Effective Charity

hands holding hands

The Catholic tradition names Saint Vincent de Paul the patron saint of charity. While today the term “charity” is sometimes caricatured as a Band-Aid approach to addressing social problems, the effective charity demonstrated by Vincent and Louise in seventeenth-century France, and the effective charity of the Vincentian family today, calls for a radically different understanding.

The word “charity” derives from the Latin term, caritas, which denotes a generous and self-giving love.[1] During their lifetimes, both Vincent and Louise “vigorously called upon charity as an indispensable source of power to confront the poverty and injustice of their day.”[2] Indeed, charity provided a way of resisting the dictates of the state, which, as a result of the “War of Great Confinement,” criminalized those who were poor and forbade begging as well as almsgiving.[3] Yet, through their ministry, Vincent and Louise refused to discount the dignity of those who were poor. Instead, they demonstrated an effective charity that went far beyond mere philanthropic efforts to alleviate need. They focused on developing meaningful relationships with those to whom they ministered, whom much of society had shunned. Such connections allowed them to “build a parallel and contradictory world of charity”[4] that acknowledged right relationship and was shaped by the power of the human encounter.

To this day, this kind of effective charity continues to inspire Vincentian social institutions, which focus not only on addressing the immediate needs of those who are disenfranchised, but root themselves in accompaniment and the construction of meaningful transformative relationships. Such institutions equally commit themselves to calling society to justice and working for systemic change.

Frédéric Ozanam, one of the principal founders of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, described the complementary nature of charity and justice in the following way: “The order of society is based on two virtues: justice and charity. However, justice presupposes a lot of love already, for he needs to love a man a great deal in order to respect his rights, which limit our rights, and his liberty, which hampers our liberty. Justice has its limits whereas charity knows none.”[5]

So from a Vincentian perspective, rather than charity being dismissed as a lesser form of justice, effective charity should be understood as a complement to justice in effectuating social change.[6] From a Vincentian perspective, effective charity must lead to effective justice.

In what ways do you see evidence of the Vincentian traditions of effective charity and justice in your work at DePaul? How does this description of effective charity challenge your own understanding of charity?

Reflection by: Siobhan O’Donoghue, Ph.D., Faculty and Staff Engagement Director, Mission and Ministry

[1] Mark Laboe, “Connecting Charity with Justice,” The Way of Wisdom (blog), 24 August 2020, https://blogs.depaul.edu/dmm/2020/08/24/connecting-charity-with-justice/.

[2] Craig B. Mousin, “Vincentian Leadership—Advocating for Justice,” Vincentian Heritage 26:1 (2005): 263, https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol26/iss1/14.

[3] Edward R. Udovic, C.M., “Caritas Christi Urget Nos: The Urgent Challenges of Charity in Seventeenth-Century France,” Ibid. 12:2 (1991): 86, https://via.‌library.‌depaul.edu‌/vhj/‌vol12/iss2/1/.

[4] Ibid., 102.

[5] Pierre Pierrand et al., Ozanam, Husband and Father, Champion of Truth and Justice, Lover of the Poor, Founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (Albagraf, Pomeezia Italy: 1997), 35.

[6] Mousin, “Vincentian Leadership—Advocating for Justice,” 263.

 

Ted Lasso, the Mission, and relying on stories to share the load.

In the depths of the pandemic last year, my family, friends, and even work colleagues began sharing recommendations for which show to binge watch next. I’m sure we weren’t alone. This probably started because retelling stories of our daily lives was bleak and became an exercise in recycled trauma, whatever our vocation. We weren’t seeing each other, scattered as we were across the country and world, or even next door, so TV shows became our lingua franca and way of being with one another.

Some of the shows were old standbys that had long since aired, so the spark of rediscovery and most importantly—knowing what came next—helped ease the overwhelming anxiety that permeated every other aspect of our lives. Even if we had seen the episode or heard the jokes before, there was something reassuring about that familiarity. Other shows were new (to us) and exploring their undiscovered countries felt like a joint expedition. Whether the series was just released, like The Flight Attendant or Loki, or was just finishing, like Schitt’s Creek or Killing Eve, we foraged streaming services looking for the next story to share.

