Easter Season: A Culture of Nonviolence, Resilience and Communal Hope

With this reflection, we send Easter greetings to all the people connected to DePaul University, people of all religious traditions and none. We come together out of our shared need for meaning, peace, healing, and a space and time of rest for our restless hearts. I invite all of you to enter that place with us.

In the Christian world, Good Friday is full of a cry of suffering, pain, and abandonment: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). This is the cry of the anguish and desperation of the Christ on the cross.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is the painful cry of too many today. When working at the United Nations, I became aware that this cry of anguish and pain of life in all its forms is caused by many different environmental and social realities: missing species, shrinking habitats, collapsed fisheries, bitter seas, soil erosion, plastic apocalypse, the mass-spreading of diseases, rising sea levels, environmental refugees, receding forests, melting glaciers, rising greenhouse gases, massive migrations of species trying to survive, more intense storms, endless winters, growing deserts, arctic meltdown, climate volatility, economic chaos, scandalous inequality, the spread of mental illnesses, inability or lack of interest in outlining an ethic for human-technological interaction, the festering wounds of racism and classism, misogyny and racial, gender, religious, economic hegemony, human trafficking and slavery, economic injustice, inequality and discrimination against minorities of various identities, violence, war, and toxic polarizing politics… and the list goes on.[1]

In this context, it seems appropriate to ask, Where is God? The feelings of abandonment and despair are not far from many of our minds and hearts, even if some may feel uncomfortable thinking this way. When Vincent heard this cry of the most abandoned, he dared to listen. He began a movement of resilient hope, nonviolence, and peace, transforming solidarity. He decided to follow the wisdom and direction of life, not death.

In the Vincentian movement, we are committed to telling people living in suffering and desperation that they are not alone and have not been abandoned and that God is with them. Often the only sign of God that feeds their hope is in the hands, the solidarity, and the compassion of a growing number of people of goodwill who continue to join the human march toward life, hope, reliance, justice, and peace.

We are not exempt from the consequences of the chaos of our interconnected, globalized world. Among us in our neighborhoods and our many communities of belonging here at DePaul University, if we are attentive, we can hear in the cry of vulnerable life a call for help too.

Concretely, during these challenging days, when in conversations and decision-making processes related to Designing DePaul and our projected budget gap, we must always be attentive to hear the cries for help of the most vulnerable members of our community. In this way, meaning, equity, and the sense of belonging will prevail, and we will continue to be rooted in the Vincentian spirit.

The Easter season is full again with good news: The Lord is risen, Alleluia! (Matthew 28:5–7).

According to the Christian scriptures, “very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, [women] went to the tomb when the sun had risen” (Mark 16:2). Amid the darkness, they set out on the road giving company to each other.

Because it is not yet dawn for so many peoples, these women of the morning are calling us to overcome all fear and to set our feet on the road together to witness and actively be part of the triumph of life over death. At every dawn in each corner of the world, millions of humans set out on the road and are the door to each grave; they are witnesses of life, light, and hope.

In the Christian tradition, when we are amid our pain, trials, and anguish, asking why God has forsaken us, God surprises us with a new presence, many times in little signs that we need to identify and translate. The resurrection of the Lord is not a magical experience but a lived reality in the communities that dare to make the call for mutual help and care central to their common survival.

In the Christian paschal mystery, the darkest part of the night is often shortly before the dawn. “The joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5).  The joyful proclamation of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday assures us that the last word lies not with violence, injustice, and inhumanity but with God’s purpose of love, justice, and hope. This purpose runs like a thread throughout history and will find its ultimate fulfillment in the coming fullness of the Kin-dom, the common eschatological place where all cultures and religions and all species in our common home are going.

As a Vincentian, I am excited to be alive this Easter. I see a movement in the Catholic Church that is once again looking for a profound transformation. This Easter season invites us to live and generate a culture of renewal in the heart of the Church as we follow Jesus in our total commitment to the protection, care, and survival of life.

