Catholic Scholars Experience Vincentian Roots and Universal Church
Blending coursework with a journey of faith, 15 sophomores in St. John’s University’s Catholic Scholars Program spent the weeks prior to the Spring 2014 semester in Europe, where they walked in the footsteps of saints, learned more about their Vincentian heritage, and gained a greater understanding of the Universal Catholic Church.
The pre-session visit to Paris and Rome, from January 5th to 15th , is part of the formation and education that students experience as Catholic Scholars, a multidisciplinary program that prepares outstanding students for leadership in the Catholic Church and society. The program features monthly meetings with professors and Campus Ministers as well as lectures, meetings, and prayer integrating faith, reason, and service. These selected students received a scholarship for each of their four years at St. John’s.
Students prepared for their January trip through coursework offered by our theology faculty including Meghan Clarke, Ph.D.; Joann Heaney Hunter, Ph.D.; Rev. Michael Whalen, C.M.; and Rev. Patrick Flanagan, CM. Applying these classroom lessons in Paris, their first stop on their pilgrimage tovisiting the Vincentian Motherhouse where they prayed before the body of St. Vincent de Paul, our Catholic Scholars have been enlivend by our Vincentian mission.
The students also visited the crypt of Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the towns of Gannes where Vincent had his conversion experience while hearing the confession of a dying servant and Folleville. ., where Vincent converted hears by preaching about the sacrament of Reconciliation.
“It was incredible to actually be in this sacred space,” said Joseph Barry ’16CPS. “This is where Vincent’s heart was converted, and where he started his ministry. We are so blessed.”
The Catholic Scholars then journeyed to Rome and were priviledged to meet with the Very Rev. Gregory Gay, CM, Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission who welcomed the Catholic Scholars and delivered a lecture at the home of the Daughters of Charity . Also marking their journey in Rome was a private visit with the Israeli Ambassador to the Holy See, Zion Evrony. Ambassador Evrony had invited students to make this visit when he visited the University’s Queens campus earlier this year. The journey continued with Rev. John Maher, CM, Director of Communications at the Curia of the Congregation of the Mission, who provided guided tours of the Vatican, Sistene Chapel and the Eternal City’s other churches and basilicas. To mark this faith journey, Rev. Maher celebrated a private Mass with the Catholic Scholars in St. Peter’s Basillica.
“To participate in Mass in St. Peter’s was such a gift,” said Lauren Ippolito ’16Ed. “To see the home of our Church and to pray here was life changing.”
A highlight of their Rome experience was the opportunity to see Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly prayer of the Angelus. Pope Francis blessed the Catholic Scholars in the gathered crowd.
“To see and hear Pope Francis was so special for us,” noted Marissa Ruotolo ’16C. “As Catholic leaders and scholars, we are inspired to come back home and be for others what Pope Francis has been for our Church and for our world.”