With hindsight, a particular kind of humor ran through most of the series we collectively watched—a humor that borrowed a “dash of vinegar” [1] with its gentleness, a comic sense that didn’t flinch from the sadness and tragedy of the world, but that found a way to acknowledge sorrow and still laugh, and in so doing provide relief from its weight. Everything in our lives pushed us towards loneliness and individual sorrow, but through sharing these stories, we found ways to collectively persevere through humor. It made all the difference.

I’ll end with a quote from one of our favorite new shows, Ted Lasso, about an (American) football coach from Kansas who gets hired to lead a premier league (European) football team in England. On the surface, the series seems to be a celebration of joy and positivity (the eponymous Ted is unrelentingly optimistic, after all). Underneath, however, it is a show not about happiness alone, but how to cope with grief, together.

In a memorable scene (no spoilers), from the wonderfully titled episode The Hope That Kills You, Ted professes: “I promise you there is something worse out there than being sad, and that’s being alone and being sad. Ain’t no one in this room alone.” [2]

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

When things seem bleak and most sobering—what are ways that we can authentically find and share joy with one another? How can we find ways to make each other laugh, even while acknowledging the pain all around us? When pursuing our collective Vincentian mission, how do we make sure that we are taking care of each other along the way, so that our “immortified moods” [3] do not overtake both ourselves and our community?


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

  1. [I]f the gentleness of your spirit needs a dash of vinegar, borrow a little from Our Lord’s spirit. O Mademoiselle, how well He knew how to find a bittersweet remark when it is needed!
    Vincent de Paul (Volume: 1 | Page#: 383) To Saint Louise, 1 November, 1637
  2. “I promise you there is something worse out there than being sad, and that’s being alone and being sad. Ain’t no one in this room alone.”
    Ted Lasso, “The Hope that Kills You” Season 1, Episode 10, airdate October 2020
  3. We must hold as an irrefutable maxim that the difficulties we have with our neighbor arise more from our immortified moods than from anything else.”
    Vincent de Paul (Volume: 1 | Page#: 597) To Nicolas Durot, in Toulouse, December 1639

Episode 19: Expedite at What Cost?

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 requests listeners to file comments opposing DHS and DOJ proposed regulations governing Credible Fear Screening by Asylum Officers.

ACTION STEP: You can file comments opposing part of or all of the proposed regulations before 11:59 p.m. EDT, Tuesday October 19.  CLINIC, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., has provided a sample template that provides instructions and helpful arguments to prepare and then submit your comments.  https://uchastings.app.box.com/s/qxj0pz0e7ehn8a1yontxz7gwvddad3ng

If you are unable to meet this Tuesday’s deadline, please consider corresponding with the White House and your Senators and Representative to oppose these proposed regulations.  The template offers sample language you might find helpful in communicating with elected representatives.

These proposed regulations, in the alleged name of effectiveness, efficiency, and streamlining, may preclude many deserving asylum seekers from obtaining a full and fair hearing before an Immigration Judge, and therefore, be denied asylum and other remedies.  DHS and DOJ have invited members of the public to comment on the proposals.  The template above offers a relatively simple way to respond.  The template provides significant information and resources on the failings of the proposed regulations.  You can submit your comments and also view the proposed regulations and explanation at:  https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/08/20/2021-17779/procedures-for-credible-fear-screening-and-consideration-of-asylum-withholding-of-removal-and-cat#open-comment

You may find more information on the proposed regulations in a summary by the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at:   https://uchastings.app.box.com/s/651zlybechnqq4ktk5rllihkybih9mx0

Jeffrey Chase’s quote comes from his blog, “The Need for Full-Fledged Asylum Hearings,” October 6, 2021 at: https://www.jeffreyschase.com/blog/2021/10/6/the-need-for-full-fledged-asylum-hearings

