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Niagara University set to celebrate 200th anniversary of Vincentians in America

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Thu, Sep 15th 2016 03:15 pm

The first Vincentian university established in the U.S. has scheduled a full slate of events to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Vincentians in America.

Niagara University will commemorate the Congregation of the Mission's rich history of education and service in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul during Vincentian Heritage Week, which takes place Sept. 23-30.

The Congregation of the Mission is a community of Roman Catholic priests and brothers founded by St. Vincent de Paul in 1625 for the evangelization of the poor and the formation of the clergy. There are presently more than 4,000 Vincentians who serve in 86 countries.

The community's genesis in the U.S. dates back to July 26, 1816, when a brig carrying the Rev. Felix De Andreis, C.M., and 12 other Vincentian priests arrived in Baltimore.

Niagara University (established in 1856), St. John's University (1870) and DePaul University (1898) are the three Vincentian institutions of higher education located in the U.S.

Also known as Founder's Week, Vincentian Heritage Week is a way for the Niagara University community to pay homage to St. Vincent and St. Louise de Marillac, the patroness of Christian social workers who co-founded the Daughters of Charity with St. Vincent.

Students, alumni, faculty, staff and administrators participate in Founder's Week events, highlighted by the prestigious Vincentian Heritage Convocation, which recognizes the extraordinary contributions of university employees, alumni and community leaders.

Below is the full schedule of Vincentian Heritage Week events at Niagara University:

•Vincentian Heritage Week Kickoff: Sandal Falls Service Event

  • 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23
  • Outside of Kiernan Center

The Levesque Institute has led the effort in recent years to recover and clean the thousands of sandals tourists have discarded at Niagara Falls attractions for use in impoverished communities around the world. Individuals are invited to join students from Mount St. Mary Academy in organizing the footwear.

•Society of St. Vincent de Paul Friends of the Poor Walk

  • 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24
  • Goat Island, Niagara Falls State Park

NU's St. Vincent de Paul Society will join with other regional societies for the Friends of the Poor Walk on Goat Island in Niagara Falls. Funds raised for this walk assist community members in need of food, household goods and other services. Proceeds from NU participants will benefit the student-run soup kitchen downtown. Preregistration is available at https://www.svdpusa.net/fop.

For more details, call the office of university mission and ministry at 716-286-8400.

•Family Weekend Mass: Commissioning of the Vincentian Scholars

  • 11 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 25
  • Alumni Chapel

Family Weekend draws to a close with a celebration of God's great love. Niagara University's newest Vincentian Scholars will also be commissioned at this Mass. The Vincentian Scholars are part of a four-year scholarship program that forms leaders in the Vincentian tradition - academically, practically and spiritually. Each scholar accepted into the program not only maintains a high grade-point average, but also develops the responsibility to work side by side with local community leaders. 

For more details, call the office of university mission and ministry at 716-286-8400.

•Poverty Simulation

  • 1-3 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26
  • Multipurpose Room, Lower Level Gallagher Center

Students from NU's social work classes will gain firsthand insight into the day-to-day struggles of millions of Americans. During a poverty simulation, participants role-play the lives of low-income families, from single parents trying to care for their children to senior citizens trying to maintain their self-sufficiency on Social Security. The task of each family is to procure food, shelter and other basic necessities while interacting with various community resources staffed by low-income volunteers.

Recognizing the Vincentian principle of compassion for the poor, this event enables participants to experience the realities of life with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress. All members of the university community are welcome observe the simulation. For more information, contact Dr. Kevin Blair at [email protected].

•Lunch and Talk: "Vincentian Witness in the American Context"

  • 12:45-2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27
  • Multipurpose Room, Lower Level Gallagher Center

The Rev. John E. Rybolt, C.M., Ph.D., a scholar-in-residence at DePaul University, is one of the world's pre-eminent scholars of Vincentian studies. This special gathering will give the university community an opportunity to listen to his perspectives on the Congregation of the Mission's history in the U.S.

•Taizé Prayer Service: "Praying with St. Vincent"

  • 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27
  • Chapel, Gacioch Family Alumni and Admissions Center

Set in a candle-lit chapel, this evening of ecumenical prayer combines simple, meditative music, scripture and silence that allow participants to connect with God in a unique way. Taizé is an ecumenical monastic community founded in Taizé, France, in 1940. Since that time, it has become an important pilgrimage destination, especially among young people seeking peace, spirituality and renewal. Taizé prayer services are now held around the globe, reflecting the dynamic spirituality of the original community.

•Catholic and Vincentian Education: A Roundtable Discussion with the Deans of Niagara University

  • 3:30-5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28
  • Castellani Art Museum

Recognizing a major contribution of the American Vincentians lies in higher education, the current deans of Niagara University's four academic colleges will gather to share their perspectives on education at the country's oldest Vincentian institution of higher education, NU.

•Vincentian Heritage Convocation

  • 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29
  • Alumni Chapel

The convocation ceremony is a Vincentian Heritage Week tradition. During this ceremony, the university recognizes members of its community, as well as others who inspire through their outstanding work in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul. The keynote speaker will be the Rev. John E. Rybolt, C.M., Ph.D.

Honorees include Peggy Choong, Ph.D.; Gary Hall; Rybolt; Sister Mary Johnice Rzadkiewicz, C.S.S.F.; and Michael Skowronski.

For more details, call the office of university mission and ministry at 716-286-8400.

•Opening Mass for the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul

  • 12:20 p.m., Friday, Sept. 30
  • Upper Level Gallagher Center

This Mass is in honor of the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul. Everyone from the university community is welcome. Free ice cream will be available outside of the Gallagher Center, beginning at 1 p.m.

To learn more about the mission of Niagara University, visit http://mission.niagara.edu.

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