Mission and Ministry Hosts Reception for Those Taking Leave of DePaul University

On Thursday, June 8th from 2:00-4:30 pm at Cortelyou Commons, Mission and Ministry invites the university community to a reception honoring those taking leave of DePaul at the end of this academic year, whether for the VSIP or other reasons. The hope is to have a common space and time as a community to express our thanks for the many years of service and significant contributions of these colleagues to DePaul. The gathering is for those planning to leave DePaul at the end of this year and those who wish to come to support and thank them.

RSVP is required for all those planning to attend the event in person.  Due to limited capacity, there will be a waiting list kept after registration fills, but those taking leave of DePaul will be guaranteed admission.

In order for others to know who we will be recognizing, we invite those leaving DePaul to self-identify USING THIS QUALTRICS FORM.  For the sake of the broader community, Mission and Ministry will post and update the names of those who have self-identified on the DMM blog site each Wednesday and Friday between now and June 8th.

In Gratitude for Your Service
Thursday, June 8th
2:00-4:30 pm
Cortelyou Commons, Lincoln Park Campus|

Note: A Waiting List will be maintained if registrations exceed capacity, but those taking leave of DePaul guaranteed admission.

Mission and Ministry will update the list of those who have self-identified as leaving DePaul at the end of this year on this blog site, updated each Wednesday and Friday between now and the reception on June 8th.

The following faculty and staff will be taking leave of the university at the end of this academic year. They have self-identified and agreed to share their names with the university community. We will honor and thank them for their service at the reception on Thursday, June 8th.



Susan Arenz Print & Mailing Services
Patti Arntzen Information Services
Richard Ashwell Information Services
Linda Blakley University Brand and Marketing
Shirley Bono SCPS
James Boyle Public Safety
Dorothy Briestansky Enrollment Managements/ Financial Aid, DePaul Central & Registrar
Nadia Coloma Driehaus College of Business
Victoria (toy) Deiorio The Theatre School
Robin Florzak Driehaus College of Business
Dorothy Greene Advancement
Maureen Griggs Public Safety
Kris Hansen Community & Government Relations
Lorne Henne Information Services
Christa Hinton KGSB
Chris Hofmann The theatre school
Randall Honold College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Office of the Dean
Annette Kessel Loop Facility Operations
Kim Klawitter Information Services
Marla Krause Journalism
Linda Levendusky Faculty Scholarship Collaborative
Karen Loiacono Environmental Science & Studies
Cary Lovett Print and Mailing Services
Lydia Marsette EM Graduate Admissions COE/CMN
Jane McGrath Student Affairs
Joan McGrenera CDM
Laurie Melvin Treasury – Real Estate
Yolanda Mondragon CDM
Craig Mousin University Ombuds
Liz Ortiz Institutional Diversity and Equity
Chris Parker University Library
Rhonda Powell Accounts Payable
Felicia Richardson-McGee Driehaus College of Business
Guillermina Rodriguez College of Communication
Cheryl Schuh Financial Services
Matthew Sherman Document Services
Susan Shultz University Library
Stephanie Smith Human Resources
Victoria Simek Office of Academic Events
Kathryn Statz Student Affairs
Doinita Mary Toranzo Education
Janet Trzaska Advancement
Martin Williams Classroom Technologies


Louise Week 2023

In honor of Saint Louise de Marillac’s Feast Day on May 9th, the Division of Mission and Ministry invites the DePaul community to celebrate Louise Week from May 6th-12th.   

As we celebrate DePaul’s 125th anniversary and embrace a time of dreaming, designing, and innovating, Saint Louise provides us a unique example of Vincentian leadership. Her life was a demonstration of love in action through her innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. She along with her female contemporaries provided the shoulders that bore the weight of crisis that they experienced in a country racked by war, entrenched in political upheaval, overwhelmed by the plague, and struck by hunger. In community, these women collaborated across difference, uplifted the gifts in those they served and created new pathways forward to respond to those on the margins. Her story reminds us of the possibility of transforming systems and lives.  

We kick off Louise Week 2023 with Vincentian Service Day on May 6th with a week of celebration to follow.  Just as Saint Louise was sustained by the generosity and goodness of those around her, may we too take the time to pause, uplift, and celebrate with gratitude those who sustain our journey and inspire us.  