The $15 million-dollar contract with the GEO Group is cited in Rafael Bernal, “US Faces Daunting Task in Relationship with Haiti,” October 10, 2021 at:

https://thehill.com/latino/576036-us-faces-daunting-task-in-relationship-with-haiti

More information on how private for-profit detention corporations undermine our nation’s commitment to access to attorneys, due process, and commitments made to asylum seekers can be found at:    Statement of the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security Hearing Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation & Operations Oversight of ICE Detention Facilities: Examining ICE Contractors’ Response to COVID-19 July 13, 2020, https://immigrantjustice.org/sites/default/files/content-type/commentary-item/documents/2020-07/NIJCStatement_HouseHomelandSecurityCommitteeHearing_2020-07-13.pdf

More information on tent courts and the difficulty attorneys face in meeting with clients to prepare cases can be found at, Mousin, Craig B., Health Inequity and Tent Court Injustice (February 1, 2021). AMA J Ethics. 2021;23(2):E132-139, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3777549

 

Sharing Our Trials as Well as Our Joys

“I received your letter yesterday; as always, it gave me fresh reasons for praising God. Still, it troubled me a little because, from what you tell me in your last letter, it seems to me you are suffering from something, although you did not state this clearly. Please share with me, Monsieur, your trials as well as your joys.”[1]

Moses (Peace be upon Him) is one of the most important figures in all three Abrahamic traditions,[2] and historically in American culture.[3] The Qur’an devotes more time to the life of Moses[4] than to any other person. In the Qur’anic telling, when Moses flees Egypt and the Pharaoh he arrives in Midian in a desperate situation. He hasn’t had anything to eat other than leaves, is physically drained and exhausted, and he remains deeply fearful that there are powerful forces seeking to capture and punish him. He is separated from all that was once dear and familiar. Moses comes across a large group of men watering their animals at a well, but his attention is drawn to two women who are said to be holding back theirs. Moses approaches them and asks “what is the matter?”[5] After they explain that their father is old and can’t come to the well, and that the men will not let them water their animals, Moses assists them and waters their animals himself. Moses then leaves to rest and pray to God, but this is the beginning of an unexpected blessing that will radically shift the course of his future.

Many of us have experienced, especially in times of loss, anxiety, or other suffering, the blessing of having someone listen to our story or to our feelings. In some cases they may be able to assist us in material ways. At other times, perhaps they can only accompany us in our grief or hardship. Either way, it often feels that sharing our burdens lessens them. This is what profoundly struck me in the excerpt above: “Please share with me Monsieur, your trials as well as your joys.” As Marilynne Robinson says in Gilead, “There’s a lot under the surface of life, everyone knows that.”[6] When we are able through words or actions, let those close to us know that they can share with us what is normally kept under the surface, their trials as well as their joys. This can be a powerful step towards creating real community. We strive to make DePaul more than just a workplace. We strive to create a community joined together for the sake of mission. Let us ask ourselves how we can be open to those around us, whether it be students we serve, those we supervise, or the fellow employees we encounter and work alongside.

There are many ways people respond to the brokenness of our world. One of the most memorable characters in literature is found in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. Mrs. Jellyby fills her every moment with “work” towards an idealistic project in Africa, which she thinks will do enormous social good. Yet this project never comes to fruition. All the while she is ignoring the sufferings of those close to her, including her husband and her own children. In truly listening to the trials and joys of others, that which is under the surface, we begin to discern how we can best respond to those challenges that are within our sphere of influence. We see changes that can be made and realities that can be faced together.

For Reflection: Is there someone in your life with whom you can truly share your trials as well as your joys? Are there people for whom you provide that deep listening? What are some of the reasons we may be reluctant to share with others, or open ourselves to others sharing with us? How can we overcome these barriers to deeper community?