Pope Francis is inviting the Church to embrace the gospel of nonviolence as a concrete expression of our commitment to life in the context of the Easter celebrations of this year: “Living, speaking, and acting without violence is not giving up, it is not losing or giving up anything, but aspiring to everything.” May we spread this culture of nonviolence far and wide. May we all join the world in praying for such a nonviolent culture. May we move forward with great gratitude for this word calling us to the fullness of the nonviolent life “aspiring to everything.” (You can see the original press release here.)

Pope Francis knows that the gospel of nonviolence has not always characterized Christianity. Christians have often been a significant obstacle to God. As a part of our commitment to live as resurrected people, we need to ask for forgiveness for the “holy wars,” the inquisition, for blessing guns and bombs, for attempting to justify and participating in the torture and enslavement of human beings, for holding signs that say that God hates people of various minorities, for starting violent apocalyptic militias, for blowing up abortion clinics, for turning a blind eye to poverty and exclusion, and for the sexual abuse of children by priests and religious. These things, and many others, are not the Christianity of Jesus Christ who publicly forgave his killers. They are a Christianity that has become unrecognizably ill and that does not reflect the paschal mystery in which violence, abuse, exclusion, injustice, and death are defeated.


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

[1] In this list I am using the language I read and heard in United Nations documents, meetings, and conferences.

Change in Systems, Change in People

Last week on February 22, Christians celebrated Ash Wednesday, the traditional start of the Lenten season. Lent is the liturgical season of about forty days that leads to the celebration of Easter by millions of people throughout the world. For them, it is a time of preparing their minds and hearts to receive more fully and to remember again the transformative meaning and power of the Easter story, most notably that of the resurrection of the crucified Christ. This annual ritual of the Lenten season embodies the learned wisdom of the Christian community: humanity benefits from a regular time of “spiritual fine-tuning” to remember and return to what is most essential and to remain open to ongoing transformation.

The season of Lent is in many ways about remembering what we have forgotten and returning to what we already know, which becomes a transformative experience for many. The return to what we know most deeply about self, God, and life becomes a movement toward change, renewal, and a new way of being, doing, and relating. It is something that our entrenched habits may have prevented us from seeing or engaging in previously.

Surprisingly, I thought of the annual ritual practice of Lent during a recent seminar, “Charity, Justice and Systemic Change in the Vincentian Tradition,” led by Father John Rybolt, C.M. In this seminar, Father Rybolt spoke of the necessary relationship between systemic change and the change that must take place within and among people to make participation in systemic change possible. Always fascinated by the question of what makes positive change or transformation possible, I have come to believe there is something important in this insight about systemic change. It connects directly to the spiritual purpose of Lent – that is, the transformation of minds and hearts is necessary for the transformation of systems. They rise and fall with each other.

This insight is central to understanding the tenuous yet profound connection between Saint Vincent de Paul and what we now know of as “social justice,” which was an unknown concept in the minds of those in seventeenth-century France. While Vincent may not have known of the concept of social justice as we know it today, he seems to have clearly understood this fact: for lasting social transformation to occur, we must recognize the unavoidable relationship between the change in systems (economic, political, religious, social) and the change needed within and among persons. Systemic change requires intrapersonal and interpersonal change as well as a change in minds and hearts.

Vincent saw with the eyes of charity, or caritas, which can be translated most meaningfully as love. Vincent paid attention to people and to daily life and events. He recognized what was not right and responded to address the immediate needs of people, while also building new systems that would prove more effective in caring for them. He preached, taught, persuaded, and cajoled his contemporaries, often transforming minds and heart to become more open to encounter the suffering poor of his day. He encouraged the cultivation of habits (virtues) that led to active participation in working for the common good. That said, he did not work for the wholesale teardown of the existing system. He worked within existing systems, and then relationally among and for people, to make change and transformation possible.

Reflection Questions:

  • What is the way in which you believe you can contribute most effectively to the positive transformation of systems and people?
  • What habits or ways of seeing, working, or relating get in the way of your ability to contribute more fruitfully to this transformation?
  • What is the transformation that must take place in you for you to live more fully – perhaps beginning over these next 40 days!?