Curious to learn more about Louise’s personal journey? Check out this virtual six-day pilgrimage created last year that follows her footsteps across Paris. 

 Join us! 

Vincentian Service Day 

Date: Saturday, May 6 | Location: LPC – Sullivan Athletic Center | Time: 7:30  

Vincentian Service Day (VSD) is an annual tradition at DePaul. Started during the 1998-1999 school year as part of DePaul’s Centennial celebration, over 1000 DePaul students, staff, faculty and alumni participate in a day of service with 50+ community partners in the Chicagoland area and cities around the country. 

Register for Vincentian Service Day

Relax with Louise Holistic Care Event  

Date: Monday, May 8 1:00 – 4:00pm | Location: Cultural Centers, O’Connell Building 300 

Join the Cultural Centers and Meet Me at the Mission student leaders for an afternoon of holistic care. Come take some time to relax and learn about Louise’s approach to caring for others and her community. Each Cultural Center will offer a holistic care practice that is distinct to different identities and cultures.  

DeHub Link: https://cglink.me/2cC/r379548  

Louise Feast Day Mass & Lunch  

Date: Tuesday, May 9 | Location: Loop 11th Floor Terrace, LPC Student Center 104, |  Mass Time: 12:00 pm, Lunch Time: 12:30 pm | Lincoln Park & Loop Campuses 

Celebrate the 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 (Student Center – Suite 104). 

Loop Lunch RSVP

Dinner with the Daughters 

Date: Tuesday, May 9, 6:00 – 7:00 pm | Location: Corcoran Hall, 910 W. Belden Ave.  

Have you ever met a Daughter of Charity? Join Meet Me at the Mission and Residence Education for dinner and conversation to celebrate the Feast of St. Lousie de Marillac. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear these amazing women share their story of how they continue to live the legacy of St. Louise de Marillac today.  

DeHub Link: https://cglink.me/2cC/r379470  

Louise’s Living Legacy: Creating Community in the Business World 

Date: Wednesday, May 10  1:00 – 2:00pm | Location:  Loop, DePaul Center 11013 

Join Meet Me at the Mission and Business student leaders who went on the Vincentian Heritage Tour to have lunch, learn about the legacy of St. Louise de Marillac, and dialogue about how to live out Vincentian values in the professional world. 

DeHub Link: https://cglink.me/2cC/r379535  

Catholic Community Night: Walking in the Footsteps of Louise  

Date: May 10, 5:00 – 6:00 pm | Location: LPC Student Center Suite 104 

Join CCM’s Catholic Community Night and Meet Me at the Mission for a meaningful conversation with students who went on the Vincentian Heritage Tour and walked in the footsteps of St. Louise de Marillac.  

Cafecito con Tepeyac 

May 11, 3:00 – 4:00 | Location: Latinx Cultural Center O’Connell 360 

Join us for a conversation about women’s leadership, the legacy of St. Louise de Marillac and community with Latinx students. Cafecito and a snack will be provided!  

DeHub Link: Cafecito Con Tepeyac- Louise Week – Tepeyac (depaul.edu) 

IRL2 Lab Louise Plushie Creation 

Date: May 12, 3pm | Location: IRL 2 Lab SAC 236 

Join Meet Me at the Mission and IRL student leaders who went on the Vincentian Heritage Tour for a fun event making Louise plushies! Tap into your creativity and learn about St. Louise de Marillac’s innovation.  

DeHub Link: https://cglink.me/2cC/r379471  


Lawful Assembly Podcast: A Moral Claim for Sensible Gun Regulation

Show Notes

In this interview, Rev. Craig B. Mousin, an Adjunct Faculty member of DePaul University’s College of Law, Refugee and Forced Migration Studies Program, and the Grace School of Applied Diplomacy presents a moral argument for sensible gun regulation.  We have learned since the recording of this podcast, that Justin Jones and Justin Pearson have been appointed to be interim State Representatives in the Tennessee legislature through the action of their respective constituents.


1.      Call or write your elected representatives to enact sensible gun laws to address the epidemic of gun violence in our nation.

2.     The United Church of Christ offers a tool kit with resources to Advocate to End Gun Violence.  Review it and take prophetic action.


Justin Jones quote on the gun epidemic can be found at “Tennessee House expels 2 Democrats after gun control protest,” April 7, 2023.

