What Beautiful Opportunities…

“…we need to reflect on our willingness to sacrifice, or what we call in our own Vincentian tradition, the virtue of mortification. The root of the word mortification is to die to oneself, to sacrifice, to put the other first.” – 2009 Lenten letter, G. Gregory Gay, C.M. (former Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission), see: https://vinformation.org/en/2015/03/video-of-quotes-on-the-virtue-of-mortification/

Historians say that the virtue St. Vincent de Paul called “mortification” might be better understood as something akin to self-discipline or even sacrifice. In other words, mortification means giving up something we value for the sake of something more valuable. This underlying principle can be quite challenging to live out. Denying ourselves something we desire, in favor of something more worthy but perhaps less enjoyable, takes considerable focus and intentionality.

For Vincent, acts of self-discipline were made easier through being mindful of the result that followed. Therefore, he exhorted his community members to have courage in the face of obstacles for “their reward is great in proportion to the work entailed.” (204, Mortification, 2 May 1659, CCD, 12:185.)

Another helpful way to consider self-discipline may be to ask why we are performing the act. Could it be for reasons of courtesy (giving up our seat on the “L”), or self-improvement (exercising or studying hard), or to benefit the common good (performing our job well, serving the community)? Whatever the worthy motivation for our behavior, being mindful of our values and then endeavoring to live out those values, even in the face of challenge, is the epitome of the virtue Vincent called mortification. It is what we strive to achieve to this very day.

What worthy behaviors do you find most difficult to live out? Does it help if you consider why you are doing them or what the results of your actions will be? What things are hard for you to let go as you pursue a more worthy goal? What areas of your life, at either DePaul or elsewhere, do you think would benefit from some form of self-discipline?

Reflection by:

Tom Judge, chaplain, Division of Mission and Ministry


Upcoming Events:


Day with Vincent: A Day of Service and Reflection for Faculty and Staff

Friday, March 6th, 2020: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Are you interested in joining your colleagues to put mission into action during a day of service and reflection? Join us for this special mission engagement and learning opportunity for DePaul’s faculty and staff. We will focus on gaining a deeper understanding of DePaul’s Vincentian mission, and on integrating a commitment to service with our personal sense of purpose. This Day with Vincent retreat doubles as Part II of the Explore Your Purpose Workshop series for staff and faculty. For more information, please contact Tom Judge at tjudge@depaul.edu.

Simplicity is the Virtue I Love the Most

 “Simplicity is the virtue I love the most and to which, I think, I pay the most attention in my actions.”
— Vincent de Paul (CCD, 1:265)

Recent social movements have made transparency a growing expectation for companies and organizations in society. Along with this, authenticity has become a cherished value for many people in a world under barrage by social media and advertisements that make it difficult for us to determine what is real or true.

Vincent de Paul’s understanding of simplicity – the virtue he cherished most – emphasized this type of transparency and authenticity. As Vincent understood it, being simple means being honest, as well demonstrating what we believe in concrete ways through our actions. Vincent would have been comfortable saying that it is not what we say but rather what we do that communicates what we truly value. The wisdom found in Vincent’s notion of simplicity asks us to ensure that our professed values are evident in our daily decisions, behaviors, and relationships.

A focus on the virtue of simplicity, therefore, would beg a number of questions both personally and collectively: What are the core values that are most important to you? Would others see these values shine through in your daily actions? Based on our shared Vincentian mission, what values are most important to us at DePaul? Do our daily actions and decisions match these ideals or, conversely, where do we fall short? How can we better practice what we preach to live the values we espouse?

Reflection by:

Mark Laboe, Associate Vice President, Mission and Ministry

Day with Vincent: A Day of Service and Reflection for Faculty and Staff

Friday, March 6th, 2020. 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Are you interested in joining your colleagues to put mission into action during a day of service and reflection? Join us for this special mission engagement and learning opportunity for DePaul’s faculty and staff. We will focus on gaining a deeper understanding of DePaul’s Vincentian mission by integrating a commitment to service with our personal sense of purpose. This Day with Vincent retreat doubles as Part II of the Explore Your Purpose Workshop series for staff and faculty. For more information, please contact Tom Judge at tjudge@depaul.edu.