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

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “We are on the move now… Our God is marching on”


“Today I want to say to the people of America and the nations of the world, that we are not about to turn around. We are on the move now…. Let us march on segregated schools until every vestige of segregated and inferior education becomes a thing of the past, and Negroes and whites study side-by-side in the socially-healing context of the classroom.”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. March 25, 1965[1]

The words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose memory we celebrate in the coming week, are an eloquent reminder for all races and ethnicities that dreams have not been defeated. This is not a post-utopian era. Utopias are alive in the hearts of all who struggle to build true democracies in which all people, especially the “most abandoned” (as Vincent de Paul called them), can finally live with dignity. The memory of Dr. King should always awaken a belief that a better world is still possible.

History is a continuum—in the utopia of yesterday, the reality of today was incubated, just as new realities will breathe from the utopias of today. The utopia of one century often becomes a simple fact of the next century. Utopian vision is the beginning of all true progress and the design of a better future. I believe it’s not too late to make real Dr. King’s utopia of a just world in which people of all cultures and races are treated equally and given the same opportunities to flourish.

In our encounters within the Vincentian Family, we constantly realize that our creativity is not exhausted and that we are still too far away from the realization of a world in which all forms of life are respected and protected. We must ensure ‘the most abandoned,’ as Vincent called them, are taken care of, and provided with everything they need to live with dignity.

In a 1965 sermon, Dr. King explained that the “majestic words” of the Declaration of Independence, “all [people] are created equal,” were the foundation of the Civil Rights Movement.[2] He did not see that document as a lie but as an unfulfilled promise, “raised to cosmic proportions,” that the movement was now struggling to realize. When we see the unbearable suffering of so many people in the United States, especially so many people of African descent, we understand the current challenges of the movement Dr. King championed.

DePaul University is built on top of this same foundation, this universal truth. Vincentian understanding recognizes the dignity of every human story, and especially those persons that are broken because of systemic injustice, structural poverty, inequity, exclusion, or social and racial discrimination. We recognize the essential equity among all human beings of so many diverse backgrounds.

In many places of the world, I have seen a growing movement of intersectional liberation and social transformation. We, the Vincentian Family, are bearers of just part of this seed of life that has been entrusted to all races, religions, cultures, social classes, and nations of the earth. This seed is hidden in the heart of the Vincentian charism, a charism that belongs to the reign of God and his justice. It is deeply connected with all the other seeds entrusted to humanity to make dignified life on our planet possible and sustainable. The vitality and relevance of the Vincentian spirit can only be guaranteed if a connection with this universal movement is kept alive.

The Vincentian charism is pro-cultural. We are at the crossroads of history alongside the excluded of the earth, and of the earth itself, and our horizon is the same that the universal movement of justice and peace envisions: “a new heaven and a new earth”![3] The systemic racial justice of Dr. King’s utopia is a Vincentian issue that we embrace from our own convictions and for our vocation. His dream is not strange to us. Our Vincentian sociology, theology, and anthropology naturally bring us to this cause. We are on the move, marching with God for a world free of hate. DePaul should be a school where the equitable new world is designed, where students of all racial identities and diverse cultural backgrounds come together “side-by-side in the socially-healing context of the classroom” as Dr. King envisioned in 1965. That is the dream.

In 2022, the memory of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. can give us all the elements we need to understand that the emancipatory movement is urgent today and needs support from every angle. It is deeply connected with all social and environmental movements of liberation and transformation.

We are on the move, we cannot stop marching, and we won’t turn around now! We will continue resisting the hegemonic ego- and capital-centric narratives that are destroying our planet, making life unsustainable, and oppressing human beings. It is an urgent necessity that all human, social, and environmental movements of systemic change work together side by side to be effective. As Dr. King said, “The battle is in our hands. And we can answer with creative nonviolence the call to higher ground to which the new directions of our struggle summons us. The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going.”[4]


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

[1] Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Our God is Marching On,” speech, March 25, 1965, Montgomery, AL, transcript, https://‌kinginstitute.‌stanford.‌‌edu/‌our-god-marching.

[2] Ibid.

