2015 Spirit of Service Award Presentation
Father Pedro at St John’s University in New York
In an enthusiastic display of support for St. John’s and the young men and women it serves, the University’s 18th Annual President’s Dinner drew 860 alumni, friends, faculty, students, and administrators on October 29, raising $2.1 million in scholarship funds while honoring those who embrace the Vincentian mission of service.
Congratulating recipients of the Spirit of Service Awards—an annual dinner presentation—Dr. Gempesaw noted that “each . . . has followed the legacy of St. Vincent de Paul.” The honorees were Anissa Mitrano ’89SVC, ’91Ed and James J. Shannon ’87CBA, senior partner and chief operating officer, Indus Capital Partners, LLC; Lesley H. ’83SVC and William L. Collins ’76C, ’12HON, chief executive officer, Brencourt Capital Management; and Rev. Pedro Pablo Opeka, C.M., founder, Akamasoa Association.
Making a Difference
Rev. Opeka described his efforts to serve those in need in Madagascar. As the founder of the Akamasoa Association, he has led efforts to help local residents to build homes and earn a living. Accepting the honor “on behalf of all the young people of Akamasoa,” he thanked the University not only for the award but for the example of Vincentian service it offers.
“We have heard the words of Jesus,” he said, “who tells us that there is no greater love than giving one’s life for one’s friends. He goes on to say that you are my friends if you follow ‘my commandment of love.’”