What is Vincentian Hospitality?

Last week, DePaul University’s new president, Rob Manuel, shared a message in honor of the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul. He detailed the concepts of radical hospitality and service as deeply connected to the spirit and life example of Vincent de Paul, an ongoing inspiration for us today. While the connection between mission and service is familiar to most at DePaul, in subsequent conversations I observed that the idea of radical hospitality was new to many. This was especially true in articulating the present day meaning of DePaul’s Vincentian mission. The concept of such hospitality, however, has deep roots in our Vincentian heritage and is rooted in the life example and testimony of Vincent de Paul. There is great spiritual depth to the practice and experience of radical hospitality, particularly when considering our mission.

A common Vincentian story told at DePaul is often referred to as the story of the white tablecloth. In the foundational documents and rules established for the Confraternity in Châtillon-les-Dombes in 1617, Vincent de Paul explained the careful attention necessary when seeking to serve those in need. He recommended that missioners lay out a white cloth before serving food to a person in need, and that they engage in kind and cheerful conversation to better understand the context of that person’s story.(1) The attentive care communicated through gestures such as these reflect a recognition of the sacred dignity of those being served, as well as the essential relational dimension of human interaction, breaking down the distinction between “us” and “them.”

When Vincent established the Congregation of the Mission, he recognized the importance of establishing “a community gathered for the sake of the mission.” This community would not be based upon individual action, it would be built on the collective interdependence of those sharing a common purpose. Vincent took this further in establishing the Daughters of Charity alongside Louise de Marillac. Louise invited young peasant women into her personal space and formed a community. She recognized their potential and taught them to read and write, equipping them to be catalysts of change in their communities. Such hospitality was unprecedented at the time. Louise created entirely new opportunities that did not exist previously for women in society. With Vincent she shaped an intergenerational community, gathering women across all boundaries of social class. The Daughters believed that the “streets are our chapel,” and they continue to carry a spirit of personalism, openness, and hospitality outward, wherever they go.

In 2016, a special edition of the journal Vincentian Heritage was devoted to the theme of hospitality. It was inspired by our Vincentian spirit, so urgently needed in today’s world. The articles in this virtual compendium of Vincentian hospitality contain many insights on the transformative power of the practice of possibility.

The preface describes Vincent de Paul as a “hospitality practitioner” due to his desire to serve and care for others in the way that is best for them.(2) Subsequent articles further develop the theme through the lens of Vincentian tradition, emphasizing hospitality as a “sacred” experience that reflects the very nature of God. Vincent and Louise’s attention to the quality of the services they provided is singled out as a reflection of their deep, faith-based commitment to offering the best care possible to others, particularly those that society forgot or diminished.(3) An encounter of hospitality as a transformational event is highlighted “because we are engaging in new relations and opening ourselves to deep change.” In the process of encountering others, we must simultaneously address the harmful or unjust structures that get in the way of the effective care that hospitality demands.(4) Cultivating friendships and learning to listen deeply to oneself and the needs of others in the manner of Vincent de Paul is emphasized, as is the practice of hospitality to students of all faith traditions. We must recognize the importance of our words and actions in welcoming and caring for students, and in helping them to feel at home.(5) The intentional practice of hospitality, and how it effectively passes on the Vincentian mission and charism in the relational encounter between students and community partners, is also detailed.(6) Vincentian hospitality has been successfully used to address some of today’s most pressing societal issues.(7) Other articles discuss Vincent’s attentive care and concern for the sick and indigent, prisoners, and foreign migrants, and all those whom society tends to marginalize.(8) This edition truly illustrates how the practice of hospitality can serve as a catalyst for both inner and outer transformation.

Interestingly, an earlier Vincentian Heritage article by Sioban Albiol in DePaul’s College of Law points out that Vincent was himself a migrant and therefore he maintained a special concern for foreigners. This was reflected in the hospitality he provided to others.(9) The article states:

Saint Vincent de Paul must have felt the blessing and the pain of migration in his own life. Like so many economic refugees, at some personal cost to himself and his family. His father’s selling of two oxen to finance Saint Vincent’s studies is recounted by several authors. He left his home in order to pursue educational opportunity and economic security that could not be found in his place of birth. The land where he was born would have provided a bare existence.(10)

Vincent’s frequent reflection upon and practice of charity connects closely to the concept of hospitality. While today charity may sound soft and ineffective in the face of large, structured inequities, it also might be understood as the critical affective and relational dimension to justice. In fact, Vincent’s emphasis on charity was about action and generativity beyond the surface level.(11) Vincent advised his followers that charity involved the willingness to endure risks for the sake of offering hospitality to those in need: “If you grant asylum to so many refugees, your house may be sacked sooner by soldiers; I see that clearly. The question is, however, whether, because of this danger, you should refuse to practice such a beautiful virtue as charity.”(12) Enduring risks and vulnerability means extending ourselves beyond our comfort zone for the sake of others. Vincent’s charity, and his personal transformation over time, began by responding to the needs of those in front of him. He saw it as a virtue and an imperative of his Christian faith to be approachable.(13)

The resources above may help to shape a distinctive Vincentian hospitality vitally integral to sustaining and energizing the daily practice of our mission as we engage students, colleagues, community partners, and guests and visitors within our DePaul campus and community. However, in the spirit of Vincent de Paul, we will only learn radical hospitality and understand its profound meaning through concrete actions and experiences.

