The History of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in St Petersburg Diocese
The Society had its largest growth in the Diocese with 21 new Conferences was in the 1980’s. They were Our Lady of the Rosary, Land O’Lakes; Christ the King, Tampa; St Michael the Archangel, Clearwater; St Vincent de Paul, Holiday; St Thomas Aquinas, New Port Richey; The Clearwater Soup Kitchen; Our Lady Queen of Peace, New Port Richey; St James the Apostle, Port Richey; St Raphael, Blessed Trinity, Most Holy Name, and Sacred Heart, St Petersburg; St Paul, Tampa; St Frances Cabrini, Spring Hill; St Michael the Archangel, Hudson; St Anne, Ruskin; St Anne, Ridge Manor; St Thomas the Apostle, Homosassa; St Matthew, Largo; All Saints, Palm Harbor; St Stephen, Valrico; and St Joan of Arc in Spring Hill.
The 1990’s had another 5 more parishes formed Conferences: St Timothy, Lutz; St Peter Claver, Tampa; St Theresa, Spring Hill; St Mary and St Mark the Evangelist , Tampa;. A Conference of St Frances Assisi was formed to work with persons in need in downtown St Petersburg. This Conference is not located within a parish. After the turn of the century we had the following Conferences join the Society St Anthony of Padua, San Antonio; St Mary our Lady of Sorrow, Masaryktown; Prince of Peace at Sun City Center and St Peter the Apostle at Trinity.
The late fifty’s or early 1960 the first District Council was formed when the Conferences of South Pinellas decided they needed a Council to unite the work of the Society. 20 year later Upper Pinellas District was organized and July of 1982 Hillsborough would be the third District. With that third council the members were able to form the Central Council of St Petersburg Diocese. Three years later Pasco County would create a new District. November, 1989 saw the creation of the Hernando Citrus District. The East Hillsborough District would start with the split of Hillsborough District into East Hillsborough and West Hillsborough.
All of the Districts would start Thrift Stores shortly after being formed with the exception of East Hillsborough who had a store in place when the District was started. They all give out clothing and furniture to those in need.
Other Special Works: South Pinellas, in 1979, bought an old 74 room hotel for lonely elderly people could live only paying a modest rent. The fall of 1984 the District purchased a building from the Scottish Rite Temple to open the Food Center. The Dining room and food pantry started serving meals in mid-December. The following year they opened the Ozanam Inn, an eleven unit apartment building on Mirror Lake to house women with children. In December 1999, they started remodeling an old hospital in St Petersburg to replace the original dining room. It would take 25 months before both the new Food Center and the Center of Hope SRO program would be operational. The hotel and the Ozanam Inn would close before the end of the century.
People in Upper Pinellas in the early 80’s would start the Society of St Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen. It would move a number of times before they purchased the current location on Park St in Clearwater.
Hillsborough District would open a pantry and clothes closet for the migrants at the Diocese of St Petersburg’s San Jose Mission. It closed a few years ago when they needed to replace the building and the cost of operation larger than the income. They still operate a pantry out of the Thrift Store on Nebraska Ave in Tampa.
Hernando Citrus District operates a large pantry out of the Thrift Store building. They also have a duplex house of their housing program.