The Vincentian Volunteers follow in the rich tradition that flows from the lives and works of St Vincent de Paul and St Louise de Marillac in 17th century France.
Vincent, a peasant by birth, but with a good education wanted to become a priest to support his family. Louise, half aristocrat and rejected by her wealthy family aspired to become a contemplative nun. God had other plans for both of them!
Vincent, the priest, eventually discovered that his true vocation lay in doing what Jesus did, preaching the Good News of God’s love for us and caring for poor sick people largely ignored and abandoned by society. Louise, the wife, the mother, the widow discovered that God’s desire for her also lay in ensuring that poor sick people were cared for with love, dignity and respect.
Vincent and Louise met, and slowly recognised the gifts and qualities in each other. They became friends, collaborators and founders of significant organisations in the Church devoted to the alleviation of and care of people suffering the degradation of poverty. The Confraternities of Charity came first in an effort to help families in crisis. These live on in groups like the Ladies of Charity, and, through Frederic Ozanam in the 19th Century, the Vincent de Paul Society, which, today, is the largest branch of the Vincentian Family. The Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian Priests) was born out of a need for priests to take care of “poor country folk”. The Daughters of Charity came into being from the recognition of Vincent and Louise, that Jesus, in leading them to people who were experiencing poverty, could be served by a group of women who would “come and go” wherever they were needed.
These organisations continue to exist in the Church throughout the world to this day. They have given birth to many other groups, including the Vincentian Volunteers, who continue this work for God, begun by Vincent and Louise nearly 400 years ago.