Founder’s week celebrates change and peace

The 15th annual Founder’s Week continues today and for the rest of the week with events aimed to urge students and faculty to help those in need and promote peace.

The weeklong series is held to celebrate the Vincentian heritage and values of St. John’s.

This year’s theme, “Changing Hearts, Creating Peace,” is a premise chosen to reflect the ideals of St. Vincent de Paul, said Fr. John Kettelberger, director of Residence Ministry.

“St. Vincent de Paul experienced a transformation from helping himself to helping others and this year’s theme revolves around how we all can change our behavior to help those in need and to build and transform the world into a world of peace,” he said.

Today’s Founder’s Week events kick-off with two administrator and staff luncheon sessions led by Rev. Patrick Griffin, CM, executive vice president for Mission and Branch Campuses, at 11:45 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the U.C.’s Storm Center.

At 3 p.m., Mary Halpin, president of the World Youth Alliance, a non-governmental organization that seeks to protect human rights, will be giving a lecture called “Acting Locally and Globally,” also in the Storm Center.

While working with the organization, Halpin has traveled to Mexico, Germany, Hungary, The Philippines, Kenya and Rwanda.

Junior Matthew Knotts, who helped bring the WYA president to campus for this year’s Founder’s Week, said he looks forward to the event.

“I’ve heard her speak previously and one of the things that struck me about her is that she was very engaging with people our age,” he said. “I think she brings a unique take on social justice issues and in the end, I hope people leave with a deep appreciation for the human person and that this becomes a great moment for reflection, because we are all still growing.”

Thursday’s events include a faculty panel book discussion and lunch at 12:10 p.m. in St. Vincent Hall, a student leaders’ luncheon at 12:15 p.m. in the Donovan Community Room.

The Belson Moot Courtroom in the Law School will host “Vincentian Tradition and Systematic Change” with Patricia P. de Nava at 4 p.m. De Nava is a member of the Ladies of Charity-International Associations of Charities, an organization originally founded by St. Vincent de Paul and, according to Fr. Kettelberger, will be discussing “how the work of St. Vincent not only continues here but on an international level as well.”

Thursday’s events end with a Vincentian Convocation at 8 p.m. in St. Thomas More Church honoring individuals in and outside the St. John’s community who are living a Vincentian way of life.

An all-day St. Vincent de Paul Society Student Retreat is scheduled for Friday, along with a concert in the Little Theater at 7 p.m. called “Voices of the World: A Concert for Peace,” featuring singers and dancers from Italy, China, Mexico, India and other countries.

“This is going to be a great opportunity for everyone to come together to celebrate world cultures and to promote world peace,” said Fr. Kettelberger.

This year’s Founder’s Week activities conclude with Service Day, an event where students can sign up to volunteer their time to aiding the less fortunate.

Events that have already happened include a Founder’s Week mass on Sunday, which officially started the weeklong celebration of St. Vincent de Paul and a presentation on Monday in the Little Theater called “Transformation: Values and Vision” by Major General Joseph A. McNeil.

The presentation by General McNeil focused on his experiences in the civil rights movement, which he used to explain the struggles in modern human dignity.

“I [enjoyed the event],” said Joseph Jazinski, a sophomore. “I liked how he related his old experiences to current problems.”

There was also a play on Tuesday in St. Thomas More Church about Fr. Damien of Molokai, who dedicated his life to serving those with affected with leprosy.

Overall, Fr. Kettelberger said he has found the purpose of Founder’s Week to be one of self-reflection.

“For me, and I believe for everyone else, this is an opportunity for us all to stop and think about who St. Vincent de Paul was, how do we each live a life of service today here at St. John’s and how are we transforming because of the influence St. Vincent has on us,” he said. “This is all a time of reflection, for us all to look within ourselves, into who we are and how we are living under St. Vincent de Paul.”