Founder’s Week, running from Sept. 24 through Sept. 30, calls students and faculty to promote peace in the charitable fashion of St. Vincent de Paul, who established the order of priests that sponsors the University.
“St. John’s has a concern for those who need help,” said Reverend David M. O’Connell, Bishop of Trenton, N.J. and University Board of Trustees member, who spoke at St. Tomas More on Monday. “This generation is desperate to serve.”
The week’s events began on Sept. 24 with the 10th Annual Service day and “Dribble for a Cure,” which promotes pediatric cancer research. More information about “Dribble for a Cure” can be found on page 3.
Founder’s Week events continue with the “Percussion for Peace” drum circle on Wednesday at 5 p.m. on Marillac Terrace. The event will “promote unity, harmony and peace,” according to the event’s webpage. Bill McGarvey, author of “The Freshman Survival Guide,” will giving a lecture titled
“Finding God at a Catholic and Vincentian University” at the Faculty Club on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.
On Friday, Founder’s Week concludes with a Liturgy and Blessing presided by Rev. James J. Maher at St. Thomas More Church at 12:15 p.m.
Joba Aladeselu, a freshman, is an avid participant in Catholic Masses. “I like the social environment of people getting together,” he said.
On Monday Sept. 26, O’Connell gave a lecture on Vincentian principles at St. Thomas More. Before an audience that seemed to hold more area residents than University students, he spoke of how love was at the root of all charitable motives.
“Love changes everything,” O’Connell said – quoting Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, “Aspects of Love.”
“St. Vincent de Paul never wrote a musical,” O’Connell continued, getting a laugh from the audience. This fact didn’t stop the revered from using the lyrics to illustrate his Vincentian messageon romantic love versus love for God.
Keeping with the theme of Founder’s Week, O’Connell went on describe how he sees St. Vincent’s charitable essence live on through students at the University.
“One thing I notice is how generous young people are,” he said, “how eager they are to do things.”
Kyle Chan, a sophomore, attended the lecture to fulfill a class assignment, but said he enjoyed it all the same. “I thought it was very interesting,” he said.
Later that night, St. Thomas More hosted a convocation to award local Catholics, many of them affiliated with the University, for accomplishments in Vincentian service. The church was filled, once again mainly by locals, with the exception of the University’s President’s Society.
“It’s good to see people honored for their dedication to the Vincentian mission,” said senior and President’s Society member Robert Kunicki.
After a performance of “God Bless America” by seniors Amanda Spencer and Faith Ndifornyen, a greeting was given by Joseph Sciame, vice president of Community Relations, as well as an invocation by Dr. Pamela Shea-Byrnes, vice president for University Ministry Events.
Josiah K. Mooney, who graduated in 2003, was awarded the St. Vincent de Paul Medal for his volunteer work in Peru, where he helped establish health care for farmers and miners. Mooney also spent time in Guatemala working at an AIDS hospice, advocating literacy programs and relocating residents dispersed by landslides.
“It’s the whole concept of going to live with a people, a culture, establishing relationships with them, learning about them and learning about the structural injustices that may exist to negatively impact their lives,” Mooney is quoted as saying on the University’s alumni page.
Sister Patricia Ann O’Brien received a standing ovation upon receiving the President’s Medal. O’Brien received the medal for her devotion and service to the community. O’Brien received a standing ovation when her name was announced. Presenter Fredericka Bell-Berti, professor of communication sciences and disorders, highlighted O’Brien’s involvement in bereavement counseling at the University and surrounding area.
At the end of the ceremony, the University bestowed Archbishop and Secretary of the Holy See’s Relations with States Dominique Mamberti with a Degree of Doctor of Laws. Mamberti went on to address the U.N. General Assembly in Manhattan the following day.
In his benediction, Rev. James J. Maher, executive vice president for Mission and Student Services, spoke about how he often asks himself, “What would St. Vincent be doing now?” Then, motioning toward the evening’s honorees, he said, “The answers are before you.”
Founder’s week continues with daily events through Sept. 30. A full schedule can be found on St. John’s Central.