Justin Pearson’s quote on sobering reality can be found at Nouran Salahieh, , “Reinstated Tennessee lawmaker Justin Jones says he’ll continue to call for gun reform” April 11, 2023.  Justin Pearson’s statement regarding whom he speaks for in the legislature can be found at Democracy Now! 2023-04—11 Tuesday between 22:34-26:18.

The reference to Gloria Johnson can be found at Robin Gibson and Devarrick Turner, “Kelsea Ballerini, Gloria Johnson refer to Knoxville’s 2008 Central High School shooting,” April 7, 2023.

Part of this podcast was inspired by my earlier op-ed “Where Does One Stand on a Slippery Slope?” (2013).  You can find additional citations to the CDC, cases, and other resources in its footnotes.

Fr. Guillermo Campuzano, C.M., “Easter Season: A Culture of Nonviolence, Resilience and Communal Hope,” April 10, 2023

Rev. William Barber’s quote can be found in Ruth Graham, “Nashville, Battered and Mourning, Pauses for Easter,” April 9, 2023.

The Washington-Post: John Woodrow Cox et al, “More Than 349,000 school shootings” includes information on how gun violence places a disproportionate impact on black youth.  (April 11, 2023) and Silvia Foster-Frau and Holly Bailey, “A tragedy without end,” March 27, 2023.

Cases cited in this podcast:  New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, 142 S. Ct. 2111, (Thomas, 2145; Alito, 2157) (2022); Glenn v. State, 72 S.E. 927, 929 (1911, Hill); State v. Workman, 14 S.E. 9, 11 (1891); Hill v. Georgia, 53 Ga. 476-7, (1874, McCay); Hopkins v. Commonwealth, 66 Ky. 480, 482 (1868, Robertson).

Listen to Sweet Honey in the Rock’s rendition of “Ella’s Song

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





Lawful Assembly Podcast – Episode 35: Let’s Not Make the Same Mistake

In this interview, Rev. Craig B. Mousin, an Adjunct Faculty member of DePaul University’s College of Law, Refugee and Forced Migration Studies Program, and the Grace School of Applied Diplomacy urges listeners to file comments opposing the Biden administration’s proposed asylum rule by 11:59 EDT, Monday, March 27, 2023.


  • Prepare a comment and invite friends and family to also file a comment opposing the proposed rule that will undermine refugee protection.
    1. Attorneys may use this template which also includes the diagram on the process discussed in the podcast.
    2. Organizations or community groups may want to use this template.
  • You can also email the White House and your Senators and Representative stating your opposition to this proposed rule emphasizing the need for a humanitarian border policy. Please find your individual link for your Senators or Representatives and urge them to oppose the Biden rule.


Solutions for a Humane Border Policy, January 17, 2023.

NIJC’s Policy Director Heidi Altman discuss some of the many problems with the proposed rule in her interview.

Javier Zamora’s book is Solito, A Memoir, (Hogarth, N.Y. 2022).  Mr. Zamora will be speaking at the NIJC’s Human Rights Award Luncheon on June 6, 2023; click here for information.

That only 10% of visas that were available were provided in the war years came from Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews, (Harper & Row, N.Y., 1987), 503.

Melissa del  Bosque describes some of the problems with the CBP One mobile app, in “From Education to Everything Else,” The Border Chronicle, March 14, 2023.

Craig Mousin volunteers with the National Immigrant Justice Center. 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

Lawful Assembly Podcast: Episode 34 – Support Humanitarian Asylum Welcome

In this interview, Rev. Craig B. Mousin, an Adjunct Faculty member of DePaul University’s College of Law, Refugee and Forced Migration Studies Program, and the Grace School of Applied Diplomacy interviews Heidi Altman, the Policy Director of the National Immigrant Justice Center (www.immigrantjustice.org).  Ms. Altman discusses a proposed rule that will effectively preclude most asylum-seekers from safely and effectively applying for asylum in the United States. She advocates for humanitarian asylum welcome.  She previously served as the legal director for the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition and was a Teaching Fellow in the immigration clinic at Georgetown University Law School.


1.       Invite friends and family to learn how the proposed rule will undermine refugee protection and encourage them to respond to their elected representatives and the Biden administration urging withdrawal of the proposed rule.

