The Niagara University community strives to embody the vision of St. Vincent de Paul, in a mission that is educational, Catholic and Vincentian.

Our Mission Critical Elements

Niagara University educates its students and enriches their lives through programs and career preparation, informed by the Catholic and Vincentian traditions.

As a university, our strength lies in our ability to know and help each other as human persons. Grounded by an internal culture that is characterized by creativity, flexibility, and collaborative relationships, Niagara University faculty and staff interact with students in a variety of ways to help them grow as scholars and people. Our students must reach beyond books and websites to realize that building successful personal and professional relationships is the key to achieving goals. Our service activities, shaped by our Catholic and Vincentian heritage, emphasize the need to respect the God-given dignity of all persons.

Through quality teaching and meaningful research, we seek to develop within our students a passion for knowledge and inquiry. This provides the cornerstone of success in academia and the workplace, and propels the journey of lifelong learning. This passion must be supported by a joint commitment from faculty and students to pursue scholarly excellence in a culture of academic integrity. The educational journey also includes opportunities for students to become actively involved in integrative experiences designed to promote problem-solving, personal growth, and intellectual maturity. We also recognize that some students need help to reach their goals; resultantly, we have programs, faculty, and staff committed to enhancing student success. Through a strong general educational foundation in the liberal arts, we are dedicated to giving students the knowledge, skills, and values they need for positions of responsibility in their future professions and in society. Current and practical instruction is complemented by career development initiatives and programs that prepare students to pursue advanced degrees. Since integrity is critical for true and lasting professional success, we place a special emphasis on understanding ethical issues and expectations.

St. Vincent de Paul, a 17th century Catholic priest, inspired and organized his contemporaries to serve the poor and oppressed. In this spirit, Niagara University strives to develop leaders who will make a difference in their local communities and the larger world. We teach students about the challenges and causes of poverty, and we support service learning activities where our students reach out with compassion to serve people's basic needs. The larger university community is encouraged to study St. Vincent and continue his important work. The Vincentian Mission provides purpose to our institution, and calls on us to strive for both excellence and humility.

The rich literary and cultural traditions of the Catholic church live on at Niagara University. Catholic intellectual life is centered on understanding the philosophical, moral, and practical implications of respecting the God-given dignity of every person. For the individual, this perspective provides a strong foundation of values to lead a good and fulfilling life by nurturing the development of the whole person - mind, body, heart and soul. More broadly, the university supports groups promoting social justice, especially those that focus on issues of poverty and oppression

Enabling Goals

  • As a university, Niagara prepares its students for positions of responsibility in the professions and in the broader society. Through teaching, research and service in programs of study at the baccalaureate and graduate levels, Niagara seeks to develop within its students a passion for learning.
  • As a Catholic university, Niagara commitment to the Catholic intellectual tradition provides perspective in the search for truth and meaning. Catholic doctrine and its moral code inspire respect for the God-given dignity of every person and all faith traditions. Students experience the vision and reality of a gospel-based, value-centered education.
  • As a Vincentian university, Niagara draws inspiration from St. Vincent de Paul, who organized his contemporaries to respond compassionately to people's basic needs. Continuing this tradition, Niagara seeks to inspire its students to serve all members of society, especially the poor and oppressed, in local communities and in the larger world.
  • Overall, through its curricular and extracurricular programs, Niagara University seeks to develop the whole person, mind, body, heart and soul, for the benefit of one's personal and professional life.

At the heart of the University’s mission is the articulation, promotion and transmission of knowledge framed by the Catholic Intellectual and Spiritual Traditions. This mission takes shape first in the interactions between faculty and student.

Through teaching, scholarship and service, this special relationship Niagara University prepares its students for positions of responsibility in the professions and in the broader society. In programs of study at the baccalaureate and graduate levels, Niagara seeks to develop within its students a passion for learning.

Maintaining a distinctive identity and mission is an essential task for every Catholic institution. The basic components of the Catholic university were articulated by Pope John Paul II in the 1990 document, Ex Corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church). The following excerpt from this document (ECE) clarify the nature of a Catholic institution of higher education.

Every Catholic university, as a university, is an academic community which, in a rigorous and critical fashion, assists in the protection and advancement of human dignity and of a cultural heritage through research, teaching and various services offered to the local, national and international communities. It possesses that institutional autonomy necessary to perform its functions effectively and guarantees its members academic freedom, so long as the rights of the individual person and of the community are preserved within the confines of the truth and the common good.