[3] For biblical examples, see, e.g., Isaiah 65:17-19, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1, and Isaiah 66:22.

[4] Ibid.

A Vincentian Call at this Moment

At this moment in time, the Division of Mission and Ministry recommits to the principle of justice. For the families and communities of all those directly impacted by systemic oppression, police brutality and the plethora of mass shootings and gun violence that have cut short the lives of many, we continue to grieve, to be outraged, to pray, and to act. In living out the Vincentian question, What must be done, we recommit ourselves to never ceasing in our struggle for justice. Our work is the work of connecting contemplation and action – centering marginalized voices and ennobling the dignity of all. Our Mission and Ministry staff continues to be here to listen, to believe, to accompany, and to walk together.

As well at this moment, we share a powerful result of communally connecting prayer and action. In February of this year, DePaul’s Division of Mission and Ministry along with our Muslim student group UMMA and the local nonprofit organization IMAN hosted a Virtual Fast-a-Thon, in which people were invited to experience fasting as a spiritual practice connected to building solidarity and working for social change. Our special guest was Cariol Horne, a former Buffalo (N.Y.) police officer who had been fired from her job after intervening to stop abuse by another officer in 2006. As a result of her firing, Cariol also was prevented from collecting her pension. Cariol has never stopped struggling for justice, both in her case and in the wider cause of preventing police abuse. Her case, and her struggle received renewed attention in the wake of the George Floyd case and other prominent cases which raised questions about why police officers didn’t intervene to stop abuse by other officers. In late 2020, Cariol’s Law was passed in the city of Buffalo to obligate officers to intervene to stop abuse and protect them from retaliation after doing so as well as other systemic police reforms which can serve as a model for other jurisdictions.

During Fast-a-Thon after reflecting on her own experience of fasting for the day of the event, Cariol was asked how she was able to persevere in her struggle for justice for so long. She spoke about her children and her community. She shared how deeply it affected her when she heard of others who had given up on constructive change and lashed out in ways that were destructive to others or to their own selves. She said she wished that they had known of her own campaign and that people like her were struggling and she was moved by the solidarity of others and the attention her case was finally getting. Last week, as the sacred fasting month of Ramadan began, we received the good news that Cariol had prevailed in her court case, that she would receive formal reinstatement and back pay that would allow her to receive her pension. (For more information on Cariol’s case and Cariol’s law visit cariolslaw.com).

We are called by our Vincentian Mission to connect contemplation and action – to be in solidarity with those who are marginalized, oppressed and suffering. We recognize the limitations of our own individual experiences and perspectives and experience the great wisdom and inspiration that are gained in encounter and solidarity across social divides. We strive to take part in efforts that sustain struggles against injustice and work constructively toward nonviolent systemic change. We firmly believe that all people of goodwill joining together in such efforts is the way forward, a path that is steep and difficult at times, but filled with beautiful rewards.

 


Photo: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

St. Josephine Bakhita: Model of Resilience, Right Relationship, and Solidarity

Today, February 8th, we celebrate the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, FDCC, a twentieth-century saint with ties to the spirit of the Vincentian family. Josephine was canonized in 2000, and we still have much to learn about her life.

Born in Sudan in 1869, Josephine was kidnapped and enslaved as a young child. After being sold numerous times, she was trafficked to Italy, where she worked as a caregiver for a family’s young child. The child attended a school run by the Canossian Daughters of Charity, and it was here that Josephine claimed her self-agency. She took her case to court and, with the support of the Daughters, advocated for her own freedom. In 1896, she took vows and became a Canossian Daughter of Charity.1

Unlike many of our own Vincentian family members, Josephine’s pivotal moment of awakening was not growing aware of the hardships of those on the margins. Rather, Josephine became aware of her own power and the strength of her own voice.

Josephine is the patron saint of both Sudan and of the survivors of human trafficking. Her feast day marks the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking. In a world wherein markets depend on exploitation, modern day slavery, and prison labor, Josephine’s story reminds us that we are an interconnected, global human family. As consumers, the decisions we make impact the lives of our kin around the globe. Josephine calls us to see those relationships with her words, “We must love everyone…we must be compassionate!”2

By shopping second-hand, by prioritizing Fair Trade and ethically sourced goods, and by demanding corporate responsibility, each of us can take small steps toward ending modern day slavery. As we celebrate Josephine’s feast day, take a moment to reflect on the ways you feel called to honor her story.