How might a radical Vincentian hospitality become concrete and real in our day-to-day interactions and encounters?

How might the practice of hospitality lead to both inner and outer transformation—within us and within the communities of which we are a part?


Reflection by: Mark Laboe, Associate VP, Mission and Ministry

1) See Document 126, Charity of Women, (Châtillon-Les-Dombes), 1617, CCD, 13b:13; and Document 130, Charity of Women, (Montmirail – II), CCD, 13b:40. At: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian‌_ebooks/‌38/.

2) Thomas A. Maier, Ph.D. “Preface: The Nature and Necessity of Hospitality,” Vincentian Heritage 33:1 (2016), available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol33/iss1/1.

3) Thomas A. Maier, Ph.D., and Marco Tavanti, Ph.D., “Introduction: Sacred Hospitality Leadership: Values Centered Perspectives and Practices,” Ibid., at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol33/iss1/2.

4) Ibid, p. 5.

5) Annelle Fitzpatrick, C.S.J., Ph.D., “Hospitality on a Vincentian Campus: Welcoming the Stranger Outside our Tent,” Ibid., at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol33/iss1/9.

6) Joyana Dvorak, “Cultivating Interior Hospitality: Passing the Vincentian Legacy through Immersion,” Ibid., at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol33/iss1/16.

7) J. Patrick Murphy, C.M., Ph.D., “Hospitality in the Manner of St. Vincent de Paul,” Ibid., at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.edu/vhj/vol33/iss1/12.

8) See John E. Rybolt, C.M., Ph.D., “Vincent de Paul and Hospitality,” Ibid., at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vhj/‌vol33/iss1/5; John M. Conry, “Reflections from the Road: Vincentian Hospitality Principles in Healthcare Education for the Indigent,” Ibid., at: http://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol33/iss1/14.

9) Siobhan Albiol, J.D., “Meeting Saint Vincent’s Challenge in Providing Assistance to the Foreign-Born Poor: Applying the Lessons to the Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic,” Vincentian Heritage 28:2 (2010), at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol28/iss2/20/.

10) Ibid., p. 282.

11) Conference 207, Charity (Common Rules, Chap. II, Art. 12), 30 May 1659, CCD, 12:223, at: https://‌via.‌‌library.‌depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/36/.

12) Letter 1678, Vincent de Paul to Louis Champion, Superior, In Montmirail, November 1653, CCD, 5:49, at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/30/.

13) See Robert Maloney, C.M., “The Way of Vincent de Paul: Five Characteristic Virtues,” Via Sapientiae, (DePaul University, 1991), at: Five Characteristic Virtues; also Edward R. Udovic, C.M., Ph.D., “‘Our good will and honest efforts.’ Vincentian Perspectives on Poverty Reduction Efforts,” Vincentian Heritage 28:2, at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol28/iss2/5.

Vincent de Paul: An Essential Memory

This week we are celebrating the best of our spiritual heritage: the life of Saint Vincent de Paul.

I discovered St. Vincent when I joined the Congregation of the Mission at 18 years of age on February 5, 1984. I was looking for community and a communal experience. I rapidly felt in love with him, his life, his commitment, his humanism, and his endless creativity. Over the past 38 years I have come to understand that Vincent is an important part of an infinite constellation of guardians, prophets, and witnesses. He is part of a constant, sacred memory of the God of a thousand names and expressions in a vast array of religions, cultures, and spiritualities.

Vincent de Paul is a very human prophet and teacher capable of provoking a yearning within us for God, the God of the poor and the most abandoned. This memory and our yearning take concrete form as something bigger than our own egos. We recognize it as something essential for a peaceful and sustainable coexistence in this, our common home. Vincent’s life and his work were inspired by the memory of God, a memory and yearning for compassion, mercy, solidarity, transformation, and love and justice. The memory of God in Vincent’s life is a strength that forces us to go to the margins, to welcome the stranger, to console the afflicted, to free the oppressed, and to “leave no one behind.”[1]

Today Vincent de Paul is a living memory, and our yearning must therefore include working for racial equity and to overcome structural racism and systems of white supremacy. For us, we must recognize the historical reality of the unfortunate connections some members of the Congregation of the Mission had to slavery in the nineteenth century. And we must articulate the connections that enslavement and the legacy of institutional racism have to our present. The yearning of God must be a yearning for truth and transformation.

