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About the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP) is an international Catholic volunteer organization that was established in 1833. Frédéric Ozanam, its main founder, was a twenty-year-old student at the University of Sorbonne in Paris, France. When he was challenged to show his faith through action, he and a small group of friends started visiting the homes of those living in poverty. They provided firewood and food, and offered friendship and care as they responded holistically to the needs of families. Frédéric Ozanam saw charity and justice as being intertwined and worked to address injustices in the society around him in order to bring about long-term improvement in people’s lives. Taking inspiration from Saint Vincent de Paul, who had lived and worked some two hundred years prior, Frédéric and his friends named him as the patron saint of the Society. The organization expanded and now can be found in over one hundred countries.

Visiting individuals and families in their homes remains the fundamental work of the Society. Volunteers called Vincentians are organized into parish-based units known as conferences. Through their visits, they build relationships, offer encouragement, advocacy, connections to community resources, and practical assistance for a range of needs. In an effort to further Frédéric’s vision of charity and justice, members also work to identify and address the root causes of poverty that will transform lives.

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul began In Halifax in 1853. St. Mary’s Conference was the first to be formed, followed by St. Patrick and St. Joseph Conferences. In 1867 the Halifax Particular Council (HPC) was established with membership from the three conferences. The Society's early activities focused on raising funds for the destitute through such activities as steamboat excursions to McNabs Island.

Today, HPC coordinates the activities of sixteen conferences throughout the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth. In addition, it operates two outreach ministries: Hope Cottage, a soup kitchen in downtown Halifax and Hand in Hand, a thrift store in Spryfield.

The work of the council, conferences, Hope Cottage, and Hand in Hand is funded by donations from parishioners and others who support the mission of the Society. We are truly grateful for their generosity.

​For additional information on SSVP, please visit our National and International websites.


2023 Charitable Impact



Households assisted



food, rent,
utilities, medical, transportation



Our Thrift

Store sales



served at

Our Soup



adults assisted



children assisted




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