On July 21, 2019, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP) celebrated with great joy the 180th anniversary of the establishment of International General Council. The link below will enable you to access to minutes of the first meeting of the council (in PDF format) .
The CGI, as it is known today, resulted from splitting the ‘Board’ into two administrative bodies: on the one hand, there was the Paris Council, that governed the Conferences in Paris (16 Conferences at that time); and, on the other hand, the General Conference which was responsible for the Society’s growth growth beyond Paris (22 Conferences at that time).
It should be noted that the Board dates back to 1836, when the first Rule was drawn up. However, during the meeting of July 14, 1839, the leaders of the Society agreed to split the Board. Thus, a decision was made during the meeting of the General Assembly (July 21, 1839) to establish General Council General … Hence, the birth date of the General Council General is July 21, 1839. The first official meeting of the new Council was held on December 27, 1840. The phrase ‘General Council’ was used in the 1839 Rule.
The phrase “International General Council” emerged in 1967, when Bologna’s General Council (the women’s branch of the SSVP) merged with the men’s branch, thus creating a single mixed Conferences of Society of St. Vincent de Paul, made up of both men and women.
In the 180 years of our history, the General Council has had 16 General Presidents. The first one was Emmanuel Joseph Bailly de Surcy, and the current one is Renato Lima de Oliveira (the first one from the southern hemisphere). Some other interesting facts: the President General who remained in that position for the longest period of time was Adolphe Baudon (38 years). The youngest President General at the time of his election was also Adolphe Baudon (28 years old). The General President at the time of the merger of the men and women’s groups was Pierre Chouard. The oldest General President at the time of his election was Jacques Zeiller (65 years old). The first non-French President General was César Augusto Nunes Viana from Portugal.
During the annual meeting of the Council General, held from June 13-16, 2019, the 180th anniversary of the Council General was commemorated with different activities, such as, three Vincentian book launches, the signing of a cooperation agreement with the Religious of St. Vincent (RSV), and the release of the song The Seven Founders, which highlights the virtues of the seven founders of the Society.
We request that, on July 21, 2019, every parish in the world with a Vincentian Conference includes the following prayer in the Sunday prayer of the faithful: “We pray for the 180th anniversary of the Council General International of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, so that it may keep on bringing the message of peace, unity and charity to all Vincentians and the poor of the world.”
Let us pray for our General President , Renato Lima, for the International Board, as well as for all the members providing some form of service within the International Structure. Our General President stated: We acknowledge, today, not only the role of the seven founders of the SSVP, but also that of the first members and all those who have served within the General Council throughout these 180 years, especially those who are already in the Lord’s house.”
Further details about the early days of the SSVP and the establishment of the Council General can be found in the book by the well-known French writer, Matthieu Brejon de Lavergnée (pages 217-230), entitled “The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the 19th century.” For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to read part of Matthieu’s book.
Click here to read the first minute of the Council General, dated July 21, 1839.