2024 Foundation Day: The Shared Coin

On January 25 in celebration of Foundation Day, a new edition of The Shared Coin was released.  This tradition is an invitation for all DePaul students, faculty and staff to celebrate individuals living DePaul’s Vincentian mission by sharing a coin with them. Along with the coin, givers are encouraged to personalize this experience by using the back of the card given out with each coin to write a message to the individual they are acknowledging.

This is a special way to tell someone else, “I see you! I see DePaul’s mission and the Vincentian spirit within you.  That light is radiating out to me. Thank you.  I think it is important that I acknowledge you.” It’s an opportunity for everyone in the community to pause, look around, and recognize the many gifts at DePaul.  

The Shared Coin is modeled after Vincent’s metaphor of the scarred coin, which represented the individuals he served, their inherent dignity, and the investment he made in honoring and uplifting that dignity. 

The 2024 edition of the Shared Coin uplifts a quote by St. Louise de Marillac to celebrate the 400th anniversary of her lumiere experience. On June 4, 1623, Louise de Marillac, filled with doubts and anxiety about her life, entered the Church of Saint Nicholas-des-Champs in Paris. As a young wife with a child and a sick husband, she prayed for her future. Something extraordinary happened there. She experienced a moment of light that changed her life and filled her with a trust that there was a plan for her life. She was freed from her anxiety and doubts and received inner peace. Louise’s “lumiere” experience is an invitation for all of us to root ourselves in trust and to hold on to the light within and around us.

Everyone within the DePaul community is encouraged to integrate this tradition across campus, whether through weekly meetings, gatherings or one-on-one settings. Recipients often feel grateful for the recognition of their good work and their commitment to DePaul’s mission. 

Coin recipients may elect to keep it or may choose to pass it on when they see someone else living the mission in a meaningful way. Any DePaul student, faculty or staff member can go to one of our distribution locations and pick up coins to share with a person or several people they witness living DePaul’s mission. Coins are available on a first come, first-served basis. They are available in limited quantities and once depleted, they will not be available until the following year.  You may pick up coins at the following locations: 

Lincoln Park Location
Division of Mission and Ministry
Student Center, Suite 311
10-4 PM, Monday through Friday 

Loop Location
DePaul Center 125, Loop Life Office
10AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Division of Mission and Ministry - by request
14 E. Jackson, Suite 800  

For more information on this tradition, visit go.depaul.edu/sharedcoin

“Encourage one another and may your mutual good example speak louder than any words can.” St. Louise de Marillac

Creating a Community of Care

Mother Teresa once suggested that the world is hurting because “we have forgotten that we belong to one another.”[1] It occurs to me that whenever we have an opportunity to remember we are part of the same human family, and to respond to one another with love, the best of our shared humanity is revealed.

There is a lot of talk today about the importance of self-care. Indeed, a billion-dollar industry has emerged around this concept with self-help books, spas, life coaches, spiritualities, and myriad lotions and potions to address every kind of ailment that one could ever possibly imagine.

Without a doubt, self-care is important. To thrive as humans, we must tend to our physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs. A balanced life is something we all deserve, and we owe it to ourselves to strive to attain this. Moreover, it is essential if we wish to function to the best of our ability.

Judging from his letters, Saint Vincent de Paul would probably have agreed with this advice. He certainly encouraged his confreres and friends to find balance in their day-to-day lives and to take care of their health, “I ask you once again to work a little less and take care of yourself.”[2] Furthermore, he believed that healthy habits and behaviors were integral to realizing one’s purpose. In the name of Our Lord, Monsieur, do all you can to regain your health and take good care of it so that you can serve God and the poor for a longer time.[3]

At the same time, Vincent was also keenly aware that one cannot hope to grow spiritually if one’s focus remains within. As all the major world religions emphasize, a life well-lived requires us to listen deeply and respond to the voices that cry out from the wilderness, the margins of society. The Abrahamic traditions echo this message by urging us to care for the most vulnerable, namely, the “widows, orphans and strangers.” Taking care of those who are poor and marginalized is likewise firmly rooted at the very heart of Vincentian spirituality and DePaul University’s mission.

Additionally, Vincent believed that when he was in relationship with those on the margins, he most fully encountered Jesus Christ. Grounded in an incarnational faith, any opportunity to be of service to those in need allowed Vincent to enter more deeply into communion with God.

I have to love my neighbor as the image of God and the object of His Love, and to act in such a way that people, in their turn, love their Creator, who knows them and acknowledges them as His brothers [and sisters], whom He has saved, and that by mutual charity they love one another for love of God, who has loved them so much as to hand over His own Son to death for them.[4]

In centering the dignity and worth of each person to whom he ministered, Vincent was able to see that person as a brother or a sister in Christ rather than simply someone who was asking for help. This positionality enabled Vincent to relate to the person with mindfulness and presence, and to experience a level of kinship with them as he might a friend or family member.

To be a Christian and to see our brother [or sister] suffering without weeping with [them], without being sick with [them]! That’s to be lacking in charity; it’s being a caricature of a Christian; it’s inhuman; it’s to be worse than animals.[5]

Thus, charity became real for Vincent by entering into relationships with people whose names and real-life circumstances he knew. Such meaningful connections with “kinsfolk” ensured that care for those on the margins was never an abstract ideal based on an erudite theology. Instead, it was a lived response to a call he felt deep within to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. Vincent answered this call through concrete actions to love and care for the most vulnerable. His journey represented a spiritual, ethical, and inclusive path. A path, which would never let him forget the essential truth that we belong to each other.

For reflection

  1. How do I find balance between responsibility to self and responsibility to others?
  2. How have you benefited from being part of a community of care at DePaul?
  3. What elements are integral to creating a sense of belonging in the workplace? How can these be created and sustained at DePaul?

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

[1] “Mother Teresa Reflects on Working Toward Peace,” see: https://www.scu.edu/mcae/architects-of-peace/Teresa/essay.html.

[2] Letter 1988, To Edme Jolly, Superior, in Rome, 7 January 1656, CCD, 5:506. Available at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.edu/coste_en/

[3] Letter 343, To Bernard Codoing, in Richilieu, 29 August 1638, Ibid., 1:491.

[4] Conference 207, Charity (Common Rules, Chap. II, Art. 12), 30 May 1659, Ibid., 12:215.

[5] Ibid., 12:222.

 

Inspiration for Sincere Dialogue in Difficult Times

Martin Luther King, Jr., meets with President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Public Domain

“We live at a time when the world is full of violence, oppression and conflict.” “We live in a time of deep division in our own country.” Perhaps both these statements are true of many times, maybe even all times, but they are certainly true of this one. The communication technologies of our period also can serve to make these realities seem closer to us or harder for many of us to escape, even if we’d like to.

One of the reasons we honor and celebrate certain special individuals is because we hope that in their lives, we can find wisdom and inspiration for our own times. In the span of a few weeks at the beginning of the year, we mark the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the celebration of Foundation Day (the commemoration of the start of the Vincentian Mission), and the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. So much could be said about each of these days and the men and the movements they commemorate. Today, let’s consider what they might suggest to us about relationship and dialogue in difficult times.

