Urging students, faculty and staff to follow St. Vincent de
Paul’s example by courageously “seeing” and serving those in need,
Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., President of St. John’s
University, launched St. John's annual Founder’s Week with a
special Mass in St. Thomas More Church on the Queens campus.
“Courage – that’s the theme of this year’s Founder’s Week,” Rev.
Harrington said as he delivered the Homily at Founder's Week Mass
on Wednesday, January 25. “We must ask ourselves if we have the
courage to really encounter the poor, to open our hearts and eyes
to those who are right in front of us.”
Marking the anniversary of the Vincentian Community’s founding,
the Mass opened a week of events that celebrate St.
John's Vincentian mission. Activities include a student art
exhibit, a blood drive, workshops, book discussions, films,
presentations, luncheons and service opportunities for the entire
St. John’s held its first Founder’s Week in
1995 to coincide with the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul on
January 25. On that date in 1617, St. Vincent de Paul, founder of
the Vincentian Community, first declared the need for an order of
priests who would serve the poor. The Vincentian Community founded
St. John’s University in 1870.
An Opportunity to "See"
The occasion, said Rev. Harrington, is an opportunity to
consider what being “Vincentian”
truly means. “We are a University of St. Vincent,” said Rev.
Harrington. “But we cannot merely say, ‘Wow, we are Vincentian,
isn’t that wonderful?' We also have to say, ‘where am I blind?
Which responsibilities are mine?’”
Rev. Harrington evoked the example of St. Paul. As Saul of
Tarsus, Paul persecuted Christians until the day a light from
heaven temporarily blinded him. When the light struck, knocking him
off his horse, Paul heard Jesus ask, “Why dost thou persecute me?”
The experience led to Paul’s conversion and baptism.
St. Paul’s conversion, Rev. Harrington explained, is similar to
the experience of Christians who confront what their faith truly
means. “Many of us think we can see things clearly until a special
moment in our lives ‘knocks us off’ our own horse,” said Rev.
“We must ask ourselves, ‘do I really see things as clearly as I
think I do? Am I really open to others helping to correct those
parts of me in which there is blindness?’”
Rev. Harrington likened Paul’s conversion to the experience of
St. Vincent de Paul. St. Vincent was “converted” to a life of
service when he heard a poor man’s confession.
“It totally changed Vincent’s life,” said Rev. Harrington. “In a
very real sense we can say that he was ‘blind’ until he gained
clarity from the experience. We call it a ‘conversion.’ And if it
weren’t for Vincent’s conversion, we would not be here today.”
We invite you to enjoy our
Photo Gallery from Founder’s Week Mass – and to learn more
about Founder’s Week and the many activities celebrating the
Vincentian mission of St. John’s University.