Who do you Know?

By Katie Hoffman


Who do you know?


It is interesting to sit back and think about all of the people we know… do you ever think about your backgrounds and how that has perhaps defined some of the interactions you’ve had with that person? It’s intriguing to ponder how cultures can change and even enhance some of our relationships and allow us to be more altruistic.


For me, I think about my living situations through my time at DePaul; each year sharing a home with someone of another faith tradition. My freshman year I lived alone and then with a friend of mine who happens to be Muslim and through our conversations it was easy to note how similar she and I are. My sophomore year, I shared an apartment with a very good friend of mine who is a non-practicing Lutheran and hence, religion and culture affected by religion were not large parts of our relationship but we were still able to share values. Junior year I was lucky enough to live in the Vincent and Louise House–this perhaps was the most rewarding and challenging living situation, especially being the only Jew in a house with seven Catholics, a baptist and a non-denominational Christian.  It was a home in which ideals were always challenged; but with love and the hopes of understanding.


Now, as a senior I share an apartment with another Jewish girl and a good friend of mine. One would think it would be a lot easier when considering culture, however it is quite the contrary. However, through our discussions it has allowed my eyes to be opened to truly how different one person may believe and practice their faith tradition and allowed this to be compared to my own experiences; this has made all the difference and has allowed me to appreciate Judaism so much more and it’s multifaceted approaches. This understanding I have begun to apply to learning about others and their cultures and I invite you to try to do the same.

Religion and Politics: What Do I Believe?

By: Olivia Hollman

Alright, Olivia. What are you doing here? Don’t you know that those are the two things you should avoid talking about? For 21 years you’ve avoided talking too passionately about or taking too much of a stand. Why change that now? Because it’s been 21 years and I need to stand up for something; I can’t keep on “going with the flow”, acting like a coward. So here we go.

My life started in the red state of Arkansas and I have been raised in a conservative, Catholic family. In 2005, my family moved to the blue state of Illinois, but anyone who knows the political climate of the state knows that it’s only blue because of Chicago. A rural city in southern Illinois definitely falls within the red realm of the state. Having no interest in politics and developing my own opinions, I went along with my family’s conservative views. Liberalism and the Democratic party had it wrong and that was all I needed to know.

The stage is now set for my transition to college at the largest Catholic university in the nation in a very diverse, liberal, Democratic city.

I found myself no longer living in a mostly white, Christian, heteronormative, conservative small town. I began to encounter races, cultures, faiths, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, and values different than my own. In the beginning, I thought “Wow. Look at how my worldview has broadened because I’ve seen people different than me.” And that is where the “experience” ended.

As I began to see my friends and people close to me taking stances on issues, I started asking myself what I believed and what I stood for. This has been something I’ve shaped over the past 3 years (and will continue to shape) due to my friends’ views, faiths, expressions of Catholicism, conversations around events on campus, and my Vincentian education.

So what do I believe? What do I stand for?

I believe:

in one God.

nutrient-rich food and clean drinking water are basic human rights.

society needs to stop sexualizing women.

that just because you’re white, doesn’t mean you’re right.

it is not enough just to do something, it must be done well.

love is for everyone and heteronormative and non-heteronormative commitments to love should be universally accepted.

a country founded on the principle of religious freedom that calls itself a “melting pot” cannot choose which religions to grant freedom or which races to accept.

everyone should have access to shelter, especially from inclement weather and harsh climates.

one doesn’t need to follow Jesus “to be saved”.

I am not persecuted or discriminated against because I am Christian.

the death penalty, abortion, and euthanasia are fundamentally wrong because human life is sacred.

I have privilege because I am white and the “accepted racial majority”.

Vincentian simplicity (transparency) is important in relationships—work, friends, significant others, etc.

gender is not a “male or female”, black and white identity.

as human beings, we have a responsibility to address the needs of our fellow humans.

Jesus’ resurrected, spiritual body and blood are actually present in the Eucharist.

all lives matter, but not all lives are respected, honored, and valued, which is why movements like Black Lives Matter is necessary and crucial.

I must use my privilege to fight for and stand up for those who do not have the benefit of privilege.

sexual assault and rape are not the fault of the victim.

everyone should have access to higher education, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or financial status.

free speech does not encompass hate speech; if it disrespects the life of someone else, you should not have the right to say it.

people don’t “choose” their gender to “act out”, but choose to live out their authentic gender expression.

the Catholic Church is not universally “female or noncisgender friendly”.

everyone should have access to affordable healthcare.

everything can be prayer.

sexual orientation is not just classified by “heterosexual” and there is no “wrong” orientation.

These are absolute truths for me; I firmly believe there are no universal absolute truths. This is also not a complete, static list. It’s going to be changed and edited as I grow and my beliefs and values evolve. But for now, this helps me know who I am—A liberal Catholic firmly rooted in the Vincentian spirit. Who are you? What do you believe?

Give, Even If You Only Have a Little

By: Melanie Kulatilake

We think that giving falls in the hand of those who have money and power. They have more access to give to those in need then let’s say a college student. The Buddha would argue otherwise. Giving falls in the hands of everyone.