Resolutions for the New Year

Vincent de Paul suggested that we focus our resolutions on those that help us acquire the spirit of the mission entrusted to us.

Let’s take renewed resolutions to acquire this spirit, which is our spirit; for the spirit of the Mission is a spirit of simplicity, humility, gentleness, mortification, and zeal. Do we have it or don’t we?” (CCD, 12:251.)

Mortification doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, and today, humility and gentleness may not be the virtues to which we aspire above all others. However, Vincent’s wisdom may serve us well as we face the New Year, and perhaps as we commit to renewed resolutions for the time ahead. Vincent suggested that our lived values should be those that ultimately enable us to serve a bigger mission or purpose, our calling, or that which we are seeking to fulfill. He believed that his commitment to serve those who were in need required an imitation of the virtues he recognized in Jesus. A contemporary translation of Vincent’s characteristic virtues suggests that we must strive to be honest, approachable, self-disciplined, realistic, and hard working.

As you pause to consider your own personal sense of mission and the mission entrusted to us here at DePaul, what do you believe are the primary values essential for us to make real in our daily decisions and actions during the year to come?

We will be focusing Mission Monday reflections on these Vincentian virtues in the coming weeks as we begin the New Year. For more on a contemporary interpretation of the virtues, see “Our Good Will and Honest Efforts,” by Edward R. Udovic, C.M.:

Article: https://via.library.depaul.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1321&context=vhj

Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YG1viPqRnw


Reflection by:

Mark Laboe, Associate Vice President, Mission and Ministry

Learning to Rely on Others

Vincent de Paul is recorded as having asked:  “What do you think is most often the cause of our failings in our resolutions? It’s that we depend too much on ourselves, we put trust in our good desires, we rely on our own strength, and that’s the reason we don’t get any good results from them.” (Conference 70, Meditation, CCD, 11:79)

Have you ever had a conversation with a student or with a colleague and found that they are struggling in holding their burdens by themselves for too long?  Conversely, might a friend, colleague, or family member have tried to tell you that you are not alone in something that you are trying to carry all by yourself?

Often, when we rely and trust those beyond ourselves we can get unstuck, begin healing, and finally move forward with good results.

Vincent saw his own attachments and reached beyond himself – always returning to his community and to God. As you prepare for 2020, perhaps with a new resolution, where are you being invited to trust more in others and to move beyond merely relying on yourself and your own efforts?

Reflection by:

Karl Nass, Director, Vincentian Service and Formation, Mission and Ministry


The 2019 Vinny Prize

During the holiday season, we often find ourselves thinking of those less fortunate than us. Yet did you know that studies show cultivating empathy, especially amongst young people, is also linked to reducing crime and increasing one’s overall happiness? It’s in this spirit that we share the 2019 VINNY PRIZE winner, Mykhailo Bogdanov’s touching film based on his experience volunteering at a PADS homeless shelter.  You can find this short video  on You Tube here:  Public Action to Deliver Shelter

Vincentian Candor 101

Is the world awash in duplicity?

When was the last time you heard the media report an incredulous story? Did you hear an inner voice say, “Now, I’ve heard it all!” Such occurrences seem more frequent these days than in the past.