I am certain that Vincent himself experienced a memory and yearning for God early in life. “He left his home diocese, Dax, and moved to the capital around 1607, where he began to make contacts among the ecclesiastical and even social elite. Being surrounded with refugees, the poor, and the marginalized, his attention gradually shifted away from his personal advancement toward service given to his needy sisters and brothers.”[2] The poor provoked in Vincent an essential memory of who he was called to be. They became both unique human beings endowed with sacred dignity and a living memory of the revelation of God. Every single day they called him to service, to compassion, to solidarity, and to transformation. In Vincent’s heart relationships with those who were poor led to a constant yearning for God, for the best of our human experience. They transformed his very existence.

Vincent was a humble man. He never aspired or claimed to be a “little god” or tried to control everything and everyone. He lived with a yearning and sense of God’s presence throughout his life, especially when doubts or conflict surrounded him. He felt this essential yearning and connection to God in his daily work, in the loving coexistence of his community, and in the day-to-day struggles to sustain all the projects he created to help victims of war, peasants, men in prisons, the destitute, the sick, and abandoned children. More than believing in God, Vincent de Paul knew God, served God, and committed his life to God as present to him in all those most abandoned by society. It was in the poor that he knew God, loved God, and felt the living God. His commitment to the excluded, the ones on the margins, the most abandoned, became one of those essential and perennial memories in his developing a deeper form of humanity.

Therefore, our Vincentian theological-spiritual approach is not of a pious type. Instead, it attempts to make a leap from religious devotion to ethical dedication in favor of social and environmental justice for the defense of vulnerable and threatened life. Vincent de Paul gave religion an ethical horizon. He taught us that the recognition and care for the dignity of the other, especially the ones on the margins of society, is essential to really experience God, to know God, and to serve God.

In this celebration of the feast of Saint Vincent my Vincentian heart feels a yearning for God, a yearning for compassion and solidarity, for equity and inclusion, and for respect, recognition, and care.

Happy feast of Saint Vincent to our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Over this week, let us experience together a yearning for those essential things that bring us joy and inner peace.


Reflection by: Fr. Memo Campuzano, C.M., Vice-President for Mission and Ministry

[1] Cf. Luke 4:16-21.

[2] John E. Rybolt, C.M., Ph.D., “Vincent de Paul and Hospitality,” Vincentian Heritage 33:1 (2016), at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.edu/vhj/vol33/iss1/5/.

 

 

Lawful Assembly Podcast – Episode 30: Who Is My Neighbor?

This is an interview with Rev. Craig B. Mousin, an Adjunct Faculty member of the DePaul University’s College of Law, Refugee and Forced Migrations Studies Program and the Grace School of Applied Diplomacy. The podcast examines the recent bussing of asylum applicants to northern cities.  Through exploration of the Good Samaritan Parable, the podcast invites listeners to ask the question how can we each be a neighbor to a vulnerable person.

ACTION STEP

1.      Read the Good Samaritan Parable, Luke 10:25-37, and engage in a conversation with someone regarding how it applies to the efforts to send asylum applicants away from the border.

2.      Encourage Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

RESOURCES

Sara Baielles’ “A Safe Place to Land” with John Legend is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht2NCrlghS4

For an expanded discussion of Dr. André LaCocque’s interpretation of the Good Samaritan Parable, including citations to his works, see my article on “Constantine’s Legacy: Preserving Empire While Undermining International Law”. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3960335

at pp. 390-91.

Mayor Sean McDermott’s quote can be found in “Texas Gov. Abbott sends asylum seekers here to sow chaos, but Illinois is better than that,” (September 15, 2022) at: https://chicago.suntimes.com/2022/9/15/23355440/texas-gov-abbott-asylum-seekers-venezuela-immigrants-countryside-mayor-sean

Paul Wickham Schmidt, “Opportunity Knocks,” (September 16, 2022) at:

https://immigrationcourtside.com/2022/09/17/

You may find Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman’s book, All Are Neighbors at: https://www.womenandchildrenfirst.com/book/9780593429983

The budget for the federal government support of refugee resettlement came from:  Todd Miller, “More Than a Wall: Corporate Profiteering and the Militarization of U.S. Borders,” Transnational Institute (TNI), September 16, 2019) at https://www.tni.org/files/publication-downloads/more_than_a_wall_-_executive_summary.pdf

Stories of Life Made New

The 1947 French film Monsieur Vincent opens with a striking sequence during which Vincent de Paul arrives at the city of Châtillon to serve as a priest. Châtillon is depicted as a place where the sick and the poor are left to die. Meanwhile, the rich party behind closed doors as the plague sweeps through town. Everyone has seemingly lost faith. People laugh when Vincent tells them he has come to serve as priest, horrified that he intends to assist the poor and the sick most of all. While Vincentian historians may point out the many ways this dramatization conflicts with historical record, it does bear a thematic resemblance to some of the testimonies given by residents during the investigation for the canonization of Vincent after his death.

