St. John’s University honored several men and women who haveserved their communities in the tradition of St. Vincent de Paul atthe annual Vincentian Convocation Thursday as part of theUniversity’s Founders’ week festivities.
“Vincent’s spirit is very much alive in the individuals we honortonight,” said Joseph Sciame, St. John’s University’s VicePresident of Community Relations. “They are true servants of thepoor.”
The first award of the evening was presented to men’s soccerhead coach David Masur, Ed. D. Masur, a two-time Big East coach ofthe year, was awarded the Vincentian Mission Award for hisleadership on and off the field. Masur, has been head coach of theUniversity’s men’s soccer team since 1991 and has built one of thestrongest men’s soccer programs in the nation.
Off the field, Masur was recognized for his efforts to instillin his players a strong work ethic and commitment to service. “Inacademics, he has been a model of the true scholar athlete bypursuing and earning a doctorate in education confirmed in June2003,” Bell-Berti said. In tune with the University’s Vincentiantradition, Masur and his team have helped the homeless, the hungryand children with special needs by volunteering at soup kitchens,shelters and children’s hospitals.
The Caritas Medal was awarded to the Carmelite Sisters for theAged and Infirmed, represented by their Superior General, MotherMary Suzanne Sapa. The Caritas Medal is presented to individualsand organizations that have evidenced exemplary service to the poorin the city of New York.
The Carmelite sisters have administered Ozanam Hall in Bayside,Queens since it opened in 1971. Ozanam Hall is a geriatric care andshort term rehabilitation facility. “The sisters provide both aloving presence and capable care identifying and fulfilling theneeds of their patients,” said Bell-Berti.
The St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal was presented to Mary BethO’Brien, president-elect of the Ladies of Charity. O’Brien wasawarded the Seton Medal for being “a shining example of a Catholiclay woman and a person of grace, compassion, zeal and sensitivity.”Founded in France by St. Vincent de Paul in 1617, the 260,000worldwide members of the Ladies of Charity continue to serve thepoor in the spirit of St. Vincent.
Eugene B. Smith, the National President of the Society of St.Vincent de Paul, was awarded the St. Vincent de Paul medal. Thismedal is presented to an outstanding Catholic layperson whoembodies the ideals and values of St. Vincent de Paul. “Eugene B.Smith is clearly such a man as evidenced by the professional andvolunteer activities that have dominated his life” said Bell-Berti.A 30-year member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Smith hasdedicated his time to raising awareness about the needs of the poor”putting a face on the problem and reminding people that they arecalled to serve.”
Sciame introduced Pamela Shea-Byrnes as the recipient of thePresident’s Medal. The accolade is presented to an individual whohas rendered outstanding service to the University or society.Shea-Byrnes is currently the associate Vice President of UniversityMinistry and University Events.
“In honoring Pamela Shea-Byrnes, St. John’s not only celebratesa woman whose life embodies Vincentian values, but a person who hasmade invaluable contributions to their growth and development,”said Sciame.
Rev. Robert R. Vignola, C.M. and Sr. Evelyne Franc, D.C. werepresented with honorary doctorates of humane letters. Vignola, whojoined the Vincentians 50 years ago, also served as spiritualdirector at St. John’s University for 30 years.
In addition to receiving an honorary doctorate, Sr. EvelyneFranc, Suprioress General of the Daughters of Charity alsodelivered the Vincentian Chair of Social Justice 2004 lecture. Thetopic of her lecture focused on working towards a civilization ofjustice and love. She read excerpts from letter of members of theDaughters of Charity describing their missions in Morocco andVietnam.
In his closing remarks, St. John’s President Rev. Donald J.Harrington described the Vincentian Convocation as his favoritenight of the year. “It is the time we are most ourselves,”Harrington said.
Prior recipients of the Seton medal, the St. Vincent medal andthe Caritas medal were present at the event. “We are delighted thatso many members and friends of the St. John’s community are herethis evening to help celebrate the legacy and vision of St. Vincentde Paul,” said Sciame.