2.      The Sanctuary Working Group of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network currently serves and advocates alongside newly arrived asylum seekers in the Chicagoland area.  There are many impactful ways you can help asylum seekers, from providing sponsorship and temporary housing to covering legal fees and advocating for policy change.  Interested individuals, faith communities, or organizations may contact CRLN staff/consultant David Fraccaro at davidfraccaro99@gmail.com to talk about ways to partner together in supporting and protecting our newest neighbors.


“Solutions for a Humane Border Policy,” National Immigrant Justice Center, January 17, 2023: https://immigrantjustice.org/staff/blog/solutions-humane-border-policy

“Proposed Ban on Asylum Violates US Law and Catholic Social Teaching,” Catholic Legal Immigration Network, February 22, 2023: https://www.cliniclegal.org/press-releases/proposed-ban-asylum-violates-us-law-and-catholic-social-teaching

“Biden Asylum Ban Will Endanger Refugees, Center for Gender and Refugee Rights, February 21, 2023: https://cgrs.uchastings.edu/news/biden-asylum-ban-will-endanger-refugees

The proposed rule is scheduled for publication on February 23, 2023:  https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2023-03718.pdf

Craig Mousin volunteers with the National Immigrant Justice Center. 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

Busy Person’s Retreat Day Five: Friday, February 10

Freeing Yourself

Go, learn how to free yourself and to be open to God’s Will; let that be your lesson.[i]

Vincent de Paul was very familiar with retreats. Not long after founding the Congregation of the Mission (better known to us as the Vincentians), he began to develop and lead retreats for those about to be ordained as priests, a responsibility he greatly honored and a singular ministry of the Vincentians that lasted long after his death.[ii] Vincent and his community recognized something almost 400 years ago that we still value today: the importance of setting time aside and creating space for learning and reflection that is apart from our ordinary lives. This is so we can free ourselves, as best we can, from worries and distractions, to be led by the spirit where we are intended to go.[iii] Despite the passage of time and the differences in delivery, this week’s online Busy Person’s Retreat has provided a similar opportunity for you that Vincent’s retreats provided to their participants.

Before our retreat draws to its close, we want to invite you to reflect one more time. To pause and consider: what will I take with me from this experience? What lesson have I learned? How has God (however I may conceive of God: the Spirit, the Universe, my Higher Power, or that pure, quiet voice within), been revealed to me through the Busy Person’s Retreat?

Perhaps, upon reflection, this week did not reveal to you the need for any sort of life-altering change. Maybe you felt God’s presence more quietly, implicitly. That is appropriate … and even to be expected. Vincent de Paul himself recognized that many things, including the workings of God, happen little by little and that beginning small is probably for the best.[iv]

What is true is that you had an impulse to participate in this Busy Person’s Retreat and you said yes to this impulse. In the future, you will have more opportunities, more invitations, for personal growth and spiritual renewal. Vincent de Paul would urge us to say yes to these opportunities. By doing so, we will become more and more able to hear and welcome the voice of God.


When you feel you’ve finished this Busy Person’s Retreat, reflections and all, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. End your experience with a moment of gratitude … gratitude for connecting, even briefly, with yourself and with something bigger than yourself. Sit with this feeling of gratitude for a few moments.

There are multiple opportunities within our DePaul community and beyond for you to continue to nurture your spiritual self. Sign up for the Division of Mission and Ministry’s e-newsletter to learn about programs and services for faculty and staff. Make a point of starting your week by reading our Mission Mondays in DePaul’s Newsline every Monday for more chances to reflect and connect with our mission.

Perhaps this Busy Person’s Retreat has motivated you to think about habits or behaviors that you would like to introduce into your life. Or, alternatively, you may have identified those that you wish to minimize. A helpful exercise to assist you in identifying both life-giving and draining activities is called Stop – Start – Continue. Take a look!

Reflection by: Tom Judge, J.D., Chaplain, Division of Mission and Ministry

[i] Conference 205, “Indifference (Common Rules, Chap. II, Art. 10),” May 15, 1659, CCD, 12:197. Available online at https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/36/.

[ii] For a brief summary of Vincent’s life, visit “St. Vincent de Paul, Apostle of Charity,” St. Vincent de Paul Church, accessed February 2, 2023, http://www.svdp-richboro.org/vincent.htm.