Reflection by: Abdul-Malik Ryan, Muslim Chaplain and Assistant Director of Religious Diversity and Pastoral Care, Division of Mission and Ministry

See also our past Mission Monday reflection “Being Fully Present” by Emily Lahood-Olsen, based on a quotation from Saint Louise de Marillac: https://blogs.depaul.edu/dmm/2019/10/21/being-fully-present/

We remind all of you that one of the ways you are invited to share with the DePaul community, whether sharing news of weddings, births, adoptions, or bereavements in your immediate family, is through the Newsline Family Events column: https://resources.depaul.edu/newsline/contact/Pages/life-events.aspx

You are also invited to share any requests for prayer with the Division of Mission and Ministry at: https://offices.depaul.edu/mission-ministry/religious-spiritual-life/Pages/Prayer-Requests.aspx


[1] Letter 1823, To Charles Ozenne, Superior, In Warsaw, 1 January 1655, CCD, 5:255.

[2] Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. As I remarked in a recent interfaith dialogue event about Moses, perhaps they could just as accurately (if not more so) be referred to as the three Mosaic faiths or traditions.

[3] Moses serves as one of the most popular superhero archetypes in popular culture and historically has been a touchstone for all Americans regardless of their political beliefs.

[4] In Arabic, Musa.

[5] Qur’an 28:22-24.

[6] Marilynne Robinson, Gilead (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004), p. 6.

DePaul… let’s be courageous!

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.”[1] 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.”[2]

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

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?


[1] Conference 205, Indifference (Common Rules, Chap. II, Art. 10), 16 May 1659, CCD, 12:197.

[2] Conference 135, Repetition of Prayer, 22 August 1655. Ibid., 11:265.

 

Written by: Tom Judge, Division of Mission and Ministry

Lawful Assembly Episode 18: Fear of Freedom


This is an interview with Rev. Craig B. Mousin, an Adjunct Faculty member of the DePaul University College of Law and the Grace School of Applied Diplomacy.  The podcast contends that United States discrimination against Haitians over the last two centuries has created a moral obligation to Haiti and its residents.  Most recently, efforts to swiftly deport Haitians, contrary to the Refugee Act’s non-return requirement, reveals how efforts to restrict Haitian asylum-seekers over the last forty years has contributed to the continual denigration of asylum protections under the Refuge Act of 1980.

ACTION STEP:  The United Church of Christ offers you a way to promptly inform your representatives that deportations to Haiti must cease at:  https://p2a.co/MnT2c4m

A petition to stop Haitian deportations:

https://actionnetwork.org/forms/sign-the-petition-demand-that-the-biden-administration-halt-all-deportations-to-haiti?source=2021EndDeportationstoHaiti_NIJC&referrer=group-national-immigrant-justice-center&eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=daa3e06b-7fb9-41d5-90db-1f488e4d0344&sl_tc=button

For additional information on the history of United States responses to Haiti and Haitian asylum seekers, Azadeh Erfani of  the National Immigrant Justice Center’s writes:  “President Biden, It is Past Time to Protect Haitian Asylum Seekers, at:  https://immigrantjustice.org/staff/blog/president-biden-it-past-time-protect-haitian-asylum-seekers

An American Immigration Council report on Haiti can be found at: Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, “Del Rio Migrant Camp Shows How Biden Administration Is Not Living Up to Its Promises” at:

https://immigrationimpact.com/2021/09/21/haitian-migrant-camp-biden-promises/#.YVSS8S1h1fE

See also, Raymond Joseph, former envoy of Haiti to Washington, “Haiti Cries Out: Where is President Biden, as My Countrymen Swelter Under a Bridge in Texas,” https://www.nysun.com/foreign/haiti-cries-out-where-is-president-biden-as-my/91660/

Former Justice Harry A. Blackmun’s quote from his dissent is at page 208 in Sale v. Haitian Centers Council, 509 U.S. 155, (1993).  His other quotes in the podcast are from his law review article, “The Supreme Court and the Law of Nations,” 104 Yale L.J. 39, 44 (1994). (https://www.jstor.org/stable/796983).