  • What is one way you can commit to material simplicity and solidarity in the week ahead?
  • What is one step you can take to become more aware of human trafficking in our world today?
  • How can you use your voice to advocate for change and defend human dignity?

1 The Canossian Daughters of Charity, also called Daughters of Charity, Servants of the Poor, were founded in 1808 at Verona, Italy, by Saint Maddalena Gabriella di Canossa (1774-1835, canonized 1988). Their work was centered on Christian doctrine and in the care of poor children, in hospitals, and in education. Canossa was familiar with the Vincentian spirit and had planned to found this institute in collaboration with a Lady of Charity, who changed her mind and abandoned the project. The mission of this institute is to serve the poor. Other communities evolved from its foundation include the Institute of the Holy Family of Leopoldina Naudet; the Minims of Charity of Mary the Most Sorrowful Mother of Teodora Campestrini; the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of Maria Bucchi; and the Daughters of the Church of Oliva Bonaldo. Generalate: Via della Stazione di Ottavia, 70; 00135 Rome, Italy.

See also, Betty Ann McNeil, D.C., The Vincentian Family Tree: A Genealogical Study (V.S.I., 1996), p. 25, n. 25. Online at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/6

2 Quote drawn from a webpage celebrating the life of Sr. Josephine, and sponsored by the Canossian Daughters of Charity: http://www.bakhita.fdcc.org/eng/bakhita-s-sayings.html

Reflection by: Emily LaHood-Olsen, Ministry Coordinator for Service Immersions, Division of Mission and Ministry

 

Fighting for Civil Rights in a Fragile Democracy: The Vincentian Spirit and the Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963

 

I am convinced that the very foundation of the Vincentian Spirit began with, and still demands, a specific approach to understanding reality. It is rooted in the experience of all those on the margins of society deprived of their essential rights to food, education, health care, clothing, and housing, as well as all victims of systemic injustice due to their race, sex, sexual orientation, social class or religion. In this sense, I believe that civil rights and democracy are Vincentian themes, and that in these two “signs of the times” we find a concrete Vincentian call for DePaul as an educational institution.

This week we celebrate the memory and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We are also witnessing a national transition of governmental power in the United States that has exposed the fragility of democracy. Governmental stability is necessary for the well-being of people living in poverty or on the margins, as social conflict, pandemics, and natural disasters always disproportionately affect the most vulnerable. Vincent de Paul said that the most vulnerable are “our portion” in life, or our responsibility, our place, our call, and our ultimate vocation. (1)

I believe that the struggle to fully construct our democracy framed Dr. King’s call. He fought for civil rights based on the social contract of democracy—a system that demands we commit to preserve and expand the common good by recognizing and respecting the civil rights of all people as equal. Dr. King fought for the civil rights of Black people and communities in defense of, and to fulfill, the democratic dream that all are recognized and respected as equal in both rights and responsibilities. In the U.S., civil rights are to this day an unsettled issue, as the full incorporation of Black and Brown people into the life of the country is clearly unresolved.

Over the past four years we have seen that democracy is a dynamic—sometimes historic—human-made, socio-political system that is always changing. It therefore never seems to be fully functional. The democratic system demands constant monitoring and oversight to prevent the gradual erosion of its quality. In recent years, as democracy has become a domestic concern for the American people, the U.S. has shifted its priority from defending democracy abroad to scrutinizing itself. Our time of being recognized as the global defender and model of democracy seems to have been lost, and our current crisis is creating questions worldwide. Clearly, strengthening our democratic processes will not only benefit U.S. institutions and citizens, but also the international community.

When leaving the White House, President Barack Obama reminded us “citizenship is the most important position in a democracy.”(2) In the twenty-first century, committed citizens of the world continue to be confronted with the challenges of democracy—whether building it from the ground up, restoring it, preserving it in fragile or failed states, or improving the quality of it in so-called strong democracies like the U.S.