[iii] As in the quote that opens my reflection: “Go, learn how to free yourself and to be open to God’s Will; let that be your lesson.” Conference 205, CCD, 12:197. Available online at https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/36/.

[iv] As Vincent once wrote, “God’s works are not done all at once, but little by little” (letter 2774, “To Jean Martin, Superior in Turin,” January 17, 1659, CCD, 7:454. Available online: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian_‌ebooks/‌32/). Vincent also said, “It is … fitting, therefore, for you to undertake this work [mission] in a humble way. Begin with something small and have great love for your own abjection. That is the spirit of Our Lord; that is how He acted, and that is also the means of attracting His graces (letter 1972, “To Jean Martin, Superior, in Turin,” December 10, 1655, CCD, 5:485. Available online: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/30/).


Busy Person’s Retreat Day Four: Thursday, February 9

Who Brings Out the Best in You?

Our wellness and thriving are not isolated or solo tasks. Rather, our well-being has very much to do with the network of relationships within which we live and give preference to in our daily lives.

As we think about individual wellness, an important contribution to our thinking can come in the simple recognition that we are not monads. Our well-being and emotional health consist of far more than only our personal efforts to master our inner domain of thoughts, feelings, and decisions. It has far more to do with whether or not we fulfill our New Year’s resolutions.

Vincent de Paul once said, “What a blessing to be a member of a Community because each individual shares in the good that is done by all!”[i] And in fact, much evidence seems to point to the fact that our well-being may be far more about the people and communities within which we live our lives each day—that is, the network or “social matrix” of relationships that daily impact our environment and that support and enrich us … or not. We are undeniably social beings.[ii]

Therefore, today we move to consider the people in our life. Who are those in your social network currently? While this network might certainly include your online friends to some degree, the deeper question being asked is about who are those you physically see and interact with on a regular basis? What is the overall net effect of your current relationships? With whom would you love to spend more time? Are there relationships that are either life-giving or draining for you? If so, what makes them so? How might your current network of relationships, and the use of your time with them, change to fall more on that life-giving side of the equation?

Now may also be a moment to dive a little deeper to better understand the relational or social patterns that have been established in your life. How have your habits or tendencies impacted the way you spend your emotional time and energy? Do they indicate positive and healthy patterns, which contribute in good and meaningful ways to your overall wellness?

As always, with such probing, introspective questions about our life, we benefit from beginning with gentle acceptance. Many of us are our own worst critics. Moving into healthier relationships with others and building a life-giving social community involves also building a healthier relationship with ourselves. Developing the habit of practicing gentleness with ourselves in this process can go a long way to moving us in the right direction.

What is one step you can take today or this week to move toward establishing or building upon a positive and generative social network of friendship and support?


Reflection Exercise:

Complete the “Explore Your Purpose” activity entitled, “Reflecting on People and Relationships.”

Reflection by: Mark Laboe, Associate VP for Mission a

[i] Conference 1, “Explanation of the Regulations,” 31 July 1634, CCD, 9:2. Available at https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian_‌ebooks/34/.

[ii] See also: David G. Myers, “The Funds, Friends, and Faith of Happy People,” American Psychologist 55:1 (2000): 56, https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.56; Ed Diener and Martin E. P. Seligman, “Very Happy People” Psychological Science 13:1 (2002): 81–84; Nicholas Epley, Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want (New York: Vintage, 2014); Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder, “Mistakenly Seeking Solitude,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143:5 (2014), 1980–1999, https://doi.org/10.1037/a0037323; and Erica J. Boothby, Margaret S. Clark, and John A. Bargh, “Shared Experiences are Amplified,” Psychological Science 25:12 (2014): 2209–16.



Busy Person’s Retreat Day Three: Wednesday, February 8

Don’t you remember … what I told you before, that someone who has learned a motet of music and then wishes to learn a second and a third finds it easier to learn the second than he did the first, and much easier to learn the third from the first or even the second? So, today, we have a little difficulty performing a certain act of virtue or religion; the second time we’ll have less, and the third even less than the second, and in this way, we become more and more perfect.[i]

Do your daily habits nurture wellness?

Today we are going to do a check-in on our daily habits, and hopefully empower ourselves to intentionally begin new ones.