Although we are fortunate to have many volumes of letters and conferences by Saint Vincent, we are sometimes stymied in our search to better understand details of Vincent’s life. He seems to have been reluctant to talk about himself, especially his past. In his spiritual urging of others, Vincent was often self-deprecating and humble. He was fond of referring to his peasant origins and his childhood tending animals, which was understood to be very humble work. Of course, in many spiritual traditions the work of the shepherd is linked to the tasks of prophets and other servants of the divine. Indeed, in the Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad affirms that in his youth he too served as a humble shepherd and that in fact this is true of all the prophets of God.

In addition to the inherent humility of this occupation, many have written of the important lessons one learns from this type of work in order to “pastor” human persons. In another hadith, or prophetic teaching, Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, is reported to have said, “All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for their flock.” A central aspect of the value of personalism embraced at DePaul can be found in this shared human understanding of pastoral responsibility. Margarita Mooney Suarez has described personalism as a “middle way between radical individualism and collective authoritarianism.”[1] In the pastoral wisdom of personalism one may be responsible for a group, whether large or small, but one can only fulfill that responsibility by recognizing the sacred dignity and uniqueness of each of the persons under their care.

The Qur’an calls the attention of the listener to the revival of the earth, which appears dead, with the coming of the rain: “And among His signs is that you see the earth devoid of life, but as soon as We send down rain upon it, it begins to stir ˹to life˺ and swell. Indeed, the One Who revives it can easily revive the dead.”[2] In this and other verses like it, the Qur’an affirms both an everlasting life for the soul after death and the revival of hearts which appear dead. I would argue that in the sacred attention and care that accompanies personalism, one can find not only a revival of individual hearts but of communities that may appear dead or devoid of vibrancy.

This is one lens through which to understand the testimonies of those in Châtillon detailing Monsieur Vincent’s effect over several months in 1617. After someone has a wonderful revival experience it is often difficult to communicate the depth of that to others. When individuals testify to an important life-giving change they often emphasize or even exaggerate the more negative aspects of their prior life. Sometimes this is done to make their story more compelling or dramatic, but just as often it is a desperate attempt to convey just how important and beautiful the change was for them.

Both individually and as an institution, as we continue the process of revival in emerging from the depths of the pandemic and the many other difficulties we have faced, let us embrace sacred attention to all those under our care. Furthermore, let us remember and celebrate the countless sacred acts that carried us through our lowest moments and prepared us for the coming of a new spring.


Reflection by: Abdul-Malik Ryan, Asst. Director Religious Diversity & Pastoral Care, Muslim Chaplain

[1] Margarita Mooney Suarez, “Being Human in the Modern World: Why Personalism Matters for Education and Culture,” 25 June 2018, Public Discourse, at: https://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2018/06/21942/.

[2] Quran 41:39.

On Uncertainty, Stories, and the Coziness of Hobbit Holes

“Do not be upset if things are not as you would want them to be for a long time to come.”– Louise de Marillac[1]

“I’m going on an adventure!”– Bilbo Baggins[2]

I’ve always been fascinated with stories and the ways we use narrative to experience and structure the world. Growing up, I devoured ancient and modern myths, from the Greeks to the Lord of the Rings, to Star Trek and beyond. The more twists and turns the better. However, in my daily life I’m more of a hobbit than anything else, preferring the certainty of a nice cozy home and a cup of tea to return to. On occasion, I’m even guilty of reading spoilers just to make sure my favorite character makes it to the end.

Life, though, is not always so accommodating; you can’t read ahead, as there is always more to be written. Uncertainty abounds. Ironically, it’s the one reliable truth—we don’t know what’s next and nothing is really certain. While each of our lives is our own story, each tale is influenced by countless other authors (sometimes frustratingly), whether they be humans, impersonal forces of nature, or, for some, providence. By the very act of being, our lives are a collaborative act of storytelling.

As such, our lives don’t always go the way we think, hope, or even dread. You start the day with a flat tire on your morning commute (I’m currently waiting for my tires to be replaced as I write this!). You receive unexpectedly good or bad news from an email or phone call. You lose a loved one or gain an unexpected friend. Your coffee is free because the barista accidentally made the wrong order, but then it tastes terribly burnt.

While we’ve all felt such uncertainties on a small scale, for many there used to be a general sense that the macro of our bigger institutions and social fabric would continue to hold without disruption due to unseen powerful authors plotting history. That somehow, by its sheer scale and the unwritten social norms and rules underpinning it, society’s meta-narrative could absorb risk and uncertainty and plod along towards the future. Yet, the past few years have revealed (if not caused?) a fraying of our lumbering story. Pandemics; the climate crisis with its inhospitable heat, drought, famine, and floods; economic uncertainty; authoritarianism, bigotry, and hate: all act as accelerants in unraveling the “old normal” even as we yearn for the stability of a “new normal.”

