The Society in the United States
On a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland to the United States in the fall of 1845, a Vincentian priest, John Timon, carried with him a copy of the Rule of the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Having met members of this young Catholic lay organization during his travels, he was so impressed with their works and zeal that he wished to share this book with friends back home in St. Louis.
Within weeks of his return, a group of laymen in the frontier city of St Louis gathered at the church now known as the Old Cathedral, and held the first meeting of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in the United States on November 20, 1845. That meeting was chaired by Brian Mullanphy, a prominent citizen, former judge, and future mayor of the city of St. Louis.
Dr. Moses Linton, a physician and professor at St. Louis University Medical School, was elected as the first president, and Fr. Ambrose Heim, known to many as the “Priest of the Poor” was appointed as Spiritual Advisor.
The Society spread rapidly, with Conferences forming across the country. By the end of the 19th Century, seven different Superior Councils had formed, but there was no single National Council. Under the leadership of Thomas Mulry of New York, a National Council of the United States was formed, with Mulry as its first president.
In 1957, the National Council made its headquarters St. Louis, Missouri, where it remains today, in honor of that first Conference.
A Medallion in the Mosaic of Vincentian Works