We are -
We are a community of women who devote our lives to serving the poorest and most abandoned individuals in today’s society.
We are a joyful community that lives, prays, and works together.
We minister in the everyday worlds of the poor and the marginalized.
We live a life of humility and simplicity dedicated to charity.
Simple, not solemn vows, as first established by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac, are made annually. By making a special vow of service of the poor along with vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, we continually reaffirm our devotion to God and our passion to live a humble life helping the poor.
St. Vincent de Paul & St. Louise de Marillac
In 1633, the Daughters of Charity were founded in Paris, France, by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac. Deeply concerned with the poverty and suffering surrounding them, they brought together a group of young women who shared their dedication of helping the poor and the sick. These first twelve peasant girls were unlike other Sisters at the time in terms of both social and economic status and their desire to live and work among those in need. This challenged conventions when Sisters predominantly lived cloistered lives with less interaction with individuals suffering in the streets.
Bound to Christ with Simple Vows
On the eve of St. Andrew's Feast, the girls bound themselves to Christ with simple vows that were to be reaffirmed annually. St. Vincent de Paul wrote:
The Daughters of Charity have… for a convent, the houses of the sick; for cell, a rented room; for chapel, the parish church; for cloister, the streets of the city; for enclosure, obedience; for grille, the fear of God; and for veil, holy modesty."
Sisters in Service
Working as a young group of Sisters, the newly formed Daughters of Charity set up soup kitchens, organized community hospitals, established schools and homes for orphaned children, offered job training, taught the young to read and write, and improved prison conditions.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
In the 19th century, inspired by the work of these original Daughters, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton founded a community of Sisters in the United States that later joined with the Daughters of Charity in France. This became the first community of Daughters in the United States.
The Daughters of Charity Archives, housing the historic collection and library, is located at the site where she lived and served in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Focused of Helping Those in Greatest Need
The Daughters of Charity were established with a progressive spirit to change the nature of service — working and living alongside the poorest and most abandoned individuals to provide immediate aid.
Humility, simplicity, and charity in their devotion to Christ and those in need, defined their way of life. Today, all Daughters carry on these traditions.
Rooted in these progressive foundations, we live a life focused of helping those in greatest need — reaching and empowering the poor and sick, sharing our faith, and advocating for change globally.
Province of St. Louise
In 2011, the Daughters of Charity established The Province of St. Louise, bringing together the West Central, East Central, Southeast, and Northeast Provinces of the United States. Joining one another to achieve our shared mission has allowed communities to collaborate more easily and address important issues collectively for greater impact. The inauguration of the new Province marked a special occasion for Sisters who traveled to Baltimore to reaffirm their charism, and focus on their mission with renewed passion.
The Province of St. Louise is based in St. Louis, Missouri. The leader of the Province is Sister Catherine Mary Norris. As the Visitatrix, she is responsible for promoting the spiritual and apostolic vitality of the Province. She is assisted by a Council of Daughters as well as a Secretary and Treasurer. The Director for the Province is Reverend Father John Kettelberger, C.M., a Vincentian priest.
Today, there are more than 13,000 Daughters working in 94 countries. We live alongside those we serve in some of the most impoverished and neglected communities around the world.
We focus on providing healthcare, HIV and AIDS service, education, care for the elderly, disabled, and orphans, as well as improving the rights of women. We work with individuals and communities to generate financial support, organize initiatives, and advocate for justice. Our main goal is to bring hope and dignity to those we serve while helping to secure their basic human rights.
Often working in hard to reach areas with limited access to funds and resources, our international communities require global support. In 2004, the International Project Services (IPS) was established to obtain the help we need.
The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul is headquartered at its Motherhouse in Paris, France. Sister Françoise Petit, D.C., is the Superioress General, the international head of the Daughters of Charity. She is assisted by a General Council of Sisters who represent the many countries where Daughters serve.
International Project Services
Ascension Global Mission
The Daughters of Charity serve on the Board of Ascension Global Mission. To learn more about their efforts, please visit the Ascension Global Mission website.
Ascension Global Mission supports international efforts that improve the health and well-being of poor and vulnerable populations in developing countries. We collaborate with religious communities abroad as well as U.S. and other international partners to support healthcare delivery, enable community involvement in health, and advocate for persons living in poverty.