I learned Vincentian simplicity through my experience first, and only later made connections to its roots in our Vincentian family. The first Daughters of Charity I met showed me that simplicity is authenticity. The authenticity of I mean what I say is woven through work and personal life.
I recall Sister Frances Ryan, who taught in the College of Education (COE), offering me cutting-edge scholarship to address the big questions life was bringing up, accompanied by a phone call or handwritten note keeping my family in her heart and prayers. Sister Katie Norris, who served as director of Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM), brought Vincentian simplicity to our meetings by cutting through tense moments with a courageous, tender question or insight that quickly breathed imaginative, healing oxygen into the room. Sister Judy Warmbold, who shared her leadership and pastoral gifts in the Dax program for housing-insecure students and also with CCM, reminds me of the power of presence when I meet her, so often sitting with students. She centers the personal dignity of those in her midst with her listening heart and her laughter. Sister Betty Ann McNeil, Vincentian Scholar in Residence at DePaul, contributes knowledge and historical context with integrity and rigor in light of the sustained work of our Vincentian mission and legacy.
I feel blessed and grateful to have worked with these Daughters of Charity at DePaul University. Whether I have bumped into them on Halsted Street outside of the COE or at the Marillac Social Center in East Garfield Park, a simplicity of what you see is what you get has consistently been made real through their presence.
I write this reflection with the graduating seniors of 2022 in mind and heart. I join with all faculty, staff, and administrators in the DePaul community to offer this blessing:
As you begin the next chapter of your life, may you allow this Vincentian spirit of simplicity to guide you. May your professional endeavors be filled with an authenticity that breathes healing and friendship into your workplace. May your education be lifelong, ever embracing knowledge and wisdom. And may you continue to center the dignity of all, especially those excluded and marginalized.
Reflection by: Karl Nass, Director of Vincentian Service and Formation, Division of Mission and Ministry