St Vincent de Paul Society
Central Council PE: Mr. Charles Schovell, 20 Hayley Place, Heath Park PE 6020, Cell: 082 5746398, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Society came to South Africa in 1856, only 23 years after its foundation in Paris, with its first Conference being established in Cape Town. In 1859, three years later, Count A. Wilmot, one of the South African foundation members, was transferred to Port Elizabeth as Postmaster. He persuaded Fr. Thomas Murphy to establish a St. Augustine’s Conference.
In the early days Port Elizabeth did not have the same distress prevalent on the continent of Europe, and so the Conference made its main work the care of the aged and infirm and teaching Catechism. From these modest beginnings it has spread throughout Southern Africa.
It is a society that shuns the spectacular and avoids publicity, so little is known of its good deeds. This is no exception to the general pattern. In recent years its beneficiaries have benefited from assistance of the National Lottery – a Kombi to ferry patients to and from hospital and the rebuilding of the Paddy MacNamee Old Age Home and Creche in the Walmer Township. Food parcels are distributed to the poor who are also assisted in a variety of ways according to their needs. All expenses are met by the members themselves or through donations. The Society does not boast of assets and dispenses all its income to the poor, leaving the slenderest balance on the right side of solvency. Each Conference works within the boundaries (where possible) of its own parish; a Particular Council unites the conferences in the city area and a Central Council provides a liaison with the national controlling body in Cape Town.