Professor Peniel Joseph’s quote can be found at: “This Is the Story of Haiti That Matters Most,” (August 20, 2021) at: https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/20/opinions/haiti-earthquake-flooding-assassination-revolution-joseph/index.html

Professor Annette Gordon-Reed’s quote can be found at:  “We Owe Haiti A Debt We Can’t Repay,” (July 21, 2021) at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/21/opinion/haiti-us-history.html

Saint Vincent de Paul: From Memory to Commitment

Vincent de Paul’s spirituality is not a spirituality of the academy but of life. Johann Baptist Metz, a German theologian, was the first one to talk about “the spirituality of open eyes.” According to him, “the experience of God biblically inspired is not a perception uniquely related to oneself but rather a perception vividly intensified by the pain and suffering of others.”[1] This is the spirituality of Saint Vincent de Paul whose memory we are celebrating today. Vincent was a man of faith whose eyes were wide open.

Looking was what saved him. When Vincent decided to open his eyes, his humanity and the purpose of his life were redefined. This progressive conversion of our founder gradually defined his spiritual maturity. “The poor, who do not know where to go or what to do, who are suffering already and who increase daily, are my burden and my sorrow.”[2] His many experiences with the poor shook him with great force, opened his eyes, and molded his spirituality. They led him to read history as a mediation of God continually revealing His will to us.

A prominent turn in contemporary theology has involved the call for a renewed relationship between Christian spirituality, sociopolitical factors, and environmental concerns. At DePaul University we feel that this is a challenge we cannot avoid. Our understanding of Catholic and Vincentian traditions must be informed by opening our eyes to the societal challenges made plain in our university Mission Statement. Catholic Higher Education is being invited from the heart of the Catholic Church to become an effective tool for social transformation, social mobility, sustainability, nonviolence, racial equity, and justice.[3]

“Since its founding in 1898, DePaul University has remained dedicated to making education accessible to all, with special attention to including underserved and underrepresented communities.”[4] Our continuous commitment is grounded in our understanding of the Vincentian Spirit, and on facing the challenges and opportunities of our contemporary world. Education is a human right currently denied to most members of our human family. It is a fundamental resource necessary for individuals and communities to thrive. Access to education and equity is an ongoing struggle, recently made evident by our concerns, our fears, and our prayers for the women of Afghanistan.

Today, I invite the DePaul community to celebrate Saint Vincent de Paul by continuing our move from memory to commitment. To embrace a spirituality of open eyes, as Vincent did, we need to dare to see, to hear, and to boldly interpret the signs of the times. This must be done personally, communally, and socially. In listening to the cries of our earth itself and the cries from across our planet of all those suffering exclusion and discrimination, we should understand that God is calling us.

HAPPY FEAST DAY DEAR DEPAUL COMMUNITY!

———

Reflection by: Fr. Guillermo Campuzano, C.M., Vice President of Mission and Ministry

Please join DePaul colleagues for the Annual Vincentian Feast Day Mass and Lunch at both campuses today, Monday September 27th at 12 Noon, in the Miraculous Medal Chapel (Loop – 1st floor Lewis building) and the St. Louise de Marillac Chapel (LPC 1st floor Student Center). Lunch to follow masses at both campuses. All are welcome!


[1] Matthew T. Eggemeier, “A Mysticism of Open Eyes: Compassion for a Suffering World and the Askesis of Contemplative Prayer,” Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality 12:1 (2012): 43-62. See: researchgate.net.

[2] Letter 1143, To Rene Almeras, Superior, In Rome, 8 October 1649, CCD, 3:492.

[3] Francis, Global Compact on Education, 15 October 2020. See: vatican.va.

[4] DePaul University Mission Statement, March 2021. See: mission statement.

The Enduring Spirit of DePaul’s Mission

“Let’s take renewed resolutions to acquire this spirit, which is our spirit; for the spirit of the mission is a spirit of simplicity, humility, gentleness, mortification, and zeal. Do we have it or don’t we?”[1]

In 1659, Vincent invited his community to reflect upon the distinguishing characteristics, core values, and commitments of the Vincentian mission and to recommit to the essence of its spirit. Vincent understood the importance of reflecting on our actions to inform our understanding of the present, as well as to better craft the evolving future.