The age of disputed questions did not end with Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth-century. The chicaneries of seventeenth-century France prompted Saint Vincent de Paul to exclaim, “The world is awash in duplicity.” (CCD, 10:58) The saint encouraged his collaborators to “have a candid heart and candid spirit.” (Ibid.) He instructed them how to engage appropriately in public discourse and civic rhetoric. They were “never to say anything contrary” to what they thought or to their principles. (CCD, 10:286)

Now, as does a toxin, polemical disputation permeates our national psyche. We are left to ask, What must be done? Perhaps Vincentian personalism is our answer. It promotes unity in diversity and emphasizes the common good of everyone. The Vincentian way is honest, forthright, and employs the art of conversation to speak respectfully and listen attentively with a “spirit of straightforwardness and simplicity,” and ultimately, integrity. (CCD, 34a:41)


Reflection by:

Betty Ann McNeil, D.C., Vincentian Scholar-in-Residence
Vincentian Studies Institute, Division of Mission and Ministry

Conference 66, Secretiveness, CCD, 10:58; Conference 86, Uniformity, CCD, 10:286; Conference 34a, Simplicity with Crafty Persons, CCD, 34a:41.

Public Action to Deliver Shelter

Two years ago, DePaul film student, Mykhailo Bogdanov, volunteered at P.A.D.S. for an overnight shift. He was fascinated by the dedication and love showed by the staff to every person who came in for shelter. That night changed him forever. He described it as “an unbelievable experience to help and most importantly, to give my time to those who were in need of it.” It was so marking, in fact, that he decided to create a short film about it which went on to win first place in the 2019 Vinny Prize competition.


Dax House – Explore Your Purpose Video Series

We sometimes forget that homelessness affects people from every walk of life, including college students. The DAX house is a project between DePaul Charity USA and DePaul University to serve the fifty or so estimated students experiencing homelessness while pursuing their studies. Hear their stories and the purpose of this mission from Program Coordinator, Sister Judy Warmbold and former Director, Abe Morris.

Looking Forward with Hope

“We must go forward without becoming discouraged…” — Vincent de Paul

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, many of us reflect upon the past year and on what lies ahead. In numerous spiritual traditions, we are encouraged to pay attention to the environmental changes around us as signs and reminders of the Divine plan. While change is a natural and constant part of our lives, it can often be anxiety producing. We look at changes in the world and our country, or perhaps changes in higher education broadly and here at DePaul, and we may not always feel confident it is for the better. Sometimes we may wish things would just stay the same. Even if we know the imperfections, there is comfort in familiarity.

Saint Vincent witnessed tremendous change in the world around him. Seventeenth-century France was a society often in a state of conflict and flux. A key component of Vincentian spirituality is paying attention to the signs around us, carefully discerning a path forward, then taking action and trusting in divine providence. Vincent encouraged his followers in times of change to look for how they were being invited forward, believing that “…on God’s road, not to advance is to fall back since man never remains in the same condition.” (CCD, 2:146) In other words, the world changes and so must we.

As you reflect upon the past year, on the things you are grateful for, as well as the challenges you have faced, what have you learned that can inform your course of action for times ahead?  Where are your seeds of hope and possibility? Knowing the nature of our world, how can you best prepare for the change ahead while maintaining faith in the midst of uncertainty?

Citation:          1307, “To René Alméras,” 3 January 1651, CCD, 4:139; and 490, “To Etienne Blatiron, 9 October 1640, CCD, 2:146.

Reflection By:            

Abdul-Malik Ryan
Assistant Director and Muslim Chaplain
Division of Mission and Ministry


Did you know that there is a whole host of Vincentian mission based resources available digitally? Visit the “All Things Vincentian” page, spend some time browsing, and learn more about DePaul’s Vincentian heritage during the winter holidays.

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In the spirit of today’s reflection, you are invited to a day of reflection, renewal and community building for DePaul faculty and staff:

A Day with Vincent

Thursday, December 5th, 2019 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

Cenacle Retreat and Conference Center, 513 W. Fullerton in Lincoln Park.

A Day with Vincent is an opportunity for DePaul staff and faculty to find spiritual enrichment and community, to reconnect with a sense of calling, and to deepen their understanding of our Vincentian mission.  The day is free of charge and meals will be provided. Participants will be back to campus by 4:30 pm with transportation provided as needed.  Now in its 12th year, A Day with Vincent helps participants find time and space within their busy lives to reflect deeply on Vincentian spirituality and mission while enabling them to engage with colleagues from across the university. Led by professional staff from the Division of Mission and Ministry and attended through the years by over 700 DePaul faculty and staff, the program is welcoming and supportive to those of all religious, spiritual and philosophical backgrounds and starting points.

In the quiet of December, as the academic quarter and calendar year draw to a close and the holidays approach, we hope you’ll join us for this opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, individually and communally.

WEBLINK FOR REGISTRATION:  http://go.depaul.edu/daywithvincent






Quiet awaits you!

St. Vincent once said to Saint Louis, “It seems to me that you are killing yourself from the little care you take of yourself.” (Vincent de Paul , n.d. [c.1632], CCD 1:145.)

As the quarter comes to an end it is important for all members of DePaul’s community to be mindful of taking care of themselves. Solid and significant rest, a healthy diet, exercise, and hydration are all essential to one’s well-being during the stresses of finishing up the quarter.

But, equally important is making time to simply be still. The Division of Mission and Ministry (DMM) staff know the importance of quiet reflection, prayer, and meditation—especially in the midst of hyper busyness. And, so DMM invites you to stop the madness and enter into stillness by visiting the Interfaith Sacred Spaces.


 A newly blessed Sacred Space just opened in the Loop and is located on the 11th floor of the Student Center, room 11008.

If you’re in Lincoln Park, please feel free to stop by the Sacred Space located on the first floor of the Student Center, next to the chapel. In this season of finals, may you find your quiet space and engage in caring for YOU!


Information on the Interfaith Sacred Spaces on campus:

DePaul University is a school not only dedicated to celebrating diversity, but it also encourages students to develop their full selves while on campus.

In order to support religious diversity on campus and provide students with space to develop their spirituality, faith, or purpose, the university has several places set aside for prayer, worship, reflection, and study. In addition to two chapels as well as the Lincoln Park Interfaith Sacred Space, an Interfaith Sacred Space was recently dedicated in the Loop. The Loop Interfaith Sacred Space is located in the Student Center, room 11008, and is available to any member of the university community  (university ID card necessary for swipe entry) seeking an oasis for reflection, prayer, and quiet. All are welcome to stop by and use the space on a first come, first served basis or information on reserving the space for recurring prayer, reflection, worship, or study can be obtained by contacting Diane Dardón, ddardon@depaul.edu.

Vincent’s “Great Sin”

In the telling of our story, we find out who we truly are.

DePaul University is graced with an array of statues and artwork that remind us of our founder. However, how often do we actually reflect on the person of Vincent de Paul, and the sometimes-surprising joys and challenges that made him a real person?

Vincent de Paul came from “peasant stock,” yet his life would lead him to the highest civil and ecclesiastical circles of seventeenth-century France, and would connect him to people with social standing far above his own. A challenge that first confronted Vincent, when still an adolescent, was how to integrate his humble roots with his education and rising social status.

A poignant moment in Vincent’s early life reveals this struggle. Vincent wrote, “I remember that once… at the college where I was studying, I was informed that my father, who was a poor peasant, was asking for me. I refused to go talk to him. In so doing I committed a great sin.”

We know from Vincent’s writings that he wrestled with ambivalent feelings regarding his humble background. However, over the years, Vincent was able to integrate these challenging thoughts into an evolving and authentic sense of self in terms of who he was becoming.

Vincent’s life presents us with an invitation to ask ourselves, how successfully have we integrated our past into the reality of our present? What lessons do our personal histories still have to teach us? As DePaul itself seeks to flourish by moving forward, how can we look back and remain true to the roots that ground us as an institution?

Citation: Stafford Poole, C.M., “The Formative Years of a Saint: Vincent de Paul,” Vincentian Heritage 13:2 (1992), 82.


Reflection by Siobhan O’Donoghue