About the Society

The Society of Saint-Vincent de Paul (SSVP) was created in Paris in 1833 by a small group of Catholic students led by a young man by the name of Frederic Ozanam.

When at university Frederic would take part in debating clubs, usually in order to stand up for the Catholic faith.

During one such debate an accusation was put to him to ‘show me your works then’, and to Frederic’s horror he realised that he merely defended the faith but did not put the works he spoke about into practice. Realising that the charge had truth Frederic with a few friends decided to come together and ‘do the work’ that Jesus spoke of – to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, look after widows and orphans, in other words, come to the aid of anyone who is in need in this world, also keeping in mind Jesus’ words ‘if you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me’.

It is said that the first thing Frederic and his friend done was visit an old man in order to give him fire wood; remember this was Paris in the 1830’s where absolute poverty was rife. When Frederic got to the old mans door he supposedly took fright at the thought of what may be on the other side of this poor looking door, so he put the sticks down at the side, knocked the door and walked away. Later on he felt ashamed of this act, realising that it is better to know the person, not just leave things outside the door, for in knowing the person we can become a good friend, good company.

From a small Conference of Charity, the Society has today spread throughout the world, thus fulfilling the wish of its founder “I would like to embrace the world in a network of Charity”.

When he saw how his idea had begun to grow, with more people wishing to join in his work, he decided to rename it and call in after the French Saint who he found to be closest to understanding the conditions that the poor live in, this Saint was Saint Vincent de Paul, and that what we have been called to this day.

The Church in recognising the work we do in bringing dignity to the human person has blessed our work by allowing us to do this in all parishes that have a SSVP conference operating within it.

St. Margaret’s Conference

The Conference was formed in St. Margaret’s on Nov 1st 1868, only 35 years after the Society was founded in Paris. We are grateful for the generous support and donations of the Parishioners which allows us to give help and support to those in need.

If you need the assistance of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Ayr please phone 07413 397630.

Please place your requests for visits to the home/hospital in the box at the back of the Church, please also include the name and contact details of a relative/ friend.

St. Francis Xavier’s Conference

If you need the assistance of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Waterside please phone 01292 550 043.