In his September 25 visit to Niagara University, Superior General Tomaž Mavrič, C.M., spoke powerfully of the heart of university life as a project of discovery.
Discovery of one’s calling in life begins when we have the courage to encounter ourselves and our world with compassionate hearts. Our families share their values and their faith with us, and we set out on life’s path. On each stage of the journey, we encounter others who help sharpen our skills, open our minds and form our choices. Eventually, we choose a career path which gives clearer focus to the road ahead.
A crucial point on that path, for many, is the time we spend at university. Here at Niagara University, you have developed an educational process that assists the young in developing their gifts
- through rigorous study and demanding departmental curricula,
- through career-focused experiences in your Impact program, your specialized internships, and your commitment to faculty and student research, and
- through countless opportunities and activities on and off the campus.
He drew out the implications of the vision for both students and faculty.
To the faculty
First, the most influential relationships that young people will have at Niagara are, or can be, those they have with you. Make it your goal to open your students to their possibilities and to their responsibilities.
Make an impact here and now. Work to dismantle racism, sexism, and those structures of inequity and economic oppression that are some of the root causes of homelessness. Be Vincentian and find your vocation. Give of your very best. Don’t be afraid to give all. You will find yourselves.
He quoted Frederic Ozanam, who as a young student set in motion a movement of nearly one million members in over 150 countries of the world.
“To be a martyr is to give back to heaven all that one has received: his money, his blood, his whole soul.
The offering is in our hands; we can make this sacrifice.
It is up to us to choose to which altars it pleases us to bring it,
to what divinity we will consecrate our youth and the time following, in what temple we will assemble:at the foot of the idol of egoism, or in the sanctuary of God and humanity.”
His final words…”There is great power at this university. I ask you to use it in ever more creative ways. Let us enter together, the sanctuary of humanity.”
All this took place not far from the scenic wonder of Niagara Falls, where Niagara University has conducted its Vincentian Mission since 1856. Fr. Jean Baptiste Etienne consented to the request of Bishop John Timon, C.M. to send missionaries to found a seminary to be called Our Lady of Angels. That seminary later became Niagara University under the leadership of Fr. John Lynch, C.M.
On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, Niagara was honored with a visit from Etienne’s successor, Fr. Tomaž Mavrič, C.M. He toured the University’s systemic change initiative in the South End of Niagara Falls, and was honored with an honorary doctoral degree: Doctor of Humane Letters.
See recent stories unfolding this ministry of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission.
Special thanks to Tom Burns, Michael Freedman and Aidan Rooney for supplying photos and background to this story.