Seeds of the Mission: Ken Butigan

Vincent DePaul: A life committed to Justice and Peace   

“Justice and Peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10)  

Vincent lived in complex historical times. In addition to addressing the poverty and inequality he saw throughout France, he also lived through a pandemic and spoke out adamantly against war. There was not a day in Vincent’s life when his country was at peace. This reality called him to become a peacemaker.   

Fr. Robert Maloney, CM, former Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission, writes of Vincent’s commitment to nonviolence in an article titled, “A Vincentian Reflection of Peace.” In the article, he shares the following stories.  

…in addition to his vigorous war-relief efforts, Vincent was also engaged in behind-the-scenes peacemaking. On two occasions he intervened personally, going right to the top… At some time between 1639 and 1642, during the wars in Lorraine, he went to Cardinal Richelieu, knelt before him, described the horrors of war, and pleaded for peace: “Let us have peace.  Have pity on us.  Give France peace.”  Richelieu refused, responding diplomatically that peace did not depend on him alone. […] In 1649, during the civil war, St. Vincent left Paris quietly, crossed battle lines and forded a flooded river (at almost 70 years of age) to see the queen and to beg her to dismiss Mazarin, whom he regarded as responsible for the war.  He also spoke directly to Mazarin himself.  But again his pleas went unheeded. [1] 

Vincent’s commitment to peacemaking is clear in the Vincentian virtue of meekness. Not to be mistaken for weakness, meekness refers to the intersection of gentleness and strength. It is about approachability, the ability to express righteous anger in constructive, productive ways. Meekness is an active expression of nonviolence, one that confronts injustice without inflicting more harm. It comes from an internal sense of peace.   

The call to nonviolence at DePaul also has roots in our Catholic identity. Pope Francis writes, “The Church is called to commit itself to the solution of problems concerning peace, harmony, the environment, the defense of life, and human and civil rights.” [2] He specifies, “the university world has a central role to play as the symbolic place of the integral humanism that continually needs to be renewed and enriched.” [3] 

At DePaul University, we know that justice leads to sustainable peace, a peace that takes courage, strength, and depth. We are committed to living out the Catholic, Vincentian value of nonviolence by equipping students with the toolbox to become effective agents of change in our world.  

 

Listen to the audio version of Ken’s interview on Nonviolence.



[1] Maloney, Robert P. C.M. (2004) “A Vincentian Reflection on Peace,” 
Vincentiana: Vol. 48 : No. 2 , Article 11. Pg. 118. Available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentiana/vol48/iss2/11  

[2] Bonanata, E. and Gomes, R. (2020, September 18) Pope Francis on training the next generation to be peacemakers. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-09/pope-francis-preface-book-lev-young-peacemakers.html 

[3] ibid  

 

 

 

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