With that said, movements like those for racial or climate justice can be positive forces for rewriting the course of our collective adventure. These inclusive drives recognize that every person should have a hand in crafting the tale of human history, especially those that are often left out, marginalized, and treated as nameless extras. Just because the story was unjustly written in the past, doesn’t mean it has to be now. Our namesake, Vincent de Paul, called upon us to treat everyone with sacred dignity, and to realize that there are no extras superfluous to our human narrative. We all matter.

As we live out our Vincentian mission at DePaul, although we too live in uncertainty, we live in a community committed to a common story. Our mission is, at its heart, a tale we tell and retell. We can be different here, we can live not just for ourselves but for others, and we can transform the world through education, compassion, and a recognition of each other’s sacred dignities. Ultimately, we can own our stories, and our mission. As fall and a new academic year full of countless tales begins, the path before us may feel uncertain. Let’s not dread the winding road ahead. Let’s walk it together, for our future is nothing more than the unwritten pages of a collective book. Let’s embrace the adventure.

Reflection Questions:

  • If you could read ahead, would you?
  • Who are some of your favorite “co-authors” in DePaul’s ongoing story?
  • Where would you like DePaul’s story to go next?

Reflection by: Alex Perry, Program Manager, Division of Mission and Ministry

Register here: https://vhw-breakfast-2022.eventbrite.com

[1] L.519, To Sister Anne Hardemont, (1658), Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, 614-615. At: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.edu/ldm/.

[2] The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, directed by Peter Jackson (Warner Bros. Pictures, 2012).

St. Vincent de Paul Heritage Week

Join us this fall as together we embrace the adventure and ownership of our mission during St. Vincent de Paul Heritage Week. Among our many events in the last week of September, we are inviting the entire DePaul community to gather on Friday, September 30th, for the annual Heritage Week Prayer Breakfast. This year, we welcome new DePaul University President Dr. Robert L. Manuel, who will speak about his vision of the Vincentian spirit and its impact on these complex and uncertain times.

Lawful Assembly Podcast Episode 29: Gratitude for those who labor and those who have labored.

This is an interview with Rev. Craig B. Mousin, an Adjunct Faculty member of the DePaul University’s College of Law, Refugee and Forced Migrations Studies Program and the Grace School of Applied Diplomacy. The podcast celebrates all those who worked to defeat the amendments that tried to codify Title 42 in August, 2022.  In addition, as we celebrate Labor Day 2022, we give thanks for all those immigrants who came to our nation, offered their skills and fostered families that have contributed to the common good.

ACTION STEPS

Thank your Senator(s) if they voted to defeat the anti-immigrant amendments to the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.  If your Senator(s) voted for an amendment, redouble your efforts to urge them to convince them to end Title 42.

Urge Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act.  Church World Service provides you with a link to send your email at:  https://cwsglobal.org/action-alerts/take-action-urge-congress-to-swiftly-pass-the-bipartisan-afghan-adjustment-act/

Faith leaders are invited to urge the Biden administration to increase the number of refugees to be resettled in the next fiscal year to 200,000.  Church World Service provides you with a link to send your email: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScphVDWU93gJA5Q6ZLYcYyCbDsFwPYKjCindlkhO2Bz-dgC9Q/viewform

All are urged to encourage Congress to increase refugee resettlement to 200,000.  https://cwsglobal.org/action-alerts/take-action-urge-congress-to-welcome-refugees-rebuild-the-u-s-resettlement-program/

To be most effective please respond prior to Tuesday, September 6.  Thank you.

RESOURCES

Information on the efforts to amend the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 came from Greg Chen’s “Senate Passage of Legislation Without Immigration.”  You can find additional information on the congressional action in his post:  https://thinkimmigration.org/blog/2022/08/08/why-were-celebrating-the-senates-passage-of-legislation-without-immigration/

Find John McCutcheon’s research about the deportees who died in 1948 and his version of Woody Guthrie’s song, “Deportees,” at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxsPL4uEo34 Visit his website at:  https://www.folkmusic.com

Find Emma’s Revolution song, “Bound for Freedom” at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uo9PVE_RxMI  Visit their website at:  https://www.emmasrevolution.com

We welcome your inquiries or suggestions for future podcasts.  If you would like to ask more questions about our podcasts or comment, email us at: mission.depaul@gmail.com

 

Vincentian Heritage Week 2022!

Vincent was a trailblazer, a true change agent of his day. He was a man who saw hope and possibility despite the challenges of his time. He felt a keen dissatisfaction in the gap between the way the world should be and the way the world was. Throughout his 79 years, Vincent sought to close that divide, asking “what must be done” and acting on the answers he found. Four hundred years later, DePaul University continues to carry forward his legacy by educating the next generation of trailblazers. 

During Vincentian Heritage Week the Division of Mission and Ministry will host the key events below.

Sunday Night Mass & BBQ
Sunday, September 25, 6pm | St. Vincent de Paul Parish 

Join Catholic Campus Ministry and St. Vincent de Paul Parish for a (free) BBQ on the Parish Lawn (on Webster Ave.) to celebrate the Feast Day at 6pm after 5pm Mass. 