We all have them—good, bad, neutral, and occasionally weird routines, repetitive actions, or reactive patterns that have left channels in our neural pathways, like grooves in a vinyl record. They are what help us navigate the busy-ness, sometimes cope with harm, and create productive, structuring order out of the chaos of life. To be human is to have habits! However, while not all habits are helpful, it is possible to change them with a little bit of intentional reflection, and a fair bit of hard work!

I’m sure that we can all easily identify one or two habits that we wish we didn’t have. For some of us, it’s our dependence (some might say addiction!) to our smartphones or electronic devices. Despite the occasional shaming alert from the devices themselves (“you’ve spent an average of 3 hours a day, up 10% from last week on your phone”), the lure of checking email, checking social media, playing games, diving into the rabbit hole of Wikipedia … it’s just too much to resist. For others, it might be the three cups of triple espresso shots in the morning, the four-season binge watch on the weekend, or the “just two glasses” of wine with dinner. And for a rare few of us, there are some habits that might seemingly be benign, but can in the end not lead to holistic wellness—like being addicted to working out, extreme dieting, and overcommitting socially.

There’s absolutely no shame in any of these! Shame sometimes has a way of negatively reinforcing bad habits, as we find comfort in them. However, a little bit of reflection into why we do these things and whether these habits deliver their intended purpose in our lives can help us reevaluate them. Take smartphones as an example. Why do some of us seem to have become symbiotically tethered to them, unable to function without their presence? Is it accessibility to email? To work? If it’s after normal work hours, do we really need to be connected? Or perhaps it is social media and news—we just need to know what is happening in the world right now. Admittedly, it’s a marvel that we have—in our hands—a magical device that has opened the past and the present to us. However, we can quickly get lost from the world right in front of us. Or, to quote Yoda from Empire Strikes Back, we will spend our lives looking away, “Never [our] mind on where [we are], hmm? What [we are] doing!”

Reflection Exercise:

Pick one habit you have. Ask yourself:

  1. What propels you to perform this habit on a daily basis?
  2. Why did you start doing it in the first place? What do you hope to get out of it? Is it life-giving? Do you feel more whole, or healthier after?
  3. Is there a better, healthier, more balanced action to replace it with? Try replacing the habit for a week. It will be difficult, but it’s only a week! You can do this!

Reflection by: Alexander Perry, former

[i] Conference 126, “Repetition of Prayer,” July 28, 1655, CCD, 11:197. Available online: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/‌vincentian_ebooks/37/.

Busy Person’s Retreat Day Two: Tuesday, February 7

“In Dreams Begins Responsibility”[i]

For the second day of our retreat, we move from discernment to hopes and dreams. We will come to more practical matters later, but for now let us open ourselves to visions of the future. Whether one is hoping to lead a community or just oneself to somewhere new, a vision of the hoped for destination is necessary. Ideally this vision should be of a place not quite like anything one has experienced before but still vivid enough to pull us toward it.

I invite you to clear your mind of distractions and of all the tasks and anxieties that are calling to you. Take some deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Close your eyes and try to feel some kind of calm.

Now, I invite you to read a few short passages about different experiences relating to this topic of dreams, of hopes, of visions. These can be used to describe different though perhaps related experiences. For example in Arabic the word ru’ya can be translated as “dream” or “vision.” When we speak of our highest hopes for the future, we often refer to them as “dreams.”

One of the most profound examples of such a dream or vision in our Vincentian tradition is the Lumière experience of Saint Louise de Marillac. During a time of great turmoil and doubt in her life and her soul, Louise was not only gifted with a calming certainty in her spirit but a vision of her future:

On the Feast of Pentecost, during holy Mass or while I was praying in the church, my mind was instantly freed of all doubt. I was advised that I should remain with my husband and that a time would come when I would be in a position to make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and that I would be in a small community where others would do the same. I then understood that I would be in a place where I could help my neighbor but I did not understand how this would be possible since there was to be much coming and going. I was also assured that I should remain at peace concerning my director; that God would give me one whom He seemed to show me. It was repugnant to me to accept him; nevertheless, I acquiesced. It seemed to me that I did not yet have to make this change.[ii]

This profound experience would serve as a comfort and guide to Louise for the rest of her life. Her description is taken from a piece of worn, many folded paper. She would apparently carry this around with her and take it out whenever she needed to be reminded, and on the back she had written the word lumière (French for light).

