The motto on which the U.S. is built, its very foundation, is the Latin phrase E Pluribus Unum: “Out of many, one.” This motto has never been more relevant and urgent than today.
I have been insisting in different forums over the past couple of years that equity at DePaul is not simply a social, cultural, or political option. It is a concrete way for us to understand who we are. Our identity and our mission need to refer to equity intentionally and systemically. Our work to end all inequities within our institutional and social fabric is a basic consequence of this same principle.
“Out of many, one” only happens when the singularity of each member of the many is recognized, respected, and protected. Then all the singularities weave together naturally to become a beautiful pluralistic One. There is no space today for any ideology that denigrates the right to be any of the infinite forms of the Many that enable the One to be authentic, embracing all.
I am convinced that this is precisely the beauty of DePaul and our Vincentian DNA, which is connected to the national motto. I am also convinced that legislation or policy alone cannot solve the many problems we have with intolerance, hatred, exclusion, or violence. I have worked on political advocacy with other members of the Vincentian Family to promote systemic change and the eradication of all forms of social and environmental injustices. We believe this is also something that each one of us needs to incorporate into a personal way of being and relating.
In the 70s and 80s, the focus on social work and Catholic Social Teaching was almost exclusively on poverty. However, poverty is a consequence of a bigger systemic problem. Our focus is changing. Today the focus is on inequity. Attention to equity is attention to sustainable models. Equity is essential for DePaul, for society, and for humanity to be sustainable.
At the beginning of this new academic year, from my position in the Division of Mission and Ministry and from my identity as a Vincentian, I invite us to always preserve the dignity of each one and of all in everything we say and do. We must preserve the dignity of the Many so that we can honestly be One.
Each one of us should be aware of the healing, restorative power of our words; the transformative supportive power of our listening; and the compassionate, fulfilling experience of our presence in our relationships.
In Vincent de Paul’s teaching, there is a movement from religious devotion to transformative ethical actions that defend the most vulnerable and threatened. This ethical relationship with the Other, especially the vulnerable, can give us a full understanding of the mystery of life. So let us all, individually and collectively, use this new academic year as an opportunity to heal, to rebuild relationships, and to create new networks of support and care, always in the spirit of equity and the motto it embraces—out of many, one. We are all equal in our dignity. We are all worthy in our many, many differences. What a beautiful expression of our collective humanity in this microcosm that is DePaul University.
As we welcome the new members of our community, let’s all act in the spirit of hospitality, which calls us to embrace new members as our own. We are one family, a family that is always growing and being transformed, not just by new faces but also by new decisions, new opportunities, and by our decision to be new people in the way we see and treat each other.
Happy New Academic Year, DePaul University.
Let’s continue to work together. We are DePaul. Go, DePaul!
Reflection by: Fr. Guillermo Campuzano, C.M., Vice President for Mission and Ministry