How can a person give when they are poor? The truth is that there is always something to give. What if the poor person lives off of the minimum wage in America and has a household of three. How does one expect them to be able to give in this type of circumstance? Here is the solution:

  • What you give to others does not always have to be new
  • It does not have to be a material item
  • It can be a priceless action

When you give something to others it does not have to be new. You can always give away an old clothing that might not fit you or a family member anymore. Was it worn before? Yes. But, if the person really needs that material they are usually not too concerned whether or not the item was worn. In this instance giving is for any of those who have material items to give.

What you give does not have to a material item. What you give can always be a service. If you don’t have any material to give then you always have the option of service. You can help an elderly bring their bags in. You can work at a food pantry. There are several opportunities where you can help another without having to give away any material items.

Okay. Well what if you don’t have a material item to give and you don’t have time to volunteer. What can you give then? You can give something that is priceless and timeless. One thing that is always an option when it comes to giving is just having a conversation with a person on the L on the way to work. That doesn’t waste your time and you can really make someone’s day. What if you don’t have time for even a conversation? You always have the opportunity to change someone’s day by smiling to them. Let them know that you acknowledge them and that you care. That is something that everyone can give to anyone.

The next time you think that you can’t give to someone else in need because you have “too little” I would ask you to think again. There is always something to give. It just might take creativity.

We Want the Best


J. Patrick Murphy argues that for Vincentian educational institutions to fulfill their mission, their leadership must model Vincentian values. It is also essential to hire faculty who will put those values and mission into practice. It is better to employ people whose personal principles match those of the Vincentians than it is to hire candidates who look the best qualified on paper, but who do not connect with the mission. The greatest results come from asking people to do their best and providing a work environment in which they can do that. Once hiring is done, leaders must continually educate faculty in Vincentian values. This fosters their own initiative to engage with the mission.

“We Want the Best” is an article published in 2005 in the Vincentian Heritage Journal, Volume 26, Issue 1, Article 3 and is available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol26/iss1/3


Vincentian Character of DePaul


“Vincentian Character of DePaul” is a chapter in the book The Playful Hand of God: Memoirs of John T. Richardson, C.M. (pp. 71-73) published by DePaul University, Chicago, IL, in 2011.  Fr. Richardson served as President of DePaul University, Chicago, IL, from 1981-1993.  In his own words, these memoirs are given “as a testament to the women and men whose lives helped build the University” and to “the ideas that shaped so much of its history.”  Though much has been written about the University by others, Fr. Richardson chose to focus on the school’s “mission which brings its vision into reality, the ideals which guide its decisions, and the persons struggling collegially to shape the policies and programs that make these ideals practical.”  In this chapter of his memoirs, Fr. Richardson reflects on his efforts to develop a university that ranks among the best in the nation while serving persons from neglected segments of our society who most need access to an excellent education.

Catholic Character of DePaul


The “Catholic Character of DePaul” is a chapter in the book The Playful Hand of God: Memoir of John T. Richardson, C.M. (pp. 74-79) published in 2011 by DePaul University, Chicago, IL.  Fr. Richardson served as President of DePaul University from 1981-1993.  In this chapter the author recounts the great history of the Catholic Church’s involvement in higher education both in Europe and in the United States over the past several hundred years.  He muses on how DePaul University had implemented some of the liberating spirit of Vatican Council II long before the beginning of that Council in 1962 and how later changes in the Church’s Canon Law in 1983 seemed an attempt to rein in some of the freedoms envisioned in Vatican II documents.  He noted Chicago’s Joseph Cardinal Bernardine’s opposition to those very restrictions and the University’s total agreement with the Cardinal. In addition, he reflects on the “space race” situation in the Cold War years when federal monies became available for research in science, technology and space exploration.  Were such monies to be available to colleges and universities with religious or church affiliations; or would grants to such institutions be considered unconstitutional?  This question was especially important to DePaul as the Music School of the University had been given special recognition by the Vatican years earlier affiliating it with the Pontifical Institute in the Vatican.  In 1966, the Board of Trustees voted to terminate that special arrangement with the Vatican and the issue became moot.

Bottom line is this (in his own words): “The Catholic identity of DePaul has not restricted learning to a sectarian point of view….the University respects the basic religious freedom of belief and practice enjoyed by its students, faculty and staff.  This explains why our undergraduate curriculum includes studies in many religions as well as the study of Catholic theology.  Catholics form the largest single religious group of student, but slightly more than half of the student body consists of other religious or no-religion groups.”

Speak Up and Say “NO” to Islamophobia


By: Shourouk Abdalla

I am instantly scared of the backlash on Muslims worldwide after the explosions in Paris. I’m already seeing Muslim friends of mine asking their Facebook friends to not correlate these attacks with Muslims or Islam. It is not even confirmed yet that ‘ISIS’ committed these attacks, and they probably did but please dear friends know that you DO NOT have to defend yourself. You alone should be living proof to your friends that terrorism has nothing to do with your religion.