In our society the democratic principles that guarantee peace and prosperity are merged throughout the social, economic, and legal fabric. These principles can be found everywhere in the Constitution, and in the essential democratic underpinnings of human rights, fundamental freedoms, equal rights regardless of gender, freedom of speech, as well as in the elimination of differences of treatment on the basis of race, sex, language, social class, physical condition, sexual orientation, or religion. Dr. King clearly understood that non-racial discrimination is one of these essential principles, without which democracy is simply an unfulfilled dream.

We believe, as Dr. King did, that a fully-fledged democracy, with its legal and ethical basis, is a means to achieve peace, security, economic and social progress, sustainable development, and respect for the human rights of all. I am frightened when I read that more and more young people around the world think there are other means to achieve these goals. They see the failure of the political patriarchal model, the failure and corruption of politicians and political parties, and the severe dismantling of the foundations of our democratic process. For me, it is difficult to comprehend that the civil rights fight Dr. King faced over half-a-century ago, which happened in the context of U.S. democracy, reflects the current outcry for racial justice, and the current context of our democracy. What, then, does this say of our democracy?

DePaul University is a Vincentian institution dedicated to education. We are inspired and sustained by the Vincentian Spirit. The signs of the times are demanding we recognize what has been called “education for democracy” by the United Nations: “a broad concept which can help to inculcate democratic values and principles in a society, encouraging citizens to be informed of their rights and the existing laws and policies designed to protect them, as well as training individuals to become democratic leaders in their societies.”(3) Education for democracy involves an active effort to encourage the full participation of citizens in the different democratic processes. This kind of education demands we attend to the peaceful and non-violent coexistence of diverse societies, including access, equity, social justice, individual and institutional ethical behavior, checks and balances of power as well as individual rights and responsibilities.

Education is also critical in empowering citizens to hold accountable those politicians and political parties that hold positions of power, as well as the institutions designed to create laws and policies that safeguard the rights of all.

Founded in the Vincentian Spirit, DePaul needs to be committed, through its educational practice, to strengthen democratic citizenship and promote effective popular participation. As we celebrate Dr. King and hope for a peaceful and non-violent transition of national power, we must continue our fight for the civil rights of all. The peaceful transition of power is one of the essential principles of global democracy.

We must also not forget that in the U.S. the essential democratic right to vote is yet another unresolved issue. It is evident that Black, Brown, and Indigenous people’s access to free and equal voting opportunities are curtailed through mechanisms such as unjust purging of registered voter lists, lack of access to polling places, and long lines at those polling places that are still operational. We need to resolve this issue, among many others, to restore and protect the meaning of democracy in our nation.

The role of the Black community in the preservation of our democracy cannot be ignored. In recent elections the Black community, again, voted in huge numbers and, in many cases, under unfair conditions. They stood up once more to claim their rights, and in so doing, they helped all Americans regain a vision of the real meaning of democracy. As I remember and honor the life of Dr. King, I want to honor and praise the role of the Black community nationwide, which continues to fight for justice and democracy on so many fronts, and often at high personal cost. It is neither fair nor sustainable to expect Black Americans to continue to bear such a disproportionate burden in the fight for civil rights and upholding democracy.

All citizens are called to defend the principles of our democracy: equality, respect, responsibility, agency, and opportunity for all. But now, in this moment in history, I thank Black leaders like Dr. King for their legacy, the very many activist leaders working for justice today, and all Black Americans who continue the fight to uphold democracy. I thank you for your sacrifices, your contributions, and your critical victories. You are living evidence of the struggle to protect and the resilience to uphold our democracy.


1) Conference 180, Observance of the Rules, 17 May 1658, CCD, 12:4.

2) President Barack Obama, Farewell Address, 10 January 2017. See: https://‌obama‌whitehouse.‌archives.gov/‌farewell

3) Guidance Note of the Secretary-General on Democracy, United Nations, 2005. See: Guidance Note on Democracy

Other Bibliography

Campuzano, Guillermo, C.M., Personal Notes, 2018 United Nations meeting on Democracy.

