The Conference is the basic and essential grouping of the Society. Each such unit, because of it Vincentian commitment, engages regularly in the person-to-person service of those in need. The persons to be helped and the works to be performed are determined by the Conference itself. Conference services are provided without monetary compensation to the members.
Conferences may be comprised of adults and/or young people. They may be established within a wide variety of social groups and settings, such as a parish, college or school, firm or company. Conferences may be organized for the performance of specific special works. A Conference may be established by persons of the same profession, occupation, or persons having a common cultural interest.
The Society’s specific ministry is to relieve suffering and to provide moral support and Christian friendship on a person-to-person basis. Whenever possible, this assistance is essentially local, adapted according to the particular needs, places, and circumstances.
Traditionally, the home visit has been a major element in Vincentian service. Assistance is not limited to material need, but includes all activities to strengthen and advance the human spirit, such as visitation to the lonely, moral encouragement, support for the down-trodden, and so forth. The Vincentian members discover through home visitation the multiple needs of the poor. To address these needs, the Society has developed numerous special works.
Nationally, as well as internationally, the Society is a voice of the poor. It avoids involving itself in party politics. It tries not only to alleviate poverty but also to discover and remedy situations which cause poverty. It does not and will not hesitate to take unpopular stands in order to obtain justice and combat the alienation of the poor.
Currently there are over 1500 Vincentian volunteers, who make up the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Portland Council.