Niagara University Holds Summit Commemorating Global Commitment to Service

November 23, 2013  |  by Michael Freedman

  • Niagara Reaches Out

    NU students, L-to-R, Peter Genovese, Marc Groth, Jonathan Anderson and Jenniffer Mireles present a check to Ed Brennan, '78, co-founder and chairman of Hand in Hand for Haiti.

  • Niagara Reaches Out

    Father Sy Peterka, C.M., ’72, addresses the audience during 'Niagara Reaches Out to the World.'

  • Niagara Reaches Out

    Ed Brennan, ’78, is the retired CEO and chairman of DFS Group, the world’s leading luxury retailer to the international traveler.

  • Niagara Reaches Out

    The LAMPI KER drum circle performs in the Gallagher Center.

Niagara University held a day-long summit Nov. 21, 2013, to showcase the good work being done by its students, faculty, staff, and alumni around the world.

Niagara Reaches Out to the World featured panel discussions, refreshments and entertainment. Representatives from local and global organizations were available to discuss internship and volunteer opportunities, and keynote speakers Father Sy Peterka, C.M., ’72, and Ed Brennan, ’78, gave presentations on their work in Africa and Haiti, respectively.

Father Peterka, lauded for his 22 years of humanitarian work in Baltimore, was reassigned to the St. Vincent de Paul Church in Philadelphia in 2012. In addition to his ministry in Baltimore and Philadelphia, Father Peterka serves as a formation consultant for the provinces, vice-provinces and missions of the Congregation of the Mission in Africa.


Brennan, retired CEO and chairman of DFS Group, the world’s leading luxury retailer to the international traveler, is chairman of Hand in Hand for Haiti. The organization assists Haitian residents in the growth and long-term recovery of their country following the catastrophic earthquake of January 2010.

As part of the recovery effort, Hand in Hand for Haiti raises funds to build a world-class school in Saint Marc, believing that education is the way to a brighter future. Lycée Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable opened Oct. 3, 2011, and is being constructed in phases to ultimately house 720 students from preschool to secondary school.

In the weeks leading up to Niagara Reaches Out to the World, Dr. Hung Le, vice president for international relations, challenged NU students to raise at least $1,000 in support of the cause. They did, and Dr. Le matched their contribution. As a result, students presented a $2,012.71 check to Brennan in support of the organization.

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. Niagara teaches students about the challenges and causes of poverty, and supports service-learning activities where students reach out with compassion to serve people’s basic needs.

Through Learn and Serve Niagara, one of Niagara University’s core programs, students annually contribute more than 50,000 hours of service. In 2011, Niagara University announced the opening of the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., Institute for Civic Engagement, an initiative conceived to strengthen existing community partnerships and form new town-gown relationships.

This past March, Niagara University was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for a seventh consecutive year. Niagara was once again recognized among the “institutions that achieve meaningful, measurable outcomes in the communities they serve,” making it the only college or university from Western New York to have made the list every year since it was launched.