Ozanam Oration

Celebrating 170 years of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia where it all began on 5 March 1854 with Fr Gerald Ward's the vision to bring good to a new and growing community.

The 170th Ozanam Oration was held on Monday 4 March 2024 at the RACV Club, Melbourne.

We were honoured to host an inspirational and thought-provoking Ozanam Oration at the RACV Club in the city as a pivotal event marking the 170th anniversary of the St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria.

The evening was MC-ed by our very own State President Michael Quinn and Grace was said by Bishop Martin Ashe. National President Mark Gaetani also spoke.

The evening’s theme: "Our Founders were people of both foresight and insight. The Society's mission and purpose are as relevant as they were 170 years ago. Our challenge is to continue that journey."

The theme provided our key speaker, Age Discrimination Commissioner (and former State President, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW) Robert Fitzgerald AM and evening facilitator renowned journalist Geraldine Doogue AO plenty of opportunities to both inspire and challenge the room.

Mr Fitzgerald didn’t shy from diving into the heart of the matter, how to honour the past while building a future in the Society – pondering all possible challenges along the way.

The event attracted around 150 guests, including National CEO Toby oConnor, Group CEO Dr Jennifer Fitzgerald AM, long-term supporters, such as Vinnies CEO Sleepout participants, and members and volunteers, such as Shirley Gaffy, who recently celebrated 45 years of Vinnies Shop volunteering.

The key takeaway was a resounding call to embrace change, have courage and take risks – echoing the fearless spirit of Frederic Ozanam, who founded St Vincent de Paul Society. The discussions prompted reflection on the Society's identity and its mission, raising pertinent questions about the role of members and the need for more volunteers in an evolving landscape of volunteering.

In the spirit of adapting to change, the event left guests inspired, fostering a sense of unity and commitment to the Society's enduring mission. The Frederic Ozanam Oration served as a powerful reminder that, even after 170 years, the Society's journey continues, guided by faith, resilience, adaptability, and courage.

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