The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Vincentian View: Being Good

“Patrick, be good!” That is advice that I heard regularly as I was growing up. I still hear it in my heart.

My mother would remind me of my responsibility to be good.  It meant all kinds of different things in various situations.

When I was going to school, it meant to study and listen to my teacher.

When I was playing with my friends, it meant to not fight and to share.

When I was going to visit a relative, it meant to say “please” and “thank you.”

When I was going to church, it meant to be silent and talk to God without fidgeting.

Yes, I was encouraged to “be good” and sometimes it meant to be holy and sometimes it meant to be fair, but it always meant something. This put demands upon me, and demands that made me a better person.

It is a phrase which still has real meaning for me, and not just the meaning which a child gives to it.

I have gotten into a habit of telling people to be good–and sometimes I do it without even thinking.

But if I thought about it, I would still say it and intend it as encouragement.

Last week was Founder’s Week here at St. John’s. If you had the opportunity to participate in any parts of it, you would know that we brought many good people to campus.

We wanted to highlight the virtues and values of St. Vincent de Paul and the ways in which they become evident in our world.  

We welcomed Kitty Prager from St. John’s Preparatory to speak about the work of the Ladies of Charity, one of the groups founded by St. Vincent de Paul.

These good women—many of whom are members of our SJU community—carry out effective ministry for those in need with particular emphasis on women and children.  

For the Vincentian convocation, we invited four men and women—some of whom are SJU alumni—to honor them for the work which they have done for the “strangers” among us.

Lori Pompa works with prisoners, Sr. Pat Griffith serves the homeless; Michele Pistone intercedes for immigrants and refugees and David Wood ministers to the sick on our streets.

Our own Ching-Wen Rosa Yen was recognized for her attention to our international students in so many gentle and generous ways.

When we listened to the stories of these ordinary people, we recognized the compassion and care which each of us can extend.

None of them is wealthy or powerful, but each makes a difference with a dedication to everyday goodness.

We also had others present on campus during Founder’s Week, some of whom were our own. All deepened our confidence and hope in human kindness.  

“Being good” may not always be easy, but it is not overly difficult either.  It is learning to cooperate with God’s grace, to be open to God’s Spirit, to be willing to make the right choice.

St. Vincent de Paul believed in the goodness of people, and that enabled him to carry out his mission with confidence and collaboration.

He would recognize that trait in so many of us who make up the St. John’s community.

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