The seeds of DePaul’s mission were planted in seventeenth-century France and our heritage begins there. Yet, to paraphrase Vincent, even in these early days he challenged his community to discern “do we have the Vincentian Spirit or don’t we?”

Today, centuries later, each of us is invited to reflect upon similar questions. In what ways is the Vincentian Spirit manifest in our work and community? Where is it lacking? How are we interpreting the spirit of the mission for the reality of DePaul University’s present and the reality of its tomorrow?

In 2020-2021, for the first time in 35 years, DePaul engaged 600 community members in a ten-month-long participatory process to reflect upon who we are and whom we dream of becoming. Our updated mission statement is the result of this inclusive and communal process. Drawing on the same spirit as Vincent, it expresses the university’s current reality, reflects our shared values, and articulates our evolving hopes and common dreams.

Over the next seven days, we invite you to participate in the annual St. Vincent de Paul Heritage Week. In attending one or more of an array of mission-focused events, you will have the opportunity to celebrate our Vincentian Heritage, reflect upon the mission in today’s context, and examine its dynamic, unfolding meaning at both a personal and professional level.

We look forward to welcoming you and celebrating at one or more of these events. Registration information for the week can be found here.


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

[1] Conference 211, The Five Characteristic Virtues (Common Rules, Chap. II, Art. 14), 22 August 1659, CCD, 12:251.

Can We Choose Enthusiasm?

I recently realized that I need to move past my habitual cynicism if I am to contribute to positive and creative solutions in overcoming challenges—in my personal life, in my work life, and as a citizen of our city and world. I am learning that in a society in which emotions increasingly seem to drive behavior, exercising thoughtful agency and intentionality in how we live and respond, regardless of how we feel, can be a great spiritual challenge.

For example, can we choose to be enthusiastic and do so authentically, even when our emotions or life circumstances might weigh us down? And, if so, will it even make a positive difference? To a certain extent the answer is yes, in that our emotional state can often change simply with a shift in perspective. Life habits, like exercise, meditation, or friendship, can also do much to cultivate enthusiasm and gratitude for what is present and possible before us. Our communities also play a vital role in helping us to cultivate and sustain an enthusiastic hope and vision. Moreover, rather than cynicism, in terms of its generative impact enthusiasm certainly tends to be more inspiring and effective in persuading others toward positive action.

Dictionaries suggest enthusiasm involves enjoyment, interest, and an energy or zest for life. Our current day understanding of enthusiasm shares something in common with what Vincent de Paul, in his day, named “zeal.” Vincent said, “if love is a sun, zeal is its ray.”[1] He seemed to see zeal as closely tied to courage and to an abiding trust in Providence, but also as something that one could acquire through lived experience and grace. Vincent once described zeal as the “soul of virtues.”[2] Zeal, for Vincent, was more than mere sentiment; it seemed to involve channeling our own conscious will and giving ourselves over to a purpose beyond ourselves. For him, this larger purpose was what he called “the spirit of the Mission.”[3]

How might we remain enthusiastic or cultivate the virtue of zeal in the face of today’s challenges, both personal and societal? As we witness the most recent destruction in Haiti, the horrific situation in Afghanistan, the pernicious gun violence in our city, the continued havoc caused by the pandemic and natural disasters like hurricanes, or the intractable systemic problems of racism, poverty, and war… and on and on… pain, sadness, and anger are perfectly understandable feelings to be experiencing. How do we get from there to enthusiasm or zeal, and why even bother?

One important reason to move towards enthusiasm is because change, whether at the personal, interpersonal, institutional, or societal level, requires it. If we are to move through and past painful emotions and work towards that which can transform, uplift, and create a new reality, we need the energy and vitality of enthusiasm. We need a certain hope and zest for life and for all that is still possible. At DePaul, as a Vincentian university, we must find a way to inspire one another to embody this “zeal.” It is our mission to prepare our graduates to become “agents of transformation throughout their lives” and to address “the great questions of our day, promoting peaceful, just, and equitable solutions to social and environmental challenges.”[4] We should consider enthusiasm, or zeal, an essential Vincentian virtue for our times.

