About The Society Of St. Vincent De Paul

A Journey Through Time


The Conference of Charity was founded by Blessed Frédéric Ozanam (a French lawyer, literary scholar and advocate; 1813–1853) along with six like-minded individuals in Paris, France in 1833. The Conference took Saint Vincent de Paul as its Patron Saint, a great saint well known for his works of charity, to help impoverished and disadvantaged people of the time. This Conference later came to be known as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP), an international voluntary, lay Catholic organisation of members, committed to help all those in need, including the poor and the vulnerable.



The same mission, to befriend and help the poor and the marginalised, led to the initiation of the work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP) in Singapore. On 19 July 1883, 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, with Monsignor Berthold as its first Spiritual Director.

The Society soon grew, as the founding members recruited their friends and followers into joining its cause, helping to expand the Society’s influence and work. Such work included seeking donations and providing rations to the poor; and providing volunteers from its strength, to render assistance towards collaborations and projects undertaken with Catholic Welfare Services. Following this, Conferences were started in the Catholic churches throughout the diocese. On 24 January 1955, the first Particular Council was formed to increase coordination between the Conferences. 

In 1962, the twinning scheme was introduced, linking the 15 existing Conferences with SSVP Conferences in Ireland. Besides receiving financial assistance from the Irish, the Society benefitted from the exchange of views and supported one another in prayer and mutual help. Later, the twinning was also carried out with SSVP Conferences in Australia. 

On 15 May 1961, the National Council of Singapore, which oversees and coordinates Vincentian activities, was formed and registered with the Registrar of Societies as a charity.  SSVP Singapore is grateful for the support that enabled the Society to keep growing and continue helping more people during those early years.