Whether you go to Mass weekly, occasionally, or have never been to a Catholic Mass, you are welcome here! Come celebrate! 

Feast Day Mass 
Tuesday, September 27, 12:00 pm  | Lincoln Park & Loop Campuses 

For those wishing to attend Mass celebrating St. Vincent de Paul’s Feast Day, Masses will be held in the Loop in the Miraculous Medal Chapel (Lewis Center – First Floor), and in Lincoln Park in the St. Louise de Marillac Chapel (Student Center – First Floor). 

Feast Day Lunch 
Tuesday, September 27, 12:45 pm | Lincoln Park & Loop Campuses 

Celebrate our namesake’s Feast Day with a celebratory lunch at 12:45 pm. Everyone is welcome! 

  • In the Loop, join us in the DePaul Club. RSVP here for the Loop lunch.  

  • For the lunch in Lincoln Park, no need to register, just come to Catholic Campus Ministry (Student Center – Suite 104). 

Loop Mini Vinny Fest 
Tuesday, September 27, 2:00-4:00pm | Loop DePaul Plaza 

Join the Office of Student Involvement and Mission and Ministry for our first ever Loop Mini Vinny Fest! Celebrate our namesake’s Feast Day and DePaul University’s 125th anniversary with fun, games, photos, caricatures and more! 

St. Vincent de Paul Heritage Week Luncheon
Wednesday, September 28 (12 – 1:30 pm) | Loop DePaul Center Concourse  

Join the DePaul community for a special luncheon featuring an engaging conversation with Sister Helen Prejean, ardent advocate for restorative justice and activist against the death penalty. Dr. Robert Manuel, DePaul University’s new President, will present Sr. Helen with the St. Vincent de Paul Award in recognition of her continued life’s work. The award is DePaul’s highest honor, with past winners including Dorothy Day, Monsignor John Egan, and Muhammad Yunus. 

The hybrid luncheon will be hosted on the Concourse Level of the DePaul Center, starting at noon. We hope you can join us! We will also be hosting the conversation via Zoom, for those who cannot join us in person. 

St. Vincent de Paul Prayer Breakfast
Friday, September 30 (9:00 – 10:30 am) | Student Center 120 A & B 

Come celebrate our shared Vincentian heritage with delicious food and great community at our annual St. Vincent de Paul Prayer Breakfast! This year, we will welcome new DePaul University President Dr. Robert L. Manuel, who will share his vision of the Vincentian spirit and its impact in these times of complexity and uncertainty.

It should be a great chance to meet the new President, and start DePaul’s 125th year in community, gathered together for the sake of a mission. All our welcome! 

Vinny Fest 
Friday, September 30 (2pm – 4pm) | Lincoln Park Quad & St. Vincent’s Circle 

Join us for Vinny Fest 2022, a DePaul tradition to honor and celebrate St. Vincent de Paul’s legacy with fun, games, photos with Vincent, free food, and more! Vinny Fest features student organizations, offices, and departments as they host engaging activities to celebrate our mission in action as a DePaul community. Follow @mmatmdepaul to stay up to date.  

Vincent, a new Portrait of a Person in History

Thinking of notable people in history—past or present—as human beings who lived normal daily lives is sometimes difficult. But doing so helps contextualize our perceptions of them and can often make their actions, ideas, and lives all the more exemplary. For example, during grad school when I was reading particularly dense texts from French or German philosophers, I would sometimes muse over the fact that, despite all their abstract thought, they had to eat lunch at some point. Even the most cerebral, abstract thinkers were embodied beings that probably stubbed their toes, had their favorite foods, were late to work, enjoyed friendships, learned about the news, suffered allergies, needed a drink, endured frustrations, and lived life like the rest of us. There’s a beauty in that, which is both humbling and elevating. Even the small things matter in making the mosaic of a person.

Vincent de Paul was no different; he, and we who follow him, recognize our individual embodiment and the dignity of each person’s life (together, these two forms of recognition are known as personalism). While he was highly educated and incredibly intelligent, his passion and mission were not in abstract theology and philosophy. His mission was to be part of the world, attending not just to his fellows’ spiritual needs, but to their practical needs as well. Like the Daughters of Charity, who uplifted the dignity of those experiencing poverty, Vincent was focused on each person’s lived experience. Vincent saw life not as an abstract riddle to be deciphered, but as something to be experienced with joy, sorrow, compassion, and wonder. He saw people not as objects to be analyzed, but as human beings to be encountered with a sacred dignity of their own.

Even knowing all of this, it can still be challenging to think about Vincent, the person, without turning him into a concept or a legendary figure to ponder. It doesn’t help that many of our images of him are quite sanitized, often with him holding three orphans in each hand (even though we’re not entirely sure he ever directly cared for babies). Though stunningly beautiful, old oil paintings and white stone sculptures tend toward idealization as well. So how can we separate the history from the myth? How can we better see Vincent as a human being who ate meals, sweated, and walked the Parisian streets? Brazilian researchers might have an answer.

