Founders Week 2022 Celebrates Healers and the Vincentian Mission

St. John’s University holds a series of events to engage their community with their Vincentian tradition.

Photo Courtesy / St. John’s University

St. John’s University’s annual “Founder’s Week,” held between Sept. 20 and Sept. 27, is a celebration of the University’s renowned Vincentian heritage. Included in the week’s itinerary are church services, community service opportunities and lecture programs organized to unite students, faculty and alumni together in pursuing the Vincentian Mission of healing. 

The lecture programs and University Service Day were orchestrated on the Queens and Staten Island campuses. Founder’s Week culminated in the St. Vincent de Paul Feast Day, which was held on Sept. 27 on both campuses. The University web article, “Founder’s Week a Celebration of Healers,” explains the happenings of this harvest of heritage. 

The Vincentian Convocation paid tribute to the late Dr. Paul Farmer, who founded the nonprofit organization Partners in Health to provide modern medical services to underprivileged patients. His lifetime of charity echoes the work of St. Vincent de Paul, upholding the universality and timelessness of helping others. The convocation was held on Sept. 22 at St. Thomas More Church, recognizing Dr. Farmer’s immense contributions along with other individuals and organizations.

“We affirm the common values of our Vincentian foundation that have taken root and are lived out in the lives we celebrate today,” said Rev. Brian J. Shanley, the University’s president.

During the Administrators and Staff Luncheon on Sept. 21, Rev. Aidan Rooney, the University’s executive vice president for mission, delivered a powerful statement about the individual roles  possessed in enforcing the St. John’s creed, “we need to build a place where people realize that’s a part of their commission as a part of the St. John’s community.” 

Dr. Max R. Freeman, an assistant professor at the St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, relayed his research findings on improving children’s language outcomes at the Queens Faculty Research Luncheon on Sept. 26. 

Freeman’s work exemplified the Vincentian ideals of effecting positive changes to social structures and improving the community. “We do this through social action, policy research, outcomes-based research, helping the community and helping those who are impoverished,” he said.

Rooney spoke at the Mass for the Solemnity of St. Vincent de Paul on Sept 27. The service was held at the St. Thomas More Church, and encouraged listeners to embrace the Vincentian spirit within themselves in an abridged sentiment of SJU creed —“Be Vincentian: Be a Healer.” 

“They took their little piece of it and made it work where they were, as professors, as administrators, as chaplains,” Rooney said. 

University Service Day, a 21-year tradition at the University, took place on Sept. 24. Participants gave back to the community, including several volunteer sites: GallopNYC, which gives disabled people the opportunity to ride horses, the League of Yes, a baseball program organized for people with disabilities and the Ronald McDonald house, a home away from home for families undergoing cancer treatment. 

The Queens campus provided an additional volunteer day at the Soul Fire Farm, a community farm that operates food sovereignty programs for struggling farmers, food insecure households and families living under apartheid. 

 Founder’s Week yearly provides an opportunity for students to discover and participate in the University’s Vincentian mission. Reverend Patrick J. Griffin, the executive director of the Vincentian Center for Church and Society, notes the binding ties rooted in the annual event, expressing to colleagues at the Faculty Luncheon,“Vincent was a true healer of body, soul and spirit. The theme of Founder’s Week encourages us to be healers. It has solid roots in his life and work.”