Seeds of the Mission: Guillermo Campuzano, CM

Global Vincentian Family 

Did you know that over 300 religious and lay organizations across the world are considered part of the “Vincentian Family?” A movement that started in countryside churches in France has spread for 400 years and is now present in over 100 countries across all six habited continentsThere are over 4,000 Vincentian priests across the world1, 14,000 Daughters of Charity serve in almost 100 countries2, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has over 1,500,000 volunteers worldwide.3  

DePaul University is just one of the many branches of the Vincentian Family Tree. Other branches include the Sisters of Charity of Miyazaki in Japan, the Conference of Frederic Ozanam for Youth in ChileAdamson University in the Philippines, the Daughters of Devine Love in Nigeria, and the Servants of the Poor in Portugal, to name a few.4 Over the last 400 years, these religious orders and lay organizations have grown and spread out across the globe addressing the specific needs of the communities they serve. While there are differences across these branches of the Vincentian Family, they can all trace their roots back to Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac. 

A Legacy of Advocacy  

While the Vincentian Family may be more well known for its ministries that directly serve those on the margins, we also have a long, storied tradition of working towards systemic change and advocating with those we serveVincent de Paul used his power and relationships witthe nobility in France to connect resources to the most marginalized. In forming the Congregation of the Mission he worked from within to reform a corrupt Catholic Church. 

Our Vincentian tradition shows us that, “effective charity requires attention to justice and engagement with our social reality. True justice requires that charity must care for those […] passed over and unseen by the dominant culture.”5 

In the late-19th Century, the Daughters of Charity in Los Angeles, California helped secure proper funding for healthcare access in minority communities during smallpox epidemics. Mexican, Native American, and Asian communities did not trust the local government to supply adequate healthcare in the times of the epidemics, but the Daughters of Charity used a combination of direct service and advocacy to serve those communities. 

“In Los Angeles, the Daughters of Charity stepped to the fore to provide service during the smallpox epidemics. Their reputation for kind, caring, and effective nursing encouraged sick Angelenos to enter the quarantine hospital, isolating patients and hopefully retarding the spread of the disease. In knowing city officials needed them, the sisters utilized their political leverage to provide the best care possible, insisting that the city improve conditions in the [quarantine hospitals] and grant adequate funding for the sick poor.”6 

As Fr. Edward Udovic notes, “whether in the seventeenth or twenty-first centuries, Vincentians have understood that some form of organized local, national, and international political advocacy for specific systemic poverty reduction efforts has to be incorporated into their efforts.7 Whether we are working at the United Nations to end homelessness or pushing for education reform at the Chicago Board of Education, advocating for social justice with those on the margins remains a core tenet of the Vincentian mission.  

McNeil, Betty Ann D.C., “The Vincentian Family Tree: A Genealogical Study” (1996). Vincentian Digital Books. 6.  

Clark, Meghan J. Ph.D. (2012) “The Complex but Necessary Union of Charity and Justice: Insights from the Vincentian Tradition for Contemporary Catholic Social Teaching,” Vincentian Heritage Journal: Vol. 31 : Iss2 , Article 1. Available at: 

Gunnell, Kristine Ashton Ph.D. (2011) “Sisters and Smallpox: The Daughters of Charity as Advocates For the Sick Poor in Nineteenth-Century Los Angeles,” Vincentian Heritage Journal: Vol. 30 : Iss2 , Article 1. Available at:  

Udovic, Edward R. C.M., Ph.D. (2008) “”Our good will and honest efforts.” Vincentian Perspectives on Poverty Reduction Efforts,” Vincentian Heritage Journal: Vol. 28 : Iss2 , Article 5. Available at:  


Homelessness: A Vincentian Concern

Responding to homelessness has always been central to the Vincentian mission. St Vincent de Paul led and inspired work with homeless children, refugees and other displaced people, and those living on the streets. The global Vincentian family continues this work in more than 150 countries. To mark the 400th anniversary of the birth of the charism, the Vincentian family launched the FamVin Homeless Alliance and decided to commit to an intensified program for five years. This global initiative is a project to end homelessness throughout the world.  

Alongside the preparation and delivery of practical projects to reduce homelessness in local situations, attention is also given to work for wider structural changeTogether, the Vincentian Family and the Institute for Global Homelessness are partnering to create a powerful advocacy effort within the United Nations that will catalyze global momentum into concrete action that will reduce homelessness around the world. 

Institute for Global Homelessness at DePaul University 

In these times of social distance, the global movement to end homelessness is growing even stronger and more connected. Webinars, conference calls, online resources, and email lists abound as we learn from each other how to best handle the “new normal.” Continuously expanding our knowledge about global homelessness is essential. However, knowing the facts is not enough. The knowledge must prompt action.  

Founded in 2014, DePaul University’s Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH) leads global action to end street homelessness. DePaul’s Grounded in Mission: The plan for DePaul 2024 names street homelessness in strategic priority 1.2.C — “provide thought leadership in addressing pressing issues of social and environmental justice, including global efforts to eradicate street homelessness” and priority 1.2.E urges the university to “better coordinate and advance our mission-based community outreach efforts at the local, national, and international levels.” To support those goals, IGH uses three signature strategies of “see it, solve it, share it” to achieve its mission to eradicate global homelessness. 

To “see it,” IGH advocates for international homelessness policy by promoting a shared definition of global homelessness and urging measurement. IGH is well respected as a global expert on homelessness within the United Nations (UN), serving as “key strategic partner” of the UN NGO Working Group to End Homelessness (previously chaired by Fr. Memo Campuzano, now DePaul’s Vice President of Mission and Ministry. In February 2020, the UN Commission on Social Development issued the first resolution on homelessness in more than thirty years, creating a strong lever for further advocacy and international policy. 

To “solve it,” our A Place to Call Home initiative works in deep collaboration with a cohort of cities to reduce their street homelessness. A local leadership team is established, and IGH experts visit each city to assess and recommend strategies; help set specific goals, establish implementation plans and track progress. 

To “share it,” IGH regularly hosts conferences, summits, leadership programs, and an online resource center called the IGH Hub to promote what works in ending street homelessness around the world. We recently launched an online Community of Impact as a collaborative and dynamic global network of knowledge. In all our sharing, we embed learning around homelessness, health, diversity and inclusion, and anti-racism principles.  

All of our actions and activities are rooted in our great responsibility and duty every day to listen, learn from, and witness people experiencing homelessness, and all other forms of marginalization and injustice which often lead to homelessness, and follow their lead in creating solutions for a world that honors their humanity and dignity. We believe that everyone deserves a home that offers safety, security, autonomy, and opportunity and we work in partnership every day to bring that belief closer to reality.  

Learn more about how you can help IGH end global homelessness.