Our History

Sunset behind life size letters that spell out the word faith except for the letter I which is a person standing between the a and the t

Putting Faith Into Action

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul began in a college debate in Paris, France. In 1833, Frédéric Ozanam, a 20-year-old student, was asked what he and his fellow Catholic students were doing personally to help the poor in Paris. Taking the question to heart, Ozanam and six of his peers formed the first “Conference of Charity” on April 23, 1833. This group visited the poor in their homes, providing them with needed aid and assistance. Ozanam adopted the name of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in honor of their patron saint, who had dedicated his life to serving the poor in 16th-century France.

Within a few years, the original group grew to over 2,000 members and spread to 15 other cities and towns in France. Today, the Society has a presence in almost every country in the world and over 1 million volunteers.

Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Our Lady of Guadalupe Helotes Conference

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church Helotes Conference, has a long history of helping people in Helotes and Northwest San Antonio. What began more than 30 years ago as a ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Helotes, Texas, now serves over 3,800 of our neighbors in need. With a team of volunteers, we work hard to continue Frédéric Ozanam’s original vision through the intercession of St. Vincent de Paul.

“Charity is the paradise of communities and the soul of the virtues.” – St. Vincent de Paul

Painted portrait of St. Vincent de Paul
St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660)

Founder of the Congregation of the Mission, Daughters of Charity, Confraternities of Charity, and Ladies of Charity. A man of deep faith, keen intellect, and enormous creativity, St. Vincent de Paul has become known as the “The Apostle of Charity” and “Father of the Poor.” His contributions to training priests and organizing parish missions and other services for the poor shaped the Church’s role in the modern world.

Painted portrait of St. Louise de Marillac
St. Louise de Marillac (1591 – 1660)

A contemporary of St. Vincent, St. Louise was inspired and directed by Vincent’s spiritual leadership. She collaborated with St. Vincent in founding the Daughters of Charity and organizing hospitals for the sick poor, asylums for the orphaned, workshops for the unemployed, championing literacy for the uneducated, and establishing standards for local charities. Louise was a wife, mother, teacher, nurse, social worker, and religious foundress.

Painted portrait of Blessed Frederic Ozanam
Blessed Frédéric Ozanam (1813 – 1853)

Founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul., Frédéric was a husband, father, professor, and servant of the poor. He founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul as a young student with others at the Sorbonne in Paris. Frédéric’s writings on social justice anticipated the first social encyclical of our modern times, Rerum Novarum.

Painted portrait of Blessed Rosalie Rendu
Blessed Rosalie Rendu, DC (1786 – 1856)

The most Blessed Rosalie Rendu was a Daughter of Charity who served for 54 years in the Mouffetard area (the most impoverished district of Paris). Emmanuel Bailly, the President of the Society, sent the founding members of the Society to Sister Rosalie for guidance and direction. Sending the founders on Home Visits, she formed them in the spirit of St. Vincent, teaching them how to serve the poor with respect and compassion.