The Vincentian Center for Church & Society

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As a Vincentian university, St. John’s extends Vincent’s legacy and mission to respect each person, serve the needy and build human solidarity.

St. John's University with campuses in Queens, Staten Island, Manhatten, Oakdale, NY, and Rome, Italy looks to St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660), founder of the Congregation of the Mission, for its vision and inspiration.

From southern France, Vincent pursued the priesthood as a way to assure a comfortable life. Through a profound conversion experience in his early ministry, Vincent unraveled the central paradox of life: it is in giving that one receives.

In a Paris marked by great affluence enjoyed by a few as well as by dire poverty endured by the masses, Vincent discovered that one finds God and oneself in service to others. A man of deep faith, keen intellect, great business acumen and enormous creativity, he was at home in the hovels of the poor and in the palaces of royalty.

Respected by the powerful and loved by the poor, Vincent bridged social classes through his works of charity and his advocacy for the disenfranchised. In collaboration with St. Louise de Marillac (1591-1660), Vincent founded the Daughters of Charity. Together they organized hospitals for the sick poor, founded asylums for the orphaned, opened workshops for the unemployed, championed literacy for the uneducated, advocated for the incarcerated, and established local charities.

Vincent also reformed the education and formation of the clergy throughout France where his community of priests and brothers, commonly known as Vincentians, undertook the spiritual care of the poor, particularly those in rural areas.

Food for Thought

Catholic universities will be particularly attentive to the poorest and to those who suffer economic, social, cultural or religious injustice. This responsibility begins within the academic community but it also finds application beyond it.

Pope John Paul II, Ex Corde Ecclesiae (40)