Ex Corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church)
Pope John Paul II

Catholic What is a 'Catholic' University?

Unlike public institutions of higher education, a Catholic university provides a space where both reason and faith serve the development of the individual. The meeting of faith and reason in the service of the common good produces graduates who are confident, have a clarity about where they are headed, and who enter the world with a purpose.

The Catholic Church played a foundational role in establishing the earliest universities in Europe dating back to the 12th century, and in the United States at the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries.

In “The Idea of a University” (1852), John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote that the University “is a place where inquiry is pushed forward, and discoveries verified and perfected, and rashness rendered innocuous, and error exposed, by the collision of mind with mind, and knowledge with knowledge.”

By the 1960s, the Second Vatican Council began asking Catholic Universities to reflect particularly on what it means to be Catholic in the modern world. This question has perhaps become more urgent in recent decades with the decline of vowed clergy and reliance on lay faculty to sustain Catholic institutions.

Contemporary definitions of ‘the Catholic University’ are shaped by the Apostolic Constitition Ex Corde Ecclesiae, “The Heart of the Church,” issued in 1990 by Pope John Paul II, who writes:

BORN FROM THE HEART of the Church, a Catholic University is located in that course of tradition which may be traced back to the very origin of the University as an institution. It has always been recognized as an incomparable centre of creativity and dissemination of knowledge for the good of humanity.

In a word, being both a University and Catholic, it must be both a community of scholars representing various branches of human knowledge, and an academic institution in which Catholicism is vitally present and operative.

John Paul II
Ex Corde Ecclesiae A.1.14; emphasis added

Vincentian Our 5 Vincentian Values

Throughout its long history, Niagara has remained true to the Vincentian principles of preparing students for personal and professional success while remaining committed to the values of its patron, St. Vincent de Paul, as well as to its Catholic heritage. Niagara relies on a tradition of five Vincentian virtues.

This is the virtue St. Vincent loved most. “It is my gospel,” he says. Listen to how St. Vincent describes simplicity: “Jesus, the Lord, expects us to have the simplicity of a dove. This means giving a straightforward opinion about things in the way we honestly see them, without needless reservations. It also means doing things without any double-dealing or manipulation, our intention being focused solely on God. Each of us, then, should take care to behave always in this spirit of simplicity, remembering that God likes to deal with the simple, and that he conceals the secrets of heaven from the wise and prudent of this world and reveals them to little ones. But while Christ recommends the simplicity of a dove he tells us to have the prudence of a serpent as well. What he means is that we should speak and behave with discretion. We ought, therefore, to keep quiet about matters which should not be made known, especially if they are unsuitable or unlawful … In actual practice this virtue is about choosing the right way to do things.” (CR 11, 4-5.)

Jesus said “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” Humility is basic to gospel spirituality. The kingdom of God belongs to the poor in spirit. God resists the proud; he raises up the humble. We must stand before God humbly in our daily prayer, and have the attitude of a servant

Jesus says that the meek shall be happy. St. Vincent believed this word of the Lord and won the hearts of the poor because his meekness developed as warmth, approachability, openness, deep respect for the person of others. Although he tells us that he was irritable by nature, he asked God to change his heart: “Grant me a kindly and benign spirit…” (see Abelly, U. 111, 177-178.)

Jesus calls us to follow him even unto death. He asks us to die to sin daily. St. Vincent knew these gospel imperatives very well. We must be faithful to our duties of serving the poor, and prefer them when they conflict with other more pleasurable things.

Vincent loved, with a burning love. “Let us beg God to enkindle in our hearts a desire to serve him…” (SV XI, 75.) We must labor long as servants of the poor– while remembering that although the Lord asks us to cooperate in his work, it still remains His work. So we must strive to live a balanced life, so that we might have the energy that nourishes zeal.

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul was a Catholic priest of the 17th century who "changed the face of France." He put into place a complex and effective organization to address the bodily and spiritual needs of the people of his time, and set up structures to ensure that his good works would be effective, flexible, and lasting. He was one of the pioneers of the promotion of lay involvement in the Church, and of the empowerment of women in Church and society. He was an exceptionally skilled organizer planner. Yet, in all of that, he was a humble, holy man. One of his foundations, the Congregation of the Mission -- known in this country as the Vincentian Priests and Brothers -- sponsors and leads the University. St. Vincent's ideas shaped a constantly growing worldwide movement now known as the Vincentian Family. Every Niagaran is a part of that great tradition.