The St Vincent de Paul Society was founded in France by a group of young men in 1833, the principal founder being a 20 year old student named Frederic Ozanam. At the time the people of France were experiencing tremendous political and social upheaval: changes of government, the industrial revolution, and unjust employment practices. Ozanam gathered some colleagues into a small group called a "conference" and began to respond in practical ways to the poverty and hardship that he saw in the lives of the people around him. They visited people in their homes and offered friendship and support. This work remains a core activity for the St Vincent de Paul Society around the world today.
History of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Yass
The first St Vincent de Paul conference in Australia was established in Melbourne in 1854. Subsequently the Society was established in New South Wales in 1881 and had a local foothold in our region at Braidwood by 1890. St Augustine’s Conference Yass was formed on 18 May 1924. Information about the work of the early Vincentians in Yass is pretty scant. This actually says something about them and all Vincentians of an earlier time. The members of that time were probably ordinary, unassuming parishioners who quietly went about their good works without many other people knowing about it. People in need were usually referred to them confidentially, often by the priest.
They must have seen much hardship during the Depression years, and family dislocation and grieving during the Second World War. In the post War years our Society began to change in response to changes that were beginning to occur in society generally. In the early sixties the Society began to open shops in Sydney to provide furniture and clothing to the needy and sell the surplus to fund the Society’s work. Our members in Yass also saw the benefit of such a shop and before long had arranged with the Parish Priest to lease some of the Church ground for a peppercorn rental to build such a shop. The building of the shop not only displayed the enthusiasm of our members but also the support the Society had in the Parish. Parishioners provided able assistance in the construction of the shop which is now the focal point of the Society in Yass.
In May 1977 some women in the Parish came together to form a ladies’ conference – St Jude’s. The two Conferences worked in harmony with each other from that time but outside forces sowed the seeds for amalgamation. Since the late 1980s government grants began to play a part in the Society’s funding. This grew during the 1990s – and so did the associated accountability paper work. When the GST was introduced in 2000 the Society’s accounting procedures were profoundly affected. In Yass it was time to consolidate and simplify our paperwork so in March 2003 the two Conferences decided to amalgamate. The Conference today is still very active in supporting those in need in our local community. The Vinnies shop continues to thrive as a place where quality donated goods are recycled to support those in need and to raise vital funds to support the Society's activities.
St Vincent de Paul Yass is part of the Society's Canberra/Goulburn region which is contained within the boundaries of the Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. Support is provided from the Society's office in Deakin ACT. New members for the Conference and volunteers for our Vinnies shop are always most welcome to join our dedicated and friendly team. Just call in and see our shop manager Natalie Howard, conference president Judith Williams, vice president Debbie Valencic, secretary Bill Luccheti or treasurer Paul Trezise.
The Society is a lay Catholic organisation that aspires to live the gospel message by serving Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice, hope and joy and by working together to shape a more just and compassionate society.
The St Vincent de Paul Society aspires to be recognised as a caring Catholic charity offering a 'hand up' to people in need. We do this by respecting their dignity, sharing our hope and encouraging them to take control of their own destiny.