Vincentians of Wherever: Ozanam Scholars in Action

by | Feb 7, 2016 | News, Systemic change

ozanam-fnOzanam Scholars, like thousands of Vincentian Volunteers, can be found… wherever!

Every year, from periods of ten days to two years and more, Vincentians are acting as missionaries: using their skills to encounter, to partner with, and to be changed by the experience of living and serving in other cultures and/or countries.

This year, the Ozanam Scholars of St. John’s University visited Ecuador to learn and to teach, and to collaborate with local communities in implementing strategies for improvement that have been identified in collaboration with local leaders. These small but effective systemic change initiatives are at the heart of the learning model of the Ozanam Scholars program. Here are a few of many Facebook photos.

Listen to the testimony about and of a former Ozanam Scholar, who worked in a multi-service center in Brooklyn, New York (USA):

Kevin Garcia (2012) is the customer account manager for several milk brands—including soy milk, organic milk, Land-O Lakes and almond milk. It’s a job that takes him across the country and brings him in contact with diverse customers. According to Garcia, serving clients at Bread and Life during his freshmen year equipped him to get along with the assorted people he meets every day. “[At Bread and Life] you’re dealing with everyone under the sun…I grew a thicker skin.”

According to Garcia, social justice and poverty alleviation – the major principles espoused by the Ozanam Scholars program – continue to shape his career choices. His current client lends their support to various national hunger relief efforts and has a commitment to food security. “I applied to them because they were a socially responsible company,” says Garcia, “It’s about giving people a hand up, not a hand out.”

This wonderful description of Frédéric Ozanam, taken from their website, is inspiring.

A Student Who Made a Difference

frederic_ozanam_imageArmed with a passion for learning and his faith, Frédéric Ozanam arrived in Paris in 1831 to study law at the University of the Sorbonne. After becoming discouraged by the poverty he witnessed on the streets of Paris, he started a club to debate issues of social injustice with his college peers. One day, while discussing the Church’s role in society, a member of the club questioned, “What do you do beside talk to prove the faith you claim?” Frédéric took up this call to action and organized his friends to serve in the poorest tenements in Paris. It was during this time that he met Rosalie Rendu, a Daughter of Charity known for her commitment to assisting the poor. With her guidance, Frédéric formed the organization now known as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Frédéric went on to become a journalist, professor and public speaker dedicated to faith and sustainable service. He continued to aid the impoverished and speak out for his faith throughout his life. Today, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul serves millions of impoverished people worldwide, and Blessed Frédéric Ozanam remains an inspiring example for young men and women seeking to change the world.