The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP), a charity organisation associated with the Catholic Church, that runs leprosy homes, community kitchens for underprivileged children and shelters for the elderly in Mumbai is celebrating the 200th birth anniversary of its founder, Frederick Ozanam on April 23.
In Mumbai, the main celebration and Mass will be held at St Peter’s Church, Bandra.
The SSVP was set up in 1863 by Ozanam. Currently, the 180-year-old organisation works in 149 countries. The order runs 92 branches in and around Mumbai, including the EFANN leprosy and HIV/AIDS health care centre at Trombay, the Shanti Bhavan shelter home for the elderly in Kalyan, and the Ozanam Community Kitchen
at Cheetah Camp, which provides free food to underprivileged children.
John Lobo, president of SSVP Mumbai Council, said, “We have undertaken a lot of activities, the most effective one being the 2004 Tsunami aid initiaitve, when we reconstructed houses torn down by the calamity, replaced many fishing trolleys and provided casual aid.”
The organisation’s Mumbai branch has approximately 2,000 volunteers. “By educating underprivileged children, we ensure that they have a better future as their job prospects and means of earning a good livelihood in future is ensured,” said Graciano Monteiro, treasurer of the Mumbai Council.
SSVP hopes that Ozanam, who has been declared ‘blessed’ — a step towards sainthood —by the Catholic Church, will be canonised (declared a saint) soon. Monteiro said, “Blessed Frederic was beatified [awarded the title Blessed] in 1997. We pray that he will be canonised a saint at the earliest.”