“Conferencias de San Vicente de Paul,” Editorial CEME, XII:4.

King, Dr. Martin Luther, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963). See: https://‌www.‌theatlantic.‌com/‌magazine/‌archive/2018/02/‌letter-from-a-birmingham-jail/552461/

 

Reflection By: Guillermo Campuzano, C.M., Vice President Division of Mission & Ministry

Virtual Service Immersion Reflection

Every year, the Division of Mission and Ministry hosts 13 service immersion trips over winter and spring break. On these immersions, students travel to a different city, engage in service and social justice work through a Vincentian lens, and build community with one another. Although COVID precautions prohibited this year, the Division of Mission and Ministry worked with community partners in St. Louis, Cincinnati, and El Salvador to create virtual immersions. Below is a reflection from the St. Louis student leader, Chloe Brougham.

This December, I had the pleasure of going on the first round of virtual service immersions. For four days I zoomed into St. Louis, Missouri to learn about anti-racism through the Vincentian charism.

Each day our group of 13 DePaul students and 1 wonderful staff mentor logged onto three synchronous zoom sessions in which we learned about Vincentianism, St. Louis, social change, and about one another. In between these sessions we did individual reflections, built community over group messages, watched documentaries, participated in a virtual scavenger hunt of St. Louis, and participated in unique ways of spirituality through art, poetry, dance, setting dream intentions, and many other practices.

We engaged in authentic dialogue with many community members in St. Louis. To highlight just a few, we spoke to Sister Ellen LaCapria, a Daughter of Charity, who shared her art with us and spoke about expressions of spirituality. DeMarco Davidson, an organizer and activist who was on the ground and active in the 2014 Ferguson protests after the murder of Michael Brown, shared his story and spoke to us about acknowledging our part in systematic oppression. Kaveh Razani, an artist, business owner, and member of Cherokee Street Community Improvement District spoke with us about gentrification, cultural displacement, and his use of moral imagination to combat the cultural erasure as Cherokee Street is becoming developed.

The conversations we had with Sister Ellen, DeMarco, Kaveh, and others in St. Louis completely blew me away. These dialogues are what I will carry with me through life, hearing the stories and experiences of those on the ground making change provided insight and wisdom that we can’t get from watching the news, reading books, scrolling social media, or even in our classes; these were profound experiences of authentic dialogue, person to person.

Our group had so many connections to your Vincentian family who lives in a different city and who have different lives experiences. We had artists, activists, business owners, and Vincentians in our group who all could relate the stories and wisdom shared by Sister Ellen, DeMarco, and Kaveh. In light of all I have learned in the virtual immersion I hope to continue to be able to hold those sacred stories, seek out more stories from those most impacted by systematic oppression and learn from those working on the ground.

I think back to our Vincentian origins, of St. Louise de Marillac making the brave and unprecedented choice to have the Daughters of Charity not be cloistered, to instead go out in the streets and to be with those affected by oppression. While quarantine has left me feeling hopelessly cloistered, virtual immersion felt like a practice of community that Louise would be proud of.

Lawful Assembly Episode 3: Repair the Breach: Help All in Your Community Be Counted in the 2020 Census

 

This episode is an interview with Rev. Craig B. Mousin founder and former Executive Director of the Midwest Immigrant Rights Center and an Adjunct Faculty member at DePaul University’s College of Law and The Grace School of Applied Diplomacy.  He discusses how the Census, by counting all those residing in the United States every ten years, if done well, helps the nation repair past breaches to our body politic.  In the wake of a pandemic, civic unrest and the long road to healing our nation from the consequences of slavery and racism, the Census offers an opportunity for all of “We the People” to be counted and leading to a fairer representation.  The government will stop counting residents in this Census on September 30, 2020, thus necessitating that we all use our resources to ensure a fair count.  You can go to www.census.gov  for information on how to encourage greater participation.  If you would like to participate in a phone bank sponsored by the Urban League of Chicago on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 to encourage participation in the City of Chicago, you can volunteer by emailing kbutler@chiul.org (Kareem Butler, Director of Learning and Evaluation, Chicago Urban League).  The quotation from Professor Akhill Reed Amar can be found in American’s Constitution, A Biography,” (Random House, N.Y., 2005), 87.  For a description of rotten districts / rotten boroughs  see P.84.

