Vincentian Heritage Week, an annual celebration of Niagara University's rich history of education and service in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, will take place Sept. 26-30.
Also known as Founder's Week, Vincentian Heritage Week is a way for the university community to pay homage to St. Vincent, a 17th century Catholic priest who inspired and organized his contemporaries to serve the less fortunate, and St. Louise de Marillac, the Patroness of Christian Social Workers who co-founded the Daughters of Charity with St. Vincent.
Fittingly, this year's weeklong schedule of activities will feature Tuesday's grand opening and blessing of Niagara University's new Institute for Civic Engagement. An initiative developed through the President's Office, the institute's purpose is to reinforce the university's commitment to the region by strengthening existing community partnerships and forming new town-gown relationships. It will immediately serve as the university's primary point of contact for community members and organizations.
Two of Niagara University's flagship community-minded programs, Border Community SERVICE and ReNU Niagara, will fall under the direction of the institute and Dr. David Taylor, a longtime faculty leader known for his work in the community. In addition, the institute will also collaborate with NU's EAGLE leadership program and Learn and Serve Niagara to create meaningful service-learning opportunities for students.
The institute will become a major resource for university professors who wish to conduct research-based projects in the community. In this same vein, faculty development opportunities will be offered on a regular basis in the form of workshops, curriculum design programs and community tours.
"We have made this investment because it is essential to us - to our mission - to focus, coordinate and strengthen our many efforts in the community," said the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., president of Niagara University. "We are proud to say that Niagara University is an institution that has been most diligent about serving the economic, social, humanitarian and spiritual needs of this community for some 155 years. Now, we must do more, for that is what is needed."
The entire Niagara University community - students, faculty, staff and administration - participate in Founder's Week events, culminating with the prestigious Vincentian Heritage Convocation, which recognizes the extraordinary contributions of university employees, alumni, and community leaders. This year's honorees are Karen A. Ballard, '66 (Niagara Legacy Alumni of Distinction), the Rev. Michael Carroll, C.M. (honorary degree), Tom McDermott (Vincentian Mission Award) and Fred Heuer, '77 (Vincentian Mission Award).
Below is the full schedule of Vincentian Heritage Week events:
Monday, Sept. 26
The festivities begin on a lighthearted note with a St. Vincent look-alike contest at noon in the lower level of the Gallagher Center. Squaring off to determine who can be made up to most closely resemble a French priest from the 1600s will be Howard Morgan, Niagara University's director of advancement services; Adriano Gatto, '06, an artist-in-residence; and Dino Petrera, an NU senior. A performance by the St. Monica Chorus of the Nativity Miguel Middle School will complement the friendly competition.
Tuesday, Sept. 27
Mass at 11 a.m. in the upper level of the Gallagher Center marks the opening of the 2011-12 school year and sets the stage for a day that will mark the highly anticipated grand opening of Niagara University's new Institute for Civic Engagement. Taking place at the Roosevelt House (corner of University and Sophomore drives), the event will include light refreshments from 3 to 5 p.m. as well as a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and blessing at 4 p.m. During this time, Niagara University's sustainability task force will be sponsoring a build day for NU's second campus garden, beginning at 3 p.m. The activities will transpire near the greenhouse outside of DePaul Hall.
Wednesday, Sept. 28
The Niagara University community is invited to participate in a game of Vincentian "Jeopardy!" The fun kicks off in the lower level of the Gallagher Center at noon. At 7:15 p.m., Nate York, founder and executive director of Solace International, will appear at the Castellani Art Museum to present a public lecture on grassroots humanitarian aid and Solace's work in finding cost-effective, sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to meet the needs of developing countries.
Thursday, Sept. 29
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Institute for Civic Engagement is sponsoring NU Global Connections, an event designed to expose the university community to the many humanitarian efforts taking place around the world that are led by Niagara students, faculty, staff and alumni. NU Global Connections will take place in the lower level of the Gallagher Center. The annual Vincentian Heritage Convocation commences at 4 p.m. in the Alumni Chapel.
Friday, Sept. 30
A poverty simulation workshop is scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. on the fourth floor of St. Vincent's Hall. The role-playing experience affords participants with an opportunity to gain insight into the realities of living in conditions of poverty. That evening, beginning at 8 p.m. in front of St. Vincent's Hall, Niagara University students will organize a sleep-out to bring attention to the plight of the homeless.
For more information on Vincentian Heritage Week, contact Dr. James Delaney, Niagara University's mission director, at 716-286-8640 or [email protected].