Tomorrow, January 25, is Foundation Day! So … what is that? It’s a day Vincentians around the world celebrate one of the community’s key origin stories. Everyone has an origin story—not just comic book superheroes, or even saints. They are moments where the line between before and after becomes very clear. Foundational stories help frame and contextualize our lives and give us resources to understand and overcome whatever current challenges we face.
Take our own hero, Saint Vincent de Paul. Several well-known experiences formed who Vincent became—and the legacy that we still live out today. One was in a small village named Folleville in France. At the time, Vincent was a priest accompanying his incredibly wealthy benefactor Madame de Gondi on a tour of her lands (we are talking, “I have a family castle up the road” wealthy). Vincent, though of course concerned with the welfare of the poor, was not yet the driven saint that we know today. He saw joining the priesthood as the surest way of enjoying the finer things in life. His experiences at Folleville were about to change all that.
In January 1617, while staying at said family castle, Vincent received a message that a sick peasant desperately wanted to see him. When Vincent arrived, he discovered that the man was dying, and he proceeded to take his last confession. After a lengthy conversation—that seemed to be grounded in what we might call mutuality today—both men found joy in unburdening themselves to each other. This cathartic experience shook Vincent to his core, so much so that he brought “I have a castle” Madame de Gondi to the peasant’s small hut to talk with him. This transformed her as well, and a mission began that was centered on the question, “what must be done?” In retrospect, Vincent looked back on the sermon he gave about this experience on January 25, 1617, as the formation of the Congregation of the Mission—an institution through which we find our own origin and mission as a university.
Foundation Day is the story of when Saint Vincent really understood what his mission was and what questions he should be asking and answering. His formative experience with the peasant not only inspired internal reflections but drove him to action—and it has inspired the actions of many others over the past four centuries.
What is your DePaul origin story? When was the moment you really understood how you needed to live and what you needed to do … or what DePaul’s mission was all about? Which person or people helped you to really see how your work contributes to DePaul’s (or the Vincentian) mission? What experiences opened your eyes to “what must be done?” Whatever your answers, these are now a part of your foundational story.
Reflection by: Alex Perry, Program Manager for Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission and Ministry
Foundation Day Celebration
Tuesday, January 25, 11:00 – 1:30pm
LPC Student Center Atrium & Loop DePaul Center, 11th Floor
Join Mission & Ministry to celebrate the 405th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation of the Mission. Stop by for a snack and take a moment to reflect on how you carry out the Vincentian legacy at DePaul.
DePaul SOCK DRIVE
Monday, January 24th – Friday January 28th
Further celebrate Vincentian Foundation Day through action! Join us as we partner with the Wool Gathering Project to collect socks for those who need them this winter to stay warm. Just get a brand new pair of socks of any kind and drop them off at the bins at any of the following locations sometime this week:
11th Floor DePaul Center, Loop Campus, Near #11010
1st Floor Student Center, Near the CCM Office on the West End.
The Theatre School, Near 1st floor Elevators