The Soul of Good Leadership

“When I said that you must be unwavering as to the end and gentle as to the means, I am describing to you the soul of good leadership.”  Vincent de Paul (CCD, 2:403)

Checklists, systems, and metrics can serve important purposes in ensuring the consistency and effectiveness of our performance. However, if we consider the “soul” of good leadership, we recognize that these things can only get us part of the way there. There is more to good or soul-full leadership than simply following a prescriptive recipe. The soul of good leadership includes an ability to intuitively discern the signs of the times, the flexibility to adapt to circumstances beyond our control, the courage to take risks while remaining committed to guiding principles, and the grace to relate to others as human beings in a way that exhibits compassion and concern. How do you engage with the “soul” of good leadership in your life’s work, and how do you help others to do the same?

Indiscreet Zeal

“The spirit of God urges one gently to do the good that can be done reasonably, so that it may be done perseveringly and for a long time.” Vincent de Paul  (CCD, I:92)

Vincent seemed to be aware that he and others often falter by pursuing passions uncritically. Rather, he advised his followers not to rush into new ventures, aware that “indiscreet zeal” can at times lead more to harm than good. He advocated for a more discerning approach, rooted in experience. In his regular Tuesday Conferences, he would often invite the input of others with different perspectives, reflecting a way of proceeding in which discernment was dynamic and dialogical, open to various viewpoints, and aware that one person does not hold all of the answers. What regular practices of discernment can help to provide a healthy balance to your zeal and enthusiasm? How do you invite diverse and even contrary perspectives into dialogue with your own thinking?

Vincent de Paul manuscript letter

The Vincentian Studies Institute is happy to announce the recent acquisition, from a Spanish auction house, of a Vincent de Paul manuscript letter.  The previously known letter is dated April 19, 1658 and is written to Firmin Get who was the superior of the house in Marseilles.  The letter is in a secretary’s hand with Vincent de Paul’s autograph signature.  The letter appears in Pierre Coste’s collected “Correspondence, Conferences, Documents” of Vincent de Paul, Volume 7, pages 148-149, letter #2574.  This letter will join the growing Vincentiana manuscript collection at DePaul University’s Archives and Special Collections which is the repository for the Vincentiana Collections of the Vincentian Studies Institute of the United States.


Practicing Charity on the Way to Justice

“Charity is the cement that binds communities to God and persons to one another.” Vincent de Paul (CCD, 2:413)

For some, charity is construed negatively because it is equated to paternalism or perhaps a band-aid – – an approach that fails to address the root causes of systemic injustice. When viewed this way, Vincent de Paul’s notion of charity can strike us as inadequate and even problematic if applied uncritically to today’s world. Yet, to understand Vincent effectively we must re-contextualize his teaching and practice of charity in a meaningful way for our time, such as understanding it as the affective and relational dimension of social justice. Charity, or its Latin root “caritas,” translates closely to our present-day notion of love. Re-contextualizing Vincent’s charity, then, presents us with a challenge rather than a concept easily dismissed. Is justice truly possible in the absence of charity? How can we channel our generosity and compassion for others into actions that communicate love and move us towards justice?

Laying Down Roots

“Nature makes trees put down deep roots before having them bear fruit, and even this is done gradually.”

The summer can serve as an opportunity for members of the DePaul community to think ahead and dream about where we can be years from now. It can be a time for each one of us to think about what programs or initiatives we want to invest in now that will bear fruit for future generations of DePaul students. What roots are you putting down today for your department or college’s future?

Vincent de Paul (Volume: 5 | Page#: 219) To Charles Ozenne, Superior, In Warsaw, 13 November, 1654

Mission Monday: The Virtue of Simplicity

“The heart must not think one thing while the mouth says another.”

Of all the virtues that are attributed to him, Saint Vincent valued simplicity above all else. He referred to it as “my gospel.” For Vincent, simplicity involved speaking the truth and aligning his words with his actions. What has helped you at DePaul to align the truth of your words with the truth of your actions? How can you continue to nurture this virtue of Vincentian simplicity?



Robert P. Maloney, C.M. The way of Vincent de Paul: five characteristic virtues, p.38

Self Care

“It seems to me that you are killing yourself from the little care you take of yourself.”
-Vincent de Paul (to Louise de Marillac)

Vincent de Paul cannot claim to have invented the idea of “self-care,” but he absolutely understood its value. Vincent knew that in order for him and his peers to effectively serve the poor in 17th Century France, they also needed to take care of themselves. Of the thousands of known letters that Vincent wrote over his lifetime, almost none were written on a Thursday. It is believed that Thursdays were Vincent’s personal day of rest every week. As we transition into the summer, in what ways will you practice self-care?  How can you find more ways to balance your work and personal life, your responsibilities and your leisure?


Vincent de Paul. #95, Vincent de Paul to Louise de Marillac, n.d. [c.1632], CCD 1:145.

Rare chasuble acquired

The Vincentiana Art Collection of the Division of Mission and Ministry of DePaul University has recently acquired an early 20th century Spanish “fiddleback” chasuble.  The beautiful white silk vestment has elaborate floral embroidery motifs, silver metallic and jeweled borders.  The front of the vestment has a charming cartouche of Saint Vincent and two foundlings.  The back side of the vestment has a cartouche of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

New Watercolor Acquired

The Vincentiana Art Collection of the Division of Mission and Ministry of DePaul University has recently acquired a charming 19th-century sepia watercolor of Saint Vincent de Paul with Foundlings by the 19th-century British author Hannah Mary Rathbone (b. 1798. d. 1878).

For more information about Rathbone’s life and literary career see her Wikipedia article:



Moving from Idea to Implementation

“If there is a patron saint of implementation, it is our own St. Vincent. Always suspicious of pure ideas untethered to concrete effects, he looks to the world of action to validate the ideas and follow through on their possibilities.” — Rev. Thomas McKenna, C.M. ( Many promising ideas never get to the finish line. Perhaps they are too abstract or too idealistic. Or, maybe we fall short in the courage, know-how, or perseverance to bring them to completion. However, consider Vincent de Paul’s inspirational lived example of testing out ideas, following through, and bringing them to the light of day. What idea might you seek to validate with others this week, or seek to move from your own imagination into action?


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