Niagara Gazette — For the next several days, Niagara University staff and students will be taking part in Vincentian Heritage Week, an annual celebration of Niagara University’s rich history of education and service in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul. 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. The entire Niagara University community — students, faculty, staff and administration — 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. What's on tap for the week:
At noon in the Gallagher Center’s Multi-purpose Room, Niagara University alumnus Andrew Hart, ’12, will talk about his experience as an intern with the Shepherd Poverty Internship Program. Central to Hart’s address will be how his work restoring and building homes in New Orleans last summer relates to Niagara University’s Vincentian mission. Hart will also have information on hand for anyone who may be interested in volunteering with the organization this year. The Shepherd Higher Education Poverty Consortium (SHEPC) unites students from member institutions with agencies that work to benefit impoverished members of society. Students learn firsthand about the multiple dimensions of poverty in the United States by working for eight weeks to strengthen impoverished communities and work alongside individuals seeking to improve their communities. The agencies, located in various urban and rural sites in the United States, focus on education, healthcare, legal services, housing, hunger, social and economic needs, and community-building efforts.
Mass at 11:10 a.m. in the upper level of the Gallagher Center marks the opening of the 2012-13 school year and sets the stage for a day that will feature a special mission panel event at 7 p.m. in the university’s Castellani Art Museum. The purpose of the public event is to bring awareness and discussion to a current social and political issue – Perspectives on the 1 percent: the Wealth Distribution Debate will be this year’s topic – and to do it from a variety of perspectives, including that of Catholic social teaching. Panelists include:
Dr. Bob Kane, associate professor of history
Dr. Todd Schoepflin, associate professor of sociology
Dr. Shawn Daly, dean of the College of Business Administration
Alex Bertland, associate professor of philosophy Each speaker will address the audience for approximately 10 minutes on how his academic discipline approaches issues regarding wealth distribution. The floor will then be open for discussion.
Wednesday’s festivities take place during the lunchtime hour, with a St. Vincent lookalike contest kicking off 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 Michael Beam, curator of collections and exhibitions at the Castellani Art Museum; David Ederer, facility engineer; and a student representative. A performance by the Nativity Miguel Middle School of Buffalo will complement the friendly competition.
The annual Vincentian Heritage Convocation commences at 4 p.m. in the Alumni Chapel. During this year’s convocation, Dr. Melvin Dyster, ’48 and Frank Layden, ’55, will be recognized as Niagara Legacy Alumni of Distinction, while Daniel M. Guariglia Jr., ’75, and John K. Spanbauer, ’83, M.S.Ed.’93, will receive the Vincentian Mission Award, and the Rev. John Freund, C.M., will be presented with an honorary degree. Father Freund will also deliver the keynote address.
A poverty simulation workshop is scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. on the 4th floor of St. Vincent’s Hall. The role-playing experience affords participants 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 286-8640 or firstname.lastname@example.org.