President Higgins praises work of Vincent de Paul Society

Values of ‘solidarity and fraternity in the deepest sense’

President Michael D Higgins has lavished praise on the work of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Ireland over the past 170 years. He was speaking at the opening of a new Ozanam centre in Cavan town yesterday (tues) named after Frédéric Ozanam who in 1833, as a 20 year old student, founded the St Vincent de Paul Society in France.

“As a lay Christian with a passionate concern for social justice, a questioner of the status quo in church and state, and a defender of the civil rights of the poor and dispossessed,Frédéric Ozanam is indeed a figure who remains a powerful source of challenge and inspiration for both the St Vincent de Paul Society and the Ireland of today. His vision was one of uncompromising commitment to social justice,” the President said.

“It is my profound conviction that the ethics of friendship and the building of caring local communities which the St Vincent de Paul Society nurtures are key” to Ireland’s shared future, he said.

He also fully agreed with Vincent de Paul national vice-president Prof John Monaghan, "who suggested that Irish people must move beyond anger and recrimination, and set about the task of building an alternative future. Here is what he said: 'We do not want to look back on this period as one when the seeds of future social inequities were sown, but one in which the values necessary for a socially just, fair and caring nation emerged'."


The Society’s practices were, in the President’s view, “an enactment of the values of solidarity and fraternity in the deepest sense.” The St Vincent de Paul Society has been in Ireland since 1844 when it became very active during the Great Famine. Today it has 9,500 volunteers in over 1,000 Conferences across the State.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times