From staff reports

Continuing to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first Vincentian missionaries to the United States, representatives of the nation's three Catholic universities sponsored by the Vincentians (Congregation of the Mission) --- St. John's University in New York, DePaul University in Chicago and Niagara University in Lewiston --- gathered for a conference Nov. 11-13 in New York City.  

Taking the theme "Beyond the Bicentennial: the Promise of Vincentian Education," the conference brought together leaders from the Catholic higher education community to explore the opportunities and challenges faced on university campuses serving students in a rapidly changing world, while remaining faithful to their Catholic and Vincentian identities.  

The Vincentians are an apostolic religious community founded by St. Vincent de Paul in 17th century Paris, France, dedicated primarily to the service of the poor and marginalized in society as well as the formation of the clergy.  Their service in seminaries in the United States led to their involvement in Catholic higher education here.  DePaul University in Chicago and St. John's University in New York are the two largest Catholic universities in the country.

In addition to presidents, administrators and faculty members from the three Vincentian schools, speakers from Villanova University, University of San Francisco, St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkhill, and the College of St. Elizabeth shared their insights regarding the impact of Catholic higher education upon contemporary society.

The conference also welcomed the newly elected Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) and Daughters of Charity, Father Tomaz Mavric, C.M., for his first visit to the United States as the order's superior.  He is the 25th successor to St. Vincent DePaul.  

His predecessor as 23rd Superior General, Father Robert Maloney, C.M., also spoke to those gathered.  Father Maloney is the author of numerous books and articles on spirituality and currently works as administrator of "Project DREAM," a Vincentian program to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa.  He also serves on the boards of trustees of St. John's and DePaul Universities. The Superior of the Eastern Province of Vincentians and Trustee/Vice-Chair of the boards of St. John's and Niagara Universities Father Michael Carroll, C.M. also participated with several Vincentian priests.

Bishop David O'Connell, C.M., himself a Vincentian and long-time university administrator and professor prior to becoming 10th Bishop of Trenton, celebrated evening Mass Nov. 12 and addressed those attending the gathering.  "As Vincentians, we keep the spirit of St. Vincent alive on our campuses," Bishop O'Connell observed. "We model his spirit within and for Catholic higher education, especially in our advocacy for the poor."