Please share this podcast and links with members of your community or faith organizations, family members and friends.  Encourage them to assist all members of their communities to file their Census form to  generate a fair count of all.  Thank you for your consideration of this request.

 

The Daughters in Tanzania: Working Toward Systemic Change

“The Sisters are women who stand up for women’s and girls’ rights.” – Mary, 15-year-old graduate of the December Rescue Camp, Tanzania, East Africa.1

Last week we invited you to reflect on how charity should be an essential part of transformative action and the vital relational and affective dimension of justice. This week we’ll explore this theme through the example of an initiative of the Daughters of Charity in Tanzania focused on eradicating the practice of female genital mutilation. The Daughters’ unique approach combines ministering to those impacted by this practice, intently listening to their stories, and purposefully integrating their work with signs of the times to advance systemic change.

The Association for the Termination of Female Genital Mutilation (ATFGM) is an organization founded by The Daughters of Charity in Tanzania in 2008. It was created at the request of the local bishop, parents, and girls in the community seeking protection from this practice. The ATFGM runs a “December Rescue Camp” which affords a safe space for girls seeking to escape the practice. And, while such protection meets an immediate critical need, the focus of the camp is equally devoted to education and awareness. During the last decade, more than 2,500 girls have attended.

The Daughters also understand that in moving towards eradicating female genital mutilation, they must take into consideration multidimensional realities such as tradition, social stigma, and the economic implication for practitioners. Thus, beyond ministering directly to the girls, the Daughters work with parents, elders, schools, communities, and practitioners. They also target boys who will become future husbands and fathers. Additionally, they help former practitioners attend a government college to learn entrepreneurship skills, and eventually find work when they have graduated.

The work of the Daughters in Tanzania reminds us once again that the Vincentian approach to justice necessitates addressing immediate need while working toward broader systemic change.

As we think of the work of these Vincentian family members, what resonates with you about their approach? What challenges you? What can we learn from their approach that may inspire our work at DePaul today?


1) Meghan J. Clark, “Charity, Justice, and Development in Practice: A Case Study of the Daughters of Charity in East Africa,” Journal of Moral Theology 9:2 (2020), 11; at: https://jmt.scholasticahq.com/article/‌13334-charity-justice-and-development-in-practice-a-case-study-of-the-daughters-of-charity-in-east-africa

 

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

Episode 2: New Opportunity to Oppose Proposed Regulations Precluding Asylum Eligibility

 

This episode is an interview with Rev. Craig B. Mousin founder and former Executive Director of the Midwest Immigrant Rights Center and an Adjunct Faculty member at DePaul University’s College of Law and The Grace School of Applied Diplomacy. He talks about responding to the federal government’s proposed regulations that would make asylum seekers ineligible for asylum and related remedies based on purported public health considerations.   We encourage you to file your own comments opposing part or all of the proposed procedures and asking the government to withdraw the entire proposed rule.  To assist you in obtaining a link to the proposed procedures or in filing your comment, you may incorporate your remarks into one of the templates provided by the following:

The National Immigrant Justice Center’s template.

If you are concerned about unaccompanied minors or children refugee issues, you can use the Young Center’s template.

Both websites provide additional information on how the proposed regulations restrict access to the courts and prevent bona fide applicants from presenting their cases for asylum.  To be accepted by the government, please make sure your comments are filed on or before 11:59 p.m. EDT, Monday, August 10 2020.

For additional information on the pretext of the public health need for these proposals, see:  https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/new-asylum-ban-recycled-pretext-proposed-rule-would-illegally-unjustly-bar-many-asylum

 

Please share this podcast and links with members of your community or faith organizations, family members and friends.  Encourage them to file comments to help ensure that our nation continues to offer shelter for refugees in need.  Thank you for your consideration of this request.