Recently, due to a series of unique and unforeseen events, I received a surprising invitation. I was asked to stand-in as the “coach” for two DePaul student athletes competing at a tennis tournament in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What exactly were my qualifications for this role? Really, none at all… except for a relationship with DePaul Athletics, an amateur’s keen interest in the sport, and an open schedule and a valid driver’s license! Despite the spark of enthusiasm I immediately felt, given my lack of formal credentials it isn’t surprising I had reservations about this undertaking.
But looking back, I am so glad I did not give into my anxieties and decline the invitation. For if I had, I would have missed a truly memorable and enriching experience. The joy of connecting with students, the growth that results from new challenges, the fulfillment that comes from contributing to a greater good… none of these would have occurred in quite the same way if I hadn’t been open to opportunity.
As I reflect on our Vincentian Family’s 400-year history “gathered for the sake of the mission,” I know Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Frédéric Ozanam and others must have experienced fear and hesitation as they made decisions and took actions significantly greater than the one I described above. They made decisions involving risks and rewards, with outcomes that were uncertain. Understanding the challenges ahead, towards the end of his life Vincent de Paul exhorted his community members to, “Go, learn how to free yourself and to be open to God’s Will; let that be your lesson.” Vincent must have believed that the best decisions are the ones made from faith, love, and freedom.
All of us at DePaul make choices every day for ourselves, others, and our institution. As we scan our horizon of opportunities and search our hearts for guidance, are we open to the invitations that excite us and hold out the promise of life? In those moments of surprise or hesitation, perhaps we at DePaul can remember these words of Vincent: “Let’s be courageous! Let’s go wherever God may call us… let’s not fear anything.”
Are there invitations presenting themselves right now that spark excitement in you? What would it look like if you said “yes” to those invitations?
What might you do in your life that would enable you to become more open to life-giving opportunities? What might make you more open to the will of God?
 Conference 205, Indifference (Common Rules, Chap. II, Art. 10), 16 May 1659, CCD, 12:197.
 Conference 135, Repetition of Prayer, 22 August 1655. Ibid., 11:265.
Written by: Tom Judge, Division of Mission and Ministry