The first Vincentian university established in the U.S. has scheduled a full slate of events to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Vincentian charism.
Niagara University will commemorate the Congregation of the Mission's mission to serve in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul during Vincentian Heritage Week, which takes place Sept. 24-30.
The Congregation of the Mission is a community of Roman Catholic priests and brothers that fulfills its call to alleviate poverty through ministries like education, social services, health care, missions and spiritual formation.
The year 1617 is widely considered the year of the community's origin, based on events that occurred in the life of St. Vincent de Paul in Folleville and Châtillon, France.
The Vincentian Family is now composed of 225 branches (various religious communities and lay associations), more than 2 million members and is present on five continents. Its members are engaged in in various ministries in which they "welcome the stranger," including care for homeless people, refugees, abandoned children and single mothers.
NU (established in 1856), St. John's University (1870) and DePaul University (1898) are the three institutions of higher education that are located in the U.S. and sponsored by the Congregation of the Mission.
Also known as Founder's Week, Vincentian Heritage Week is a way for the NU 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 contributions of university employees, alumni and community leaders.
Below is the full schedule of Vincentian Heritage Week events at NU:
•Family Weekend Mass: Commissioning of the Vincentian Scholars
Sunday, Sept. 24 - 11 a.m., Alumni Chapel
draws to a close with a celebration of God's great love. NU'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, contact the office of university mission and ministry at 716-286-8400.
Monday, Sept. 25 - 1-3 p.m., Gallagher Center, Multipurpose Room
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.
•Opening Mass for the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul
Tuesday, Sept. 26 - 2:15 p.m., Gallagher Center, Upper Level
This Mass is in honor of the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul. Everyone from the university community is welcome. Free Chilly Billy's ice cream will be available outside of the Gallagher Center following Mass.
•Panel on Vincentian Mission
Wednesday, Sept. 27 - 3:30-5 p.m., Castellani Art Museum
This year's panel will explore the idea of charism in view of the anniversary of the establishment of Vincentian charism 400 years ago. Panelists will also reflect upon how the Vincentian charism has influenced their lives and careers. The panel will convene with remarks from Dr. Judith Merkle, SNDdeN, author of "Beyond Our Lights and Shadows: Charism and Institution in the Church." Additional panelists include the Rev. Patrick Flanagan, C.M., '87, Ph.D., associate professor of theology and religious studies at St. John's University; Ashley Gruhalla, NU campus minister; and the Rev. Aidan Rooney, C.M., a Vincentian priest who recently joined the Niagara campus community.
•Vincentian Heritage Convocation
Thursday, Sept. 28 - 4 p.m., 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. Patrick J. Griffin, C.M., '75.
Honorees include William Bradberry, '70; the Rev. Patrick Flanagan, C.M., '87, Ph.D.; Mustafa Gokcek, Ph.D.; Denise Gonez-Santos; the Rev. Patrick Griffin, C.M., '75; and Kurt Von Voetsch.
•NU IMPACT Challenge for Hurricane Survivors: Announcement of Leading College
Friday, Sept. 29 - 2 p.m., Gallagher Center, Lower Level
As part of the university's continuing mission to help those in need, NU's newly transformed IMPACT program (formerly Learn and Serve) organized an effort to collect items to aid the victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The month-long effort involved the entire university community collecting necessities for the devastated area hit by the hurricanes. The college that collected the most items will be presented with a plaque during this event.
For more information, call the IMPACT/ReNu Niagara Office at 716-286-8750.
•Society of St. Vincent de Paul Friends of the Poor Walk
Saturday, Sept. 30 - 10 a.m., Goat Island, Niagara Falls (USA)
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 its student-run soup kitchen downtown. Preregistration is available at https://www.svdpusa.net/fop
For more information on Vincentian Heritage Week, contact the office of university mission and ministry at 716-286-8400.