Students enter the experience of Frederic Ozanam

by | Aug 25, 2014 | Vincentian Family

frederic-RosalieSt. John’s University students have been invited and challenged to enter into the experience of  Frederic Ozanam.

As most visitors to know almost 200 years ago a fellow student at the premier university in Paris  challenged Frederic by asking where was God in the life of those suffering from poverty. Frederic realized he did not know and turned to a Daughter of Charity, Rosalie Rendu,  the Mother Theresa of his day, for help in finding God in the midst of such suffering.

Participants in the Freshmen Rendu Service Plunge agree to re-live something of his experience

Forty-three freshmen and 16 student leaders, on both the Queens and Staten Island Campuses, have begun this academic year immersed in Vincentian service.

To participate incoming freshmen applied and were accepted into this service immersion experience that took place at each respective campus.  For 5 days, students lived in residence and served our local community throughout the tri-state area.  They spent countless hours serving at soup kitchens and food pantries, Catholic Charities senior centers, Habitat for Humanity and working and cleaning at local schools to prepare the facility for the start of school year.

As Vincentian service calls for  – each day was grounded in prayer, spent serving those in need and has ended in reflection about the day’s work.  Students as they begin their journey at St. John’s have begun to learn the many beautiful and lasting ways service impacts our community and their lives – and how to continue to do this throughout their college career.

At the Rendu opening lunch, Theresa LoCascio, ’17 College of Professional Studies, Rendu plunge leader offered the following sentiments to the freshmen, “Everyday you write another page of your life story. Whether it is just a sentence or an entire chapter, in Rendu each and every experience will affect you for the rest of your college experience, and maybe even life.”

“The Rendu service experience introduced me to the Vincentian heritage and like minded individuals,” offered Catherine Felle ’18 Tobin College of Business, Rendu plunge participant, more so, “I think the strong love and desire St. John students have to serve others and each another is truly remarkable.”

Lots of laughter and community have been also created as our downtime has been spent in fellowship and fun lead by our plunge leaders.  Each night activities from hide-and-seek to a movie night were enjoyed by all.   “I never really got to take part in any sort of service experience in high school so coming into Rendu I didn’t know what to expect. In just a few days I’ve had a lot of fun and I really like getting to see the hard work we do go to good causes,”  reflected John Kirk ’18  School of Education, Rendu participant.

The Rendu Service Experience began five years ago to honor and commemorate Blessed Rosalie Rendu, a Daughter of Charity.  Among Rosalie’s greatest students was Fredric Ozanam, an idealistic college student seeking the tempered kindness of Rosalie’s practical charity and wisdom in serving God’s poor.  It is in Rosalie’s honor that this service experience also teaches young St. John’s college students the way to serve in true Vincentian spirit.




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