Since 2015, José Luís Lira and Cícero Costa Moraes’s team of ten researchers, including experts in medicine, dentistry, and technology, have been working on a digital facial reconstruction project to see what Vincent de Paul may have actually looked like. This spring they completed the project, which included extensive skull scans, as well as anthropological and structural analysis. You can find the results of their work below. The digital rendering is startling and can take a while to get used to, especially when compared to other depictions of Vincent. The rendering will not speak to all, and it can be argued that it’s just one more kind of media representation. But I do think that it offers a different way of seeing Vincent, not just as a revered saint but as a human being, and perhaps as he saw himself.

Reflection Questions:

  • Does the digital rendering change your idea of Vincent? In what way?
  • Is it easier to show compassion to the idea of a person, rather than to the reality of one?
  • In our daily professional lives at DePaul, how can we keep Vincent’s mission of recognizing personal dignity and being aware of the whole person alive and thriving?

You can find an English-language article about the reconstruction here: https://famvin.org/en/2022/03/07/reconstruction-of-the-face-of-saint-vincent-de-paul/

The project document in its original Portuguese can be found here:

http://ortogonline.com/doc/pt_br/OrtogOnLineMag/4/VicenteDePaulo.html

Reflection by: Alex Perry, Program Manager, Division of Mission and Ministry

 

Vincentian Heritage Week is Coming!

We are looking forward to celebrating with the entire DePaul community on Friday, September 30, with our annual Vincentian Heritage Prayer Breakfast. This year, we welcome new DePaul University President Dr. Robert L. Manuel, who will speak about his vision of the Vincentian spirit and its impact in these complex, uncertain times.

It should be a great chance to meet the new president and start DePaul’s 125th year in community, gathered together for the sake of a mission. All are welcome!

Register here: https://vhw-breakfast-2022.eventbrite.com

If you’d like to engage more with our Vincentian heritage, please save the date for Vincentian Heritage Week, focused around Vincent’s feast day on September 27. We will be hosting breakfasts, lunches, Vinny Fests (in the Loop and Lincoln Park), and more! More information can be found here.

 

Purposeful Self-Care

We must be full reservoirs in order to let our water spill out without becoming empty, and we must possess the spirit with which we want them to be animated, for [we cannot] give what [we do] not have.[i]

There are times at DePaul when we think working in a “Vincentian” way means remaining tirelessly active, without regard to our own needs or what is actually effective. However, this is decidedly not what Vincent de Paul taught. In addition to the quote above, Vincent wrote to Louise de Marillac circa 1632, “It seems to me that you are killing yourself from the little care you take of yourself.”[ii] Their correspondence often included encouragement in both directions for tending to their mutual health and well-being.

We have learned much over the past couple of years about the importance of self-care and of remaining healthy. The pandemic has forced us to reconsider and reflect on work-life balance norms and habits as well as what it means to work effectively.

There are many ways in which hyper-activity can be harmful to us individually and as a university community. Sound decision-making and the fostering of innovation are far more difficult when we are tired or feeling burned out. We are also much less likely to cultivate the quality relationships that make for a supportive environment and that reflect hospitality and care for others, both of which are so essential to the “Vincentian personalism” we value. We may lose touch with the deeper sense of meaning and purpose that motivates our work. Furthermore, workaholism and the absence of self-care can accentuate an ego-driven pride within us about working longer and harder than everyone around us—and this serves no one in the end. When we are always busy, what we are modeling to others, particularly the students we seek to educate and serve?

In contrast to such a worker-bee mentality, Vincent’s image of the reservoir may serve us well. Sustained and quality work during busy times often requires us to “dig deep,” and therefore it is essential that we maintain healthy reserves to draw from. Our relationships are vital sources of energy and support when we face vexing problems, and therefore cultivating friendships and collegial networks is a life habit that makes our work more effective and sustainable. We might also imagine the life-giving reservoir replenished by remaining connected to a shared sense of mission or purpose through regular moments of reflection.

As we come to the end of the summer months, the intensity of our work and task lists are no doubt beginning to build up again as we approach the new academic year. Might we transition into the fall with a plan to integrate self-care, relationships, and ongoing reflection? Perhaps we might even work together with others to shape our collective organizational culture in a way that models these things, thus benefitting all in our community, including the students we serve.

One thing will remain certain: any mission worth working toward is not a solo act. We will achieve it only by regularly renewing ourselves through rest, reflection, and friendship—and with some intentionality these things can certainly extend well beyond the summer weeks!

  • What is a regular habit of rest or reflection that can enrich your ability to be creative and to remain energized in the workplace?
  • How might you integrate the cultivation of relationships more intentionally in and through your work?
  • What might you do—even for a few minutes a day—to remain rooted in and nourished by a deeper sense of the mission and purpose that sustains your work?