In the Muslim tradition, the following is narrated about the beginning of Prophet Muhammad’s[iii] prophetic experiences:

The beginning of the Revelation that came to the Messenger of Allaah was good dreams; he never saw a dream but it came true like bright daylight. Then seclusion was made dear to him, and he used to go to the cave of Hiraa’ and worship there, which means that he went and devoted himself to worship for a number of nights before coming back to his family to collect more provisions, then he would go back again. Then he would go back to Khadeejah to collect more provisions.[iv]

It was the regular practice of the Prophet to sit with his companions after the dawn prayers and ask them to share their dreams with him.[v] In a description brimming with many possible implications of meaning, the Prophet also was reported to have said, “The most truthful of dreams are seen shortly before dawn.”[vi]

In American cultural memory, one of the most powerful invocations of dreaming a vision for the future comes from what is known as the “I Have a Dream” speech of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Although we know the speech by that title, the phrase did not appear in King’s prepared text.[vii] In fact, what has become the most famous portion of the speech was improvised by King in response to a call from gospel legend Mahalia Jackson to “tell them about the dream, Martin!” She was calling on King to bring to that enormous stage his inspiring vision of the beloved community toward which he wanted the nation to strive.

Pope Francis speaks of a powerful vision of fraternity and social friendship across all the borders that divide us in his Encyclical letter, Fratelli Tutti:

Here we have a splendid secret that shows us how to dream and to turn our life into a wonderful adventure. No one can face life in isolation … We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead. How important it is to dream together … By ourselves, we risk seeing mirages, things that are not there. Dreams, on the other hand, are built together.[viii]

As we draw near to the end of today’s reflection and perhaps are feeling that painful anticipation of having to wake from a beautiful dream, let us close with a moving description of dreams and of peace and of comfort from Marilynne Robinson’s novel Gilead:

I went up to the church to watch the dawn come, because that peace does restore me better than sleep can do. It is as though there were a hoard of quiet in that room, as if any silence that ever entered that room stayed in it. I remember once as a child dreaming that my mother came into my bedroom and sat down in a chair in the corner and folded her hands in her lap and stayed there, very calm and still. It made me feel wonderfully safe, wonderfully happy. When I woke up, there she was, sitting in that chair. She smiled at me and said, “I was just enjoying the quiet.” I have that same feeling in the church, that I am dreaming what is true.[ix]


Questions for Reflection:

  1. As you hear these stories about other famous people and their dreams, what are the dreams or ideas that begin to emerge for you about your own life and what you feel drawn or called to explore?
  2. We may think of dreaming as something very solitary or focused on the individual. Is that the case in these examples? What are some of the ways in which dreaming can be communal as well as individual?
  3. From where do alternative visions of the future come? What do you need to be connected to in your own life or what practices do you engage in to nourish your dreams and visions and hopes? What do you think is the relationship between hopes and dreams and the creation of new realities?

Reflection by: Abdul-Malik Ryan, J.D., Assistant Dire

[i] Epigraph, attributed to “Old Play,” to W.B. Yeats, Responsibilities and Other Poems (London: Macmillan, 1916).

[ii] Document A.2, “Light,” Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, ed. and trans. Louise Sullivan, D.C. (New York: New City Press: 1991), 1.

[iii] Peace and blessings be upon him and upon all of the prophets of God.

[iv] Sahih al-Bukhari, hadith 3.

[v] Sahih al-Bukhari, hadith 7047.

[vi] Sunan al-Tirmidhi, hadith 2274.

[vii] Emily Crockett, “The Woman Who Inspired Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech,” Vox, updated January 16, 2017, https://www.vox.com/2016/1/18/10785882/martin-luther-king-dream-mahalia-jackson.

[viii] Available online at: Fratelli Tutti.

[ix] Marilynne Robinson, Gilead (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004), 132–33.

Busy Person’s Retreat Day One: Monday, February 6

Vincent de Paul studies book

Today’s opening reflection to this year’s Busy Person’s Retreat invites us to consider “How can I stay spiritually healthy so I can discern what is essential in life?”

A rite of passage in making a good retreat must surely begin with slowing down and becoming aware of the present moment.

