The Saint Vincent De Paul Society has been serving the needy in the city of Hamilton and the Diocese since the first conference was formed in St. Mary’s July 30, 1865. The Society grew quickly in the Diocese, so it became necessary to establish the Hamilton Particular Council which was officially recognized by Council General in Paris in 1880.
As parishes were established in the growing Diocese, many of them established Saint Vincent De Paul Conferences. So many were formed that it became necessary for the Hamilton Particular Council to establish particular councils in the growing communities to provide local leadership and coordination.
Throughout all these years the mission of the St. Vincent de Paul society has remained in place with two principal objectives; provide individuals and families with help, be concerned with social justice issues. In the late 50s and early 60s our Particular Council faced the problems of homeless men and boys; they decided to act and build a shelter. Bishop Ryan was heavily involved, and he worked closely with David Warme, president at the time, to make the decision to build accommodation from which to serve them.
A decision was made by the Particular Council to establish a hostel for homeless and transient men. It was also decided to seek the advice of Brother Mathias Barrett, founder of The Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd.
On March 1, 1960, Bro. Mathias responded with a lengthy letter. He praised the interest of the SSVP, he shared his own experience in Albuquerque and New Orleans. He also suggested that Bishop Ryan correspond with Archbishop Byrne of Santa Fe to ask if a couple of Brothers could be assigned to the developing Hamilton Hostel. He also made arrangements for Brother Kevin to come to Hamilton to help in the development of the proposed St Vincent De Paul hostel.
Just ten short years following the foundation of The Little Brothers, Bro. Mathias their founder, came to Hamilton to participate in the official opening of the new hostel, December 12, 1961. The hostel, paid for, constructed by and sponsored by the SSVP Hamilton Particular Council was to be operated by the Good Shepherd Brothers.
An army of volunteers was needed to bring this project to a successful conclusion which required the purchase and remodeling of the large old building at 85 McNab Street North. Space was required to provide living space and service for the Brothers who would be in residence and for the transients who stayed overnight. Also required was space to meet the needs of fifty transients who would come in for the main meal of their day.
To save money, the reconstruction and remodeling was done by a small army of skillful volunteers under the direction of Pat Daly a volunteer contractor and St Vincent de Paul member. By the mid-sixties the demand became so great that more appropriate space was needed. Working through the Advisory Council which had been created, new facilities were provided.