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Film doc, art exhibit highlight SJU Founder’s Week

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From Queens, Long Island and Staten Island to Paris and Rome, St. John’s University kicked off numerous events this week as part of the college’s 17th-annual observance of Founder’s Week on its five campuses.

The week coincides with the anniversary of the founding of the Congregation of the Mission by St. Vincent de Paul Jan. 25 — the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

The college “dedicates this week to deepening our knowledge and understanding of the Vincentian heritage of St. John’s University,” the school said on its website.

St. Vincent de Paul was a Catholic priest born in France who was canonized in 1737. He founded the Congregation of the Mission in 1625, which was comprised of priests known as “the Vincentians.”

St. John’s was founded by the Vincentian Fathers in the 1870s in Brooklyn before the main campus moved to Queens in the 1950s.

Sister Margaret John Kelly of the Vincentian Center at St. John’s said the school wants “to stress who Vincent de Paul was as a man, not just what he did” during Founder’s Week.

“The hope is to see Vincent as a role model,” she said. “Our essence is composed of certain values and convictions that express themselves in behavior. It’s who we are and how and why we do things that make us Vincentian.”

The festivities at the school’s Queens campus started 11 a.m Sunday with a mass and installation of officers and new members of the Ladies of Charity at St. John’s, followed by a student mass at St. Thomas More Church at 5:30 p.m.

A weeklong student art exhibit on the fourth floor of St. Augustine Hall and the B-level of St. John Hall opened Monday, which also featured a 60-minute documentary of the lives of Sts. Vincent and Louise at The Little Theater.

On Tuesday, St. John’s was holding another mass and student awards presented by school President the Rev. Donald Harrington at St. Thomas More Church.

On Wednesday, the school was to have students help out at the St. John’s Bread and Life Soup Kitchen between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Also scheduled for Wednesday was an alumni panel and networking opportunity at Ozanam Lounge and St. Vincent’s Hall.

On Thursday, the Bishop of Trenton, the Rev. David M. O’Connell, was scheduled to hold a lecture at St. Thomas More Church titled “Charity as the Heart of Catholic Social Teaching.”

A Vincentian Convocation was scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday.

On Friday, the school was holding a book discussion on The Help between 12:15 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. at Bent Hall, Rooms 227A and 227B.

Another service opportunity at the St. John the Baptist Parish Thrift Store in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, was scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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