St George's Catholic Church, York

St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVP)

Blessed Frederick Ozanam
Blessed Frederick Ozanam
Saint Vincent de Paul
Saint Vincent de Paul

St. George’s St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP)

Our calling

We are currently going through a renewal process, seeking new members and more opportunities to answer the call that every Christians receives - to seek and find those who are forgotten and bring the love of Christ to the suffering or deprived.

If you are interested in our work, want to find out more, get involved or know of anyone who needs our help please email us in confidence at or phone us on 01904623728 and leave a message for the SVP

The history of the SVP

On 22nd August 1997, His Holiness the Pope beatified Blessed Frederick Ozanam, the founder of the St Vincent de Paul Society. Frederick was a student at the Sorbonne university at a time when there was acute poverty in 19th Century Paris. There was much hostility towards the Church. Critics felt that the Church talked about the problem but did very little by way of action and accused Christians of failing to demonstrate their faith by any kind of practical help for the poor.

The answer to this from  20 year old Frederick Ozanam and six of his fellow students was to form the SVP. They had their first meeting in 1833, adopted St Vincent de Paul as their patron and commenced visiting the poor of Paris in their homes to try to alleviate their suffering. Such was the need that within a year, the Society had grown from the original seven to over 100 young members and quickly spread beyond Paris into the Provinces and then throughout Europe, reaching England in 1844. Frederick Ozanam visited the poor in London and was a persistent advocate of social reform. He gave active and spiritual leadership to the SVP right up to his early death at the age of 40. His legacy was the continued growth of the SVP throughout the world. He was a pioneer of lay led Christian social action to help the poor and deprived.

The history of St George's SVP

St George's Church was established in 1850. The majority of its first parishioners were poverty stricken refugees from the Irish Potato Famine who were housed in emergency accommodation in the Walmgate area of York – where the Church was built.

The newly arrived families were at first not allowed within the city walls and had to camp on Low Moor next to the Retreat Hospital and if it had not been for William Tuke and the Quakers who sheltered, fed and clothed them they would have all perished. Eventually they were allowed in and mostly settled in the Walmgate area of York. Poverty and poor living conditions were so severe that one infant in four did not reach its first birthday. It was in these circumstances that St. Georges SVP conference was set up in 1852.

As the slums were cleared, the Catholic population formally served by St. Georges, moved into new housing in the suburbs, new churches were built and new conferences formed. Slowly the focus of St George's SVP work changed as Social Reforms brought improvements in living conditions.

Our work

Working  behind the scenes, our members do vital work, and are often a lifeline for families and individuals. We work especially with those in financial need and those suffering social isolation.

The SVP is supported by donations from the parish, and your prayers; we are very grateful for your generous support.

The SVP is part of our parish's commitment to solidarity with the poor and marginalised.

Perhaps you might like to get involved? If so we would love to hear from you.

We meet every second Thursday at 7pm in the Sacristy

The cornerstone of the work of St George's SVP is visiting the elderly, the sick and disabled, the lonely and the housebound, in their own homes, residential care homes, nursing homes and hospitals.

In addition to this we

  • support the work of the Carecent breakfast kitchen run for the socially deprived and marginalised and the Warm Spaces project at the Central Methodist Church in York.
  • provide funds to help other conferences working with refugees and asylum seekers
  • are twinned with two conferences in India and help them to fund projects to alleviate poverty in their parishes
  • work closely with our parish primary school and provide funding for the school to help families in need
  • actively seek to identify families in our parish in need of financial help
  • constantly look  for new ideas and new opportunities to share the love of Christ with our neighbours

Finally, every year members organise a Mass for the sick followed by a social gathering with entertainment and a trip to various places of interest such as the coast with tea included (usually by popular demand, fish and chips)

If you are interested in our work, want to find out more, get involved or know of anyone who needs our help please email us in confidence at or phone us on 01904623728 and leave a message for the SVP