With this in mind, as you start the retreat this morning, I invite you to take a few slow deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. As you do, seek to let go of any stressors that may be making a claim on your heart and mind right now. Try to let any anxieties go, and become aware of the present moment. Rest in the certainty that the present moment is enough.

I now invite you to carve out the next few minutes to rest in this space. Be still and know …

Let us begin.

Each one of us has a unique identity and place in the world. Indeed, it is humbling to think that no one who has ever existed on this planet is quite like us, and there will never be another person like us again!

My personal faith tradition is Catholic. My formation in this tradition has very much shaped the way in which I see the world. It is from this perspective that I write. I believe that God speaks to each of us in the depth of our hearts, through community and in the everyday, ordinary events of our lives.

Many years ago, I was introduced to the writings of Frederick Buechner, an American writer and theologian, who so eloquently echoed this cornerstone of my belief.

If God speaks anywhere, it is into our personal lives that he speaks. Someone we love dies, say. Some unforeseen act of kindness or cruelty touches the heart or makes the blood run cold. We fail a friend, or a friend fails us, and we are appalled at the capacity we all of us have for estranging the very people in our lives we need the most. Or maybe nothing extraordinary happens at all— just one day following another, helter-skelter, in the manner of days. We sleep and dream. We wake. We work. We remember and forget. We have fun and are depressed. And into the thick of it, or out of the thick of it, at moments of even the most humdrum of our days, God speaks. But what do I mean by saying that God speaks? He speaks not just through the sounds we hear, of course, but through events in all their complexity and variety, through the harmonies and disharmonies and counterpoint of all that happens.[i]

If we are to understand how to take better take care of ourselves and remain spiritually healthy, we need to know how to discern well and how to align our values and behaviors with healthy choices that support us choosing life. This will surely involve learning how to listen and to trust the voice deep within, paying attention to the wisdom of the community that supports us, and observing the rhythm of our days.

At first, this may sound easy, but how do we discern well amid the cacophony of dissonant and competing clatter that regulates our waking hours? Maybe some Vincentian wisdom can guide us along our discernment path.

Vincent de Paul’s process of discernment had three parts: an openness to God’s will, an evaluation of reasons for or against an action, and a consultation with wise persons.[ii]

For Vincent and Louise, it was in the concrete and sometimes messy circumstances of their lives that they so deeply experienced the presence of God. They found God very much alive in the midst of their relationships, especially with those who existed on the margins of seventeenth-century French society. The essence of their approach involved “living with a listening heart, paying daily attentiveness to God’s presence, and a daily discerning and decisioning.”[iii] Such a Vincentian approach has been described by scholar Vie Thorgren as “living with a discerning heart.”[iv] This discerning sensibility would also involve examining the pros and cons of a situation and deciding on a suitable response or outcome.

Yet, it is important to note that it was often only after events themselves had passed, in an intimate moment of prayer and contemplation, that their meaning became clear. Thus, for Vincent and Louise, carving out quiet, reflective moments was essential as it provided opportunities to interpret the events of their lives through the lens of their faith, and in dialogue with their lived experience.

The final integral part of Vincent and Louise’s discernment process involved seeking advice and sound counsel from others whose wisdom they respected. This stemmed from their deep belief and trust in the fact that God mediated God’s will through people.[v] Consequently, while receiving wise counsel, Vincent and Louise would seek to identify the word of God, which would then help guide and inform their decision-making and their quest for right and just action.

So, what might all of this mean for us today? A wise colleague in ministry once posited this question, “If you can’t say no to the people in your life, then what does your yes really mean?” This question has remained with me for many years.

And so, I will leave you with some questions of my own to ponder on this day of our opening retreat. What is the quality of the yeses in your life right now? Are you saying no when you need to? And how, with a listening heart, might you discern the difference?

Reflection by: Siobhan O’Donoghue, M. Div., Director of Faculty and Staff Eng

[i] Frederick Buechner, The Sacred Journey (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1982), pp. 1-2.

[ii] As observed in the abstract to Hugh O’Donnell, C.M., “Vincentian Discernment,” Vincentian Heritage 15:1 (1994). Available at: http://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol15/iss1/2.

[iii] O’Donnell, “Vincentian Discernment,” 15.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid., 8.