On Monday, I was fortunate to hear a special lecture from Fr. Ron Ramson, a dear friend of St. Vincent de Paul and currently a priest in the Congregation of the Mission Order. While visiting Arizona and joining us at the General Membership Meeting, Fr. Ron graciously agreed to stay an extra and speak to our staff, volunteers and Vincentians on his experience with the Society and how it came to be.
To this day, I marvel at Fr. Ron’s longstanding history with the Society and his expertise in so many areas, particularly the lives of St. Vincent de Paul and Frederic Ozanam. He probably knows more than anyone in the world about these historical figures! It’s as if we have our own personal historian at our fingertips.
It was incredible to hear about the Society’s humble beginnings of 6 college students in Paris who knew nothing of starting an organization. They were just kids eager to be in a group and discuss their passions of helping others. But their passions could not be contained to a student organization; something bigger than them was calling out to extend their services to other towns and cities in France. Years later, their ministry of service eventually crossed the ocean to St. Louis, Missouri (currently location of the Society’s national headquarters) and continued to spread throughout the United States.
Now, the Society operates in 139 countries with over 700,000 members worldwide, and over 57,000 active members in the United States. That’s quite an impressive boost from 6 college kids! What’s more impressive is the immense dedication and love that the Society was founded on. A love, like Fr. Ron said, from people of all faiths and backgrounds who still come together after all these years to help others. The thousands of employees, volunteers and supporters of St. Vincent de Paul make all of this possible, and for that, we are eternally grateful.
I invite you to watch the two-part video of Fr. Ron’s speech that we’ve included below. Please feel free to share it with your family and friends.