St. Vincent de Paul


The St. Vincent de Paul Society is dedicated to assisting the poor throughout the world. We have four chapters, called “conferences,” in the Santa Cruz area. We assist the needy in several ways, primarily through prayer, financial assistance, and food pantries. Our committed volunteers called “Vincentians,” kindly offer their services to be the hands of Christ to our surrounding communities.

At St. Joseph’s Conference all Vincentians are volunteers and 100% of the money and goods received goes directly to serve the needy. Our conference is overseen by the Santa Cruz County District Council. We offer friendship and prayers for those we serve without regard to their beliefs or backgrounds. We provide food and financial assistance to help with utility payments, rent, medical expenses and other emergencies. Payments are made directly to the payee such as PG&E, landlords, clinics, etc. Anyone may call our Need Line, (831) 423-0878, to request help or to learn about other community resources.

The rich history of the St. Vincent de Paul Society begins in Paris, France, in 1833 when a young law student at the Sorbonne, Frederic Ozanam, was challenged during a debate to demonstrate what he and his fellow Catholic students were personally doing to help the poor in Paris. Ozanam’s reaction was immediate. Within weeks, at 20 years of age, he and six of his peers formed the first “Conference of Charity.”  They visited the poor in their homes, providing them with needed aid and assistance. Ozanam soon placed the conference under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul who had spent his life in 16th century France serving the poor.

Within a few years, the original group of seven grew to 600, spreading to 15 other cities and towns in France and numbering more than 2,000 members. Today, the St. Vincent de Paul Society is an international non-profit organization helping the poor throughout the world.


Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question below

Only donations designated “St. Vincent de Paul” will go to the ministry. SVDP is not funded by general contributions to St. Joseph’s.

Home visits are a foundation block of SVDP. They consist of a pre-arranged visit to a person who has requested assistance from us. It always involves two Vincentians who provide support and friendship and do an assessment of the needy person’s situation prior to providing assistance. Vincentians offer to pray with all we assist, if they wish.

The Need Line is a phone number anyone can call to request assistance or find out more about community resources or SVDP. Volunteers take messages from this line to pass on to the appropriate volunteers.

Typically the food is collected from the donation bin on Monday morning, and the Pantry is open from 10:00 a.m. – noon on Wednesdays. We will work with you and your schedule to plan for regular days/times or to serve as a substitute/backup volunteer.

Financial assistance is always given directly to the person or institution owed the money, for example, a landlord, PG&E, or a doctor or clinic.

This would depend on your volunteer assignment. Hours per month usually range from 2 to 4 hours.

How to Get Involved

There are a number of ways to get involved with St. Vincent de Paul.

We meet regularly to pray and discuss how we can best serve the poor and support each other in our service to God. All are welcome to attend.

Prayer Meeting: 10:30am, 4th Thursday of the month, Mary Room.

Business Meeting: 10:30am, 3rd Tuesday of the month, In the Mary Room.

  • Prayer: Offer prayers for our SVDP ministry and for those in need
  • Need Line: Pick up recorded messages left on the Need Line, record callers’ needs and how we can help
  • Home Visits: Make home visits to assess the needs of those served, share in their lives and offer to pray with them if they desire (done by two people).
  • Food Pantry: Help stock and prepare food bags and/or distribute food bags at the pantry in the lower parking lot of St. Joseph’s
  • Special Projects: Assist with projects such as 5th Sunday coffee and donuts, annual dedication Mass and potluck, annual picnic, etc.
  • Ongoing Tasks: Offer your time with miscellaneous tasks such as making phone calls, counting the money collected, helping set up for activities, etc.
  • Financial: Checks made payable to St. Vincent de Paul Society or cash in an envelope marked SVDP may be deposited in the church collection or taken to the parish office. Donations may also be designated on your electronic contribution. In months with 5th Sundays, there is a Special Collection for St. Vincent de Paul.
  • Food Donations: Non-perishable foods may be left in the bin in the back of the church at any time or taken to the pantry itself on Wednesday mornings.