The hearts of Vincent and Louise were touched by the misery surrounding them in seventeenth century Paris. Their response was to reach out and to help alleviate this misery by organising young women to serve the needs of the poor. The first Sisters heard in their hearts the call of God and the cry of the poor and endeavoured to live in community for service under Louise’s guidance. This service was not only provided for the people of Paris but went beyond the city walls into the countryside, and eventually into many other countries throughout the world.


The call and response from St Vincent de Paul and St Louise de Marillac in 1633 echoed for Australia in 1926. On Friday, 3rd November 1926, the first four Sisters sighted Australia. After calling into Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne, the Sisters finally arrived in Sydney on Thursday, 18th November. From the History of the Australian Province we read: “For three hours all eyes drank in as much as they could of the beauty of it, as the ship glided slowly in.” One Sister said, “Don’t blame Australians for boasting about ‘Our Harbour’. It is all they say and more.” 

As the years passed the number of Sisters increased and, as the various needs became apparent, houses were established in other States. Today the Sisters are found in many parts of Australia. The Province of Australia also extends to Fiji.

Our Founders

Founded by St Vincent de Paul and St Louise de Marillac in Paris in 1633, we are a Community of Apostolic Life called to live in common, but destined to go from place to place in order to relieve the sufferings and needs of the most abandoned.

St Vincent de Paul

Vincent de Paul was born in 1581, the third of six children. He was a native of Pouy, a little village near Dax, in the Landes district of Gascony, in the south west of France. The de Paul family lived off the land, and Vincent had to learn early in life to contribute to his modest and hard-working family. Vincent was considered a good scholar so was sent to the Franciscan boarding school in Dax where his keen intelligence was noted. Hence he was recommended to a patron (M. de Comet) who arranged for Vincent to continue his studies without too much financial burden on his family and pointed him in the clear direction of an ecclesiastical “career.” Vincent was ordained to the priesthood on September 23rd, 1600.

The Journey of Vincent

St Louise de Marillac

Louise de Marillac was born on 12th August, 1591, in Paris, when her father, Louis de Marillac, was a thirty five year old widower. The true identity of her mother remains unknown. As an infant, Louise was placed in the Dominican convent school at Poissy, some six miles from Paris, where she received a solid education and was immersed in Dominican and mystical spirituality. At the age of twelve when her father died, she was placed in a different school where her education was completed with the introduction of many practical skills. During this era, families arranged marriages for their children and Louise was no exception. With Michel de Marillac as her guardian, it was arranged that she marry Antoine le Gras on 5th February, 1613, when she was 22 and Antoine was 32.