Reflection by:                    Mark Laboe, Assoc. VP, Mission and Ministry

[i] Letter 1623, “To a Seminary Director,” n.d., CCD, 4:570. Available online at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/29/.

[ii] Letter 95, “To Saint Louise,” n.d. [c.1632], CCD, 1:145. Available online at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/25/.

Building your resume or building your legacy?

A number of years ago, the political and cultural commentator David Brooks penned a thought-provoking article juxtaposing resume virtues with eulogy virtues.[1] While resume virtues are skills that you bring to the marketplace, eulogy virtues run deeper and define one’s depth of character. Eulogy virtues are the characteristics that we recall at a person’s funeral when we seek to describe the quality of their life.

According to Brooks, although most of us would probably agree that eulogy virtues are the most important, our culture and educational systems tend to put more effort into teaching skills for professional success. As a result, many of us neglect to cultivate the skills necessary to deepen our interior lives. We don’t until life confronts us with situations that require us to wrestle more profoundly with questions of meaning and purpose.

Saint Vincent de Paul’s trajectory seems to mirror the developmental shifts that Brooks lays out. Indeed, much of Vincent’s early experience reveals the ambitions of a young cleric who, motivated by “chances for advancement” and thoughts of “an honorable retirement,”[2] focused on furthering his ecclesial career and “building his resume.” While spiritual and ecclesial formation were certainly an integral part of his theological training, Vincent’s initial priestly motivation stemmed primarily from his desire to escape the financially uncertain life of a peasant farmer. As a result, Vincent, “the eager and ambitious cleric,” sought upward mobility by climbing the ecclesial ladder.[3]

Yet Vincent’s dreams of social advancement did not remain the driving force of his ministry for long. Amid the twists and turns of his vocation, a series of pivotal moments would challenge Vincent’s aspirations and invite him to think beyond himself and consider those in front of him who were living in deprivation. Prompted by such encounters as his visit to a dying peasant in 1617,[4] Vincent began to focus his ministry primarily on the needs and spiritual well-being of those who were poor and abandoned, whose dignity was not often recognized in seventeenth-century French society. He became immensely dissatisfied with the way the world appeared around him.[5] Yet, rather than accept the status quo, he channeled his frustration into a quest to build the world that he wanted to see.[6]

In tangible terms, these spiritual invitations led Vincent to abandon his desire for his own career advancement in favor of seeking a more just and equitable world. Consequently, he spent the rest of his life not merely asking, What must be done?[7] but using his actions as a pathway to live his way to the answer.

As Brooks notes, “some people have experiences that turn their careers into a calling.” While Vincent’s motivation to do good stemmed from his desire to build the Kingdom of God, his trajectory as an ambitious young clergyman might never have changed direction were it not for his ability to listen deeply and respond to what God asked of him. Vincent quite simply longed to serve God faithfully. The cries of those on the margins transformed his heart and motivated him to use “the strength of [his] arms and the sweat of [his brow]”[8]

Reflection Questions:

“We all go into professions for many reasons: money, status, security. But some people have experiences that turn a career into a calling.”[9]

Have there been moments in your career at DePaul when you have experienced your work as a calling? What was it about these moments that transformed your work?

What do you feel called to build in your life right now?

 

Reflection by:           

Siobhan O’Donoghue, Director of Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission and Ministry


[1] David Brooks, “The Moral Bucket List,” New York Times, April 12, 2015, Sunday Opinion, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/opinion/sunday/david-brooks-the-moral-bucket-list.html.

[2] Letter 0003, “Vincent de Paul To His Mother, in Pouy,” 17 February 1610, CCD, 1:15  Available on line at: https://digicol.lib.depaul.edu/digital/collection/depaul01/id/84/rec/1

[3] Douglas Slawson, C.M., “Vincent de Paul’s Discernment of His Own Vocation And That of the Congregation of the Mission,” Vincentian Heritage Journal 10:1 (1989): 6. Available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol10/iss1/1.

[4] Luigi Mezzadri, C.M., and José María Román, C.M., The Vincentians: A General History of the Congregation of the Mission, trans. Robert Cummings (New York: New City Press, 2009), 1:10. Quoted in Scott Kelley, “Vincentian Pragmatism: Toward a Method for Systemic Change,” Vincentian Heritage Journal (2012): 31:2. Available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol31/iss2/2.

[5] Edward Udovic, C.M., Ph.D. “St. Vincent de Paul, A Person of the 17th Century, a Person for the 21st Century,” Office of Mission and Ministry DePaul University, YouTube video, January 16, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrwez_neJT4.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Edward R. Udovic, C.M., Ph.D., “’Our good will and honest efforts.’ Vincentian Perspectives on Poverty Reduction Efforts,” Vincentian Heritage Journal (2008): 28:2, 72. Available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol28/iss2/5.

[8] Conference 25, “Love of God,” n.d., CCD, 11:32. Available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/37/.

[9] Brooks, “Moral Bucket List.”