I’d like to believe that the world is past this silly “jihadist, extreme Muslims” rhetoric but it’s not. So it makes sense to automatically want to share that the religion of Islam has nothing to do with this. However do so in a more strategic way. Help them get passed what the media doesn’t want the general viewers to get passed. Help them question what the government doesn’t want the general public to know. Ask them to think critically before being feed into media/gov prescribed islamaphobia. Inform them that “ISIL” has been terrorizing Muslims in Syria and Iraq since the group miraculously formed. Ask them to do research on the “history” of ISIS. Or it’s relation to various western governments and what could a world power benefit from these groups. Ask them to consider the fact that these extreme terrorist groups could be an inevitable result of European colonization. Colonization that has lead to a deteriorated Middle East region. Colonization that has instigated and manipulated wars among neighboring countries and created self-hate among these people through western supremacy and neo-colonialism. Colonization that has made these people dependent on the West in order to survive. Ask them to try to understand where it’s coming from and why. We can’t act surprised when there are terrorists attacks among western nations when years ago these countries were the attackers first. It is what it is and that still is no excuse for any type of attack.

Now if your friends need proof from Muslim religious scholars that the Quran doesn’t teach this then tell them to search the internet! Simple as that. There are thousands of religious leaders & scholars who have publically denounced the actions of these terrorist groups and have provided proof as well as what Islam says on the topics of killings, murder etc.

On to another important note.  #PrayforBeirut. #PrayforYemen. #PrayforSyria. #PrayforNumerousAfricanCountries… the list is endless.

Yes, pray for them all. If you only begin to mourn once it’s a trend on social media that all your friends jumped onto or because it’s all over the news then please be concerned for your own being. Very little were going to talk about Lebanon if it wasn’t for Paris. At least we’re getting somewhere however do note that selective mourning and sympathy is offensive and these attacks in Paris should be a reminder of the horrific events going on in the world and a wake up call for everyone, ESPECIALLY  to ISIS.

To friends who say it is not fair that people only care about France when things like this happen everyday. Indeed it is sad that everyone gets a quick update about horrific attacks only when it’s in a first world country and all the other countries get kicked aside. However it is fair for French to care about France as it is for Arabs to care about the Arab world. What makes it not fair is the controlled media that gets to pick and choose what to share and what to hype up. I HIGHLY suggest that everyone finds their own trustworthy source of information for global ongoings and stray away from government/power controlled media & news outlets. I stopped watching television years ago for a reason. While it is unclear why there is a constant series of terror and unfortunatee events all I have to say is that we must stay awake and keep an eye out for the source of everything.

The perpetrators of these horrendous attacks must be held accountable, apprehended, and brought to justice. Those brutal murders will have to answer to the One who created them. So even if there is no justice in this world, I find my comfort knowing that. “ “


*To my friends in Paris please mark yourself safe on Facebook or message me, I’m deeply concerned about your safety…


*To friends who don’t know, over 50 were killed in the “Paris of the Middle East.” Beirut, Lebanon.



Activism and Faith


Faith and activism.png

By: Shourouk Abdalla

Personally, before entering Depaul I have always been a person who questions ‘what must be done’. A person who fights injustices in everyday situations. This is an Islamic principle that I have grown to know very well, the Prophet PBUH said if you see something wrong, fix it with your hand, and if you cant fix it with your hand, speak of it with your tongue, and if you can’t do that, dislike it inside your heart and that is the weakest of faith. So as a Muslim we must oppose evil in an active and principled nuanced way, we must actively help, assist, and figure out ‘what must be done’. And this is the question St. Vincent spent his life answering. St. Vincent’s faith gave him a vision of how the world should look, in much of the same way so does Islam, therefore acting upon faith is a common ground and can invite anyone of all faiths and backgrounds to the Vincentian family and its values.

This reminds me of a Quick story: when the Prophet PBUH saw a man in a street and asked the man he was with, what do you think of this man, the man he was with responded by saying he is the noblestest of men and any woman would take his hand in marriage in a heartbeat. He later asked another man, ‘what do you think of this man’ and the man said this man?! He is the poorest of all muslims, and no women would ever accept his hand in marriage, no woman would ever consider him for marriage and he also added that no one will ever listen to him when he speaks because he is not worth listening too. Then the prophet pbuh said this man has more value than the noblest man and the entire mighty earth combined than to the wealthy man you compare him to.
Only today I realized that this is a Vincentian value. What I like about St. Vincent is that he didn’t like the statuesque, he saw countless men, women, infants and children living at the margins, people who had gone hungry, people experiencing homelessness, victims of war, orphaned children, and elderly left alone, people who did not receive adequate health care, no educational, employment, or economical opportunities. And so he tried to work upon that and figure out ‘what must be done’.

So this all inspires me, and reassures me I’m on some right path in my career and life.

You don’t have to be an activist to uphold this, just think of St.Vincents values within every day actions. Actively do good. Teaches you how to lead.