The Congregation of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul views its founding as a process of history involving key people guided by a deep spirituality and passion for the poor. Their heritage is rooted in the creativity and spirituality of Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac, in the willingness of Emilie Gamelin to risk and trust in Providence, in the responsiveness of the Montreal Sisters of Providence to the call of Bishop E. J. Horan, their ecclesiastical founder, and in the courage and pioneer spirit of Catherine McKinley, the first general superior and proclaimed Kingston foundress, and the original members of the Kingston community.
The Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul were founded in Kingston, Ontario, Canada in 1861 to serve the poor and disadvantaged. Their works of charity included caring for the sick, orphans and the elderly. The first ten years of the congregation’s history were focused on ministry in Kingston while the congregation grew and developed. After this initial foundational period, the congregation embarked on a lengthy period of institutional expansion across Canada that included hospitals, schools, orphanages, and hostels. After the Second Vatican Council, the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul responded to the needs of the times and focused on new opportunities for ministry. Some of the new ventures included pastoral counseling, spiritual direction, social justice advocacy, prison ministry, campus ministry, native ministry, holistic ministries, establishing small group homes for those in need and establishing retreat centers. In 1967 the Sisters of Providence responded to the Pope’s request for missionaries to work in Latin America. After a fact finding trip the congregation began ministry in Guatemala and Peru.
Over the course of the congregation’s history sisters have served in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, the United States, Peru, Guatemala and Uganda. The congregation currently has a presence in Ontario, Alberta and Peru.