  • What are the habits that help you to cultivate enthusiasm or a zeal for life?
  • How might you help to foster an enthusiasm for the “spirit of the Mission” in your own area of work, or in your circles of influence at DePaul

Reflection by: Mark Laboe, Associate Vice President, Division of Mission and Ministry

[1] Conference 211, The Five Characteristic Virtues (Common Rules, Chap. II, Art. 14), 22 August 1659, CCD, 12:250. See: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/36/

[2] Letter 460, To Pierre Escart, in Annecy, 25 July 1640, Ibid., 2:84. See: https://‌via.library.‌depaul.edu/‌vincentian_‌ebooks/27/

[3] Conference 211, Op. Cit., 12:251.

[4] See: DePaul University Mission Statement

Vincent de Paul Heritage Week 2021

What Must Be Done to Confront Global Homelessness?
Wednesday, September 22 (11:30 am – 12:45 pm)
Student Center 120 A & B

Launching St. Vincent de Paul Heritage Week, faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend a special luncheon on September 22 discussing the questions: “What must be done to confront global homelessness?” How can we better see the problem and advocate for justice? What concrete steps can we take today as we seek a world where everyone has a stake in their community and a place to call home?

Following opening remarks by Fr. Memo Campuzano, C.M., the panel will feature leading experts from two Vincentian organizations at the forefront of the movement to engage with these questions—FamVin Homeless Alliance and Ruff Institute of Global Homelessness.

  • Mark McGreevy OBE, Group CEO Depaul International and Founder – Institute of Global Homelessness at DePaul University
  • Lydia Stazen, Director, Ruff Institute of Global Homelessness
  • Yasmine Cajuste, Project Development Manager for FamVin Homeless Alliance

A vibrant Q&A will follow the panel. We hope you can join us for this discussion in honor of St. Vincent’s Feast Day as part of the St. Vincent de Paul Heritage Week!

Please register here.

St. Vincent de Paul Prayer Breakfast
Vincent: A Man of Possibility and Hope

Friday, September 24 (8:30 – 10:00 am)
Student Center 120 A & B

The St. Vincent de Paul Prayer Breakfast invites DePaul colleagues, students and friends to pause and reflect on St. Vincent, the namesake of our university and his rich legacy as it is lived out today.

During his lifetime, St. Vincent endured great hardship, and found ways of not only enduring but also overcoming challenges by finding hope and embracing possibility. Even when things seemed insurmountable, he found the strength to move forward. How? What can we learn from his legacy? Is it possible to find moments of goodness, joy, and even gratitude in difficult times?

Come join us for breakfast with keynote speaker Darryl Arrington, Assistant Vice President of DePaul’s Center for Access and Attainment, who will help us explore such questions.

Breakfast will begin at 8:30 am, with the keynote to follow. We hope you can join us!

Register here

Vinny Fest
Friday, September 24 (2pm – 4pm)
Lincoln Park Quad & St. Vincent’s Circle

Students, join us for Vinny Fest 2021, 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 on our socials to stay up to date.

DeHub Link: https://cglink.me/2cC/r14404 | DeHub Partner Registration Link: https://cglink.me/2cC/s1110

Sunday Night Mass & BBQ
Sunday, September 26, 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, followed by a festive Sunday Night Mass at 8pm.

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

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/902946456973517

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

For those wishing to attend Mass celebrating St. Vincent de Paul’s Feast Day, services will be held in the Loop on the 11th floor gallery, and in Lincoln Park in the St. Louise de Marillac chapel.

Feast Day Lunch
Monday, 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 on the 11th floor terrace in the DePaul Center. RSVP here for the Loop lunch.
–For the lunch in Lincoln Park, no need to register, just come to Catholic Campus Ministry.