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St. Vincent de Paul

Who Is St. Vincent de Paul?

St. John's University looks to St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660), founder of the Congregation of the Mission, for its vision and inspiration. From southern France, Vincent pursued the priesthood as a way to assure a comfortable life. Through a profound conversion experience in his early ministry, Vincent unraveled a central paradox of life: it is in giving that one receives. In a Paris marked by great affluence enjoyed by a few as well as by dire poverty endured by the masses, Vincent discovered that one finds God and oneself in service to others. A man of deep faith, keen intellect, great business acumen and enormous creativity, he was at home in the hovels of the poor and in the palaces of royalty. Respected by the powerful and loved by the poor, Vincent bridged social classes through his works of charity and his advocacy for the disenfranchised.

In collaboration with St. Louise de Marillac (1591-1660), Vincent organized hospitals for the poor; founded asylums for the orphaned; opened workshops for the unemployed; championed literacy for the uneducated; advocated for the incarcerated; established local charities; and reformed the education and formation of the clergy throughout France where his community of priests and brothers undertook the spiritual care of the poor, particularly those in rural areas.

As a Vincentian university, St. John's extends Vincent's vision and continues his unflagging efforts for the disadvantaged. The University directs its great resources of faith and knowledge to Vincent’s vision by identifying the root causes of social problems and developing innovative solutions to these problems.

It is St. John’s University’s privilege and responsibility to share this mission with its constituents so that all at the University can make a contribution to the human community. All at St. John's are heirs to Vincent's legacy and stewards of his mission to respect each person; serve those in need; and build human solidarity.