Vincentian Voice

Fr. Patrick J. Griffin, CM, Special to The Torch

“The Torch” is a newspaper of the St. John’s University students.  As such, my opportunity to contribute comes as a guest.  I am grateful for the chance to write about some matters which may be of interest to our SJU community.  I bring a different flavor to the mix.

My name is Fr. Patrick J. Griffin and I am a Vincentian priest stationed here at SJU.  Born to Irish immigrant parents some sixty-two years ago, I am the oldest boy among seven children.  Home for me remains always Brooklyn.  My ordination to priesthood took place in 1979, and my assignments have focused on teaching and seminary work.  My specialty is the Bible.  On two occasions, I have served the international Vincentian family:  six years in Rome and three years in Paris.  In short, I have been very happy as a priest and a Vincentian.

Why do I want to contribute to “The Torch?”  I had hoped to give some idea of this purpose through the title which I have given to my effort: “A Vincentian View.” I expect that the direction and focus of my writing will evolve as I find my “voice,” but that will only happen as I speak and meet you in print.

I want to offer “a” Vincentian perspective.  The column does not express “the” Vincentian outlook but that of a single member of the community.  I do not speak for the Congregation of the Mission any more than I speak for the University.  I also reserve the right to have several points-of-view on particular topics and may choose to share only one for your amusement and puzzlement.

The “Congregation of the Mission,” mentioned above, is the official title of my community.  The “CM” after my name indicates that affiliation.  Most members of our University population know the priests and brothers who founded SJU, and who still serve here, by our popular designation, “Vincentians.”  This title connects us to St. Vincent de Paul who was a great French saint in the 17th Century.  Vincent found his particular calling in the following of Jesus within ministry to the clergy and service to the poor.  He is known as the patron of all works of charity.  I would wish that my contribution to our paper communicates something of his spirit as I have come to channel it.

Characterizing my essay as a “view” suggests for me a sense of perspective, a context.  Each of us can only speak from particular experiences and learning.  I love the line from St. Paul:  “By God’s grace, I am what I am” (1 Cor 15:10).

That holds true for me as for each of you.  What I offer emerges as a result of where life and the Spirit have led me up to this moment.

About what shall I write?  A list of possible topics does exist in my head, such as thoughts on the images which abound on our campus (statues, texts, seals), observations on seasonal symbols (ashes, tents, colors), reflections on the values of our University (Catholic, Vincentian, Global), and so on.  I will not engage controversial issues or matters of policy.  Those require more space and conversation than granted (so generously) here.  I hope to communicate matters of mutual interest with courtesy and character.  We shall see.