St. John’s University celebrates Founder’s Week during the third or fourth week of September. Founder’s Week is an opportunity to learn more about St. Vincent de Paul (1581–1660), the Congregation of the Mission, and how the life and teachings of St. Vincent influence our University.
In 1995, the University established a week honoring St. Vincent de Paul and celebrating the Vincentian heritage of St. John’s. . Prior to 2012, the commemoration was held in January and honored Vincent’s inspiration to begin the work of missions for poor persons. Since 2012, Founder’s Week is scheduled for the week of the anniversary of St. Vincent’s death on September 27, 1660. It is an opportunity to give special attention to Vincent, his spirit, and his legacy as it influences the present.
These two dates serve as bookmarks for the beginning and the completion of Vincent’s ministry to those in need. On January 25, 1617, Vincent, a young priest at the time, preached a sermon on general confession at the church of Folleville, France. This is held by the Vincentian priests and brothers as the date when Vincent de Paul conceived of creating a congregation of priests who would serve the spiritual and material needs of poor people and when he preached the first sermon of the mission. In 1625, the men who would later become part of the Company known as the Congregation of the Mission, or Vincentians, began to form this community.
In 1870, the priests of the Congregation of the Mission founded St. John’s University in Brooklyn at the request of the Right Rev. John Loughlin, Bishop of the Diocese.