Reflections on Mission in our Current Times
“Every good work…we do is a grain of seed for eternal life.” – St. Elizabeth Seton ¹
“The review and possible revision of DePaul University’s Mission Statement is happening at an unprecedented time that combines many different aspects related to the Vincentian mission.
The Covid-19 pandemic has unveiled that our social fabric is broken, as illustrated by a healthcare system that excludes most people in the world. The labor system has been exposed by the scale of unemployment and the sheer number of workers lacking rights, protection, or insurance. Our political system has also been exposed. Individual good and personal gain dominate political agendas, and political will has been compromised by business interests and corruption. What has been lost is the common good, which is needed now more than ever.
The recent killing of George Floyd and the national and global unrest that followed is alerting us that large portions of society are long tired of racism, exclusion, and discrimination. In the wake of these crises comes an outcry for systemic change and transformation.
From the perspective of our Vincentian mission we want to be a part of this call to action, this movement. DePaul’s mission must never be separated from the needs of the world. The Seeds of the Mission Campaign seeks to embrace this movement for justice that current events are inspiring. We expect the Seeds of the Mission campaign to lift up stories of mission-in-action and demonstrate how people make an impact at DePaul, in our city, across our nation, and throughout our world.” – Fr. Memo Campuzano, C.M.
What is the Seeds of the Mission Campaign?
“Nature makes trees put down deep roots before having them bear fruit, and even this is done gradually.” -Vincent de Paul ²
The Seeds of the Mission Campaign invites our DePaul community to witness, uphold, and celebrate DePaul’s mission-in-action as a tool for revising the university mission statement. A seed is a symbol of hope, something we need now more than ever. Rooted in the Vincentian practice of valuing experience, the Seeds of the Mission Campaign will gather stories of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners living the DePaul mission.
We recognize and celebrate the many diverse, creative, and deeply rooted seeds already answering the Vincentian question, “What Must Be Done?” Listening to and amplifying Seeds of the Mission stories helps us to understand who we have been, and who we are now, so that we may transform into who we are called to be in the twenty-first century.
Gathering Seeds of the Mission Stories
Over the course of the summer, the Division of Mission and Ministry will gather Seeds of the Mission stories. The process of revising a mission statement is about more than changing words on paper. It is about fostering ownership of the mission and taking action to live it out. To better do so, we need to hear your stories!
As we come to the end of an historic and unprecedented quarter, take some time to reflect on the Seeds of the Mission within your DePaul communities, both now and in the past. What stories do we need to tell to honor and celebrate all we have lived through together? We encourage DePaul students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners to participate. The following questions are meant to be guides, but if you find yourself reflecting on the Seeds of the Mission in a different way, please share that as well:
- Who do you see living the DePaul mission?
- During your time at DePaul, what creative ways have you answered the Vincentian question, “What must be done?”
- Where have you witnessed creative, transformative, or inventive love, solidarity, and education?
- Whose actions planted seeds of hope in the difficult soil of confusion, pain, and transition?
Submit your Seeds of the Mission Story Ideas HERE
Over the next couple of months the Division of Mission and Ministry hopes to find ways to share these stories.
- – 10.2, Maxims, Collected Writings, Elizabeth Bayley Seton, 3a:488.
- – 1796, To Charles Ozenne, Superior, In Warsaw, 13 November 1654, CCD, 5:219.
One thought on “Seeds of the Mission Campaign”
To my friends in Mission and Ministry: as you all begin the work of revision your mission statement, I strongly urge you to consider the incorporating elements of sustainability, particularly Integral Human Ecology and the tenets of Ladauto Si, into it. Indeed, these questions are all informed by aspects of sustainability:
1. Who do you see living the DePaul mission?
2. During your time at DePaul, what creative ways have you answered the Vincentian question, “What must be done?”
3. Where have you witnessed creative, transformative, or inventive love, solidarity, and education?
4. Whose actions planted seeds of hope in the difficult soil of confusion, pain, and transition?
In 2014 DePaul formally introduced its first Institutional Sustainability Plan. The ISP was the product of 7 years of research and hard work conducted by the Sustainability Initiatives Task Force (SITF). The SITF was composed of faculty, staff and students all of whom contributed greatly to its production. Dr. James Montgomery in the Department of Environmental Science and Studies, and Dr. Scott Kelley, formally of the Office of Mission and Values (and no longer at DePaul), were the co-leaders of the SITF. The ISP contains several recommendations for improving sustainable practices in its curriculum, operations, research, and engagement. With the exception of operations, which is under the purview of VP Bob Janis, the University has completely ignored these recommendations. To say this is disappointing, particularly in light of the fact that the SITF was only the second Presidential Task Force convened by Fr. Holtschneider, is an understatement and an embarrassment.
I am so glad about the return of Fr. Memo, and his “Reflections on Mission in Our Current Times” highlights the breakdown in our social, economic, and public health fabric. These issues scream out for developing a new paradigm grounded in sustainable practices. DePaul’s mission is grounded in sustainable practices. St. Vincent was engaging in sustainable practices at St. Lazare long before the word “sustainable” was in the French lexicon. Now is the time for Mission and Ministry to take the lead in promoting sustainable practices in the University….starting with its revision mission statement. If not M&M, then who?
Last week my colleague Dr. Christie Klimas and I had a Zoom-athon with some students in SGA. They had read the ISP, are passionate about sustainability, and want to move forward with promoting sustainable practices across all aspects of the University. I am excited by their passion, and it is such passion that has energized my time at DePaul for the past 27 years. When I grow weary of administrative shenanigans, endless meetings, etc…..I always come back to my students’ passion for improving the life of the University. However, at this point I am not sure if the recommendations in the ISP are still valid. Perhaps they are. The students and whomever else wants to re-think the ISP may want to keep some of the recommendations, scrap others, and come up with a new and improved ISP. The SITF always envisioned it as a living document. Now is the time to avail ourselves of the students’ passion and energy around re-imagining the ISP. I indicated I would be available for consultation, but it is my hope that other faculty will work with the students to on this worthy endeavor.
In case anyone things “sustainability” is passing fad, one only need to look at our Jesuit neighbors at Loyola, or Office of the Chancellor at UIC, to see how they have embedded sustainable practices into their mission, with outstanding results with respect to recruitment and fund raising. At the end of the day, I fear that it is always about the money.
I would be happy to talk with anyone in M&M about how to move forward with re-imagining the ISP.
With best wishes,
Jame Montgomery, Department of Environmental Science and Studies