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Society of St Vincent de Paul

Frederic Ozanam was born at Milan on 23 April 1813 and died at Marseilles on 8 September 1853. In 1833 along with other young students, he founded the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

The society has been serving the poor in Ireland since 1844.

Ballymena St Vincent de Paul


In this photograph Mr Bernard O'Neill JP is 2nd from left at back.
Can you name any of the others?

What it is and what it does

What is the Society of St Vincent de Paul?
A voluntary organisation of lay people.

What are its aims?
To help people in need on a person to person basis.

Is it a Catholic organisation?
Yes, with membership open to people of different faiths.

Does it assist Catholics only?
Members assist people in need irrespective of creed.

Is it an all male organisation?
No.  Women are full members of the organisation.

Is membership very time-consuming?
Members give part of their spare time working for people in need.

What does membership cost money-wise?
Members subscribe according to their means at weekly meetings. Helping people in need cost money.

Who may join the Society?
Anybody who has a little spare time to help needy people.

Why do people join the Society?
To translate into action the Christian obligation to help people in need.

What is the major activity of the members of the Society?
Visiting distressed families in their homes.

How can a visit help a family in distress?
The family knows that somebody is concerned enough to call and offer help.

Is money given to families in distress?

What are some kinds of distress in a family which money can’t solve?
Illness, loneliness, desertions, alcoholism.

What other material gifts are given to families in need?
Clothing, fuel, food, beds, furniture, holidays.

How are families in distress found?
Some come seeking help; others are discovered by members of the Society.

Does a family ever spurn assistance?
Rarely.  People in need always welcome assistance.

In what other activities does the Society of St Vincent
de Paul engage?
Youth Clubs, hospital visitation, Hostels for the Homeless, Holiday Homes for young and old, Clothing Guilds, Seamen’s Clubs, prison visitations, Housing Societies, Secretariats.

Are members of the Society trained for the work they do?
St Vincent de Paul Training Programmes are provided.

How would one know if one would like the work of the Society?
One will never know unless one tries.

Where could one contact the Society?
The Northern Regional Office is at 224 Antrim Road, Belfast,
BT15 2AN or telephone 90 351561. 

The website address is

When the Society started in Ballymena

On Sunday 4 January 1891 the inaugural meeting of the Ballymena Branch of the St Vincent de Paul Society was held in Ballymena.  Father McMullan PP VG read a letter from Dr McAlister, Bishop of Down and Connor.  Father Darragh CC was appointed as Spiritual Director.

The President was Mr James McAllister
The Vice Presidents were  Mrs N McVeigh and Mr J Mallaghan
The Treasurer was   Mr James Mallaghan JP
The Honorary Secretary was Mr P Lanigan

Members were: Mr James McIlhenney, Mr John Butler,
Mr Patrick Campbell, Mr John Bell, Mr Thomas Campbell and Mr Charles O’Neill.

It was agreed that members would meet on the second Sunday of the month, after Mass. 

The town had been divided into districts and each member was given responsibility for one. 

Ten shillings was subscribed by those present.

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