• History of SSVP in Singapore

How Society of St Vincent de Paul Began in Singapore

How Society of St Vincent de Paul Began in Singapore

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP) was first initiated in Singapore on 19 July 1883 when a Conference was set up at the Church of the Good Shepherd. The newspapers of those days reported that the Society had done commendable charitable work. However, there remains a gap in official records since then, right till the 1950s.

In the aftermath of World War II and the Japanese Occupation, when many lived in poverty and abject conditions, the late Monsignor H. Berthold proposed for the Singapore chapter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP) to be formed, thereby reviving the cause initiated in 1883. Among the pioneers in this team were the late Messrs. Joseph Ee Peng Liang and Michael Tan Meng Chew who established the Society on 8 December 1951, the feast day of the Immaculate Conception at Saints Peter and Paul Church with Monsignor Berthold as its first Spiritual Director.

After this formation, conferences were started in different parish communities. The Conference of the Good Shepherd (1951 – now defunct) and Conference of St Joachim (1954) were formed. A year later, conferences of Holy Family, Our Lady of Lourdes, and Queen of Peace were started, followed by Conferences of Nativity of BVM and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In 1962, the twinning scheme was introduced, which linked the 15 existing conferences with conferences in Ireland. Besides financial assistance from the conferences in Ireland, the society had the chance to exchange views and also support each other in prayer and mutual help. Later, twinning was also made with the conferences in Australia.

The Society was tremendously advanced, and on 15 May 1961, the Superior Council of Singapore was formed and registered with the Registry of Society as a charity (named as Society of St Vincent de Paul (National Council of Singapore).

SSVP Ltd., an affiliate of the Society, was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee on 28 February 2019 to manage programmes and services, island wide, across conferences boundaries.

Today, SSVP Singapore comprises more than 750 Members (known as Vincentians) serving in the 29 Conferences (each of which is a unit of SSVP Singapore, and each serving a Catholic church parish) all across the island. The council also includes 300 Auxiliary Members who volunteer for specific projects and programmes.

All Conferences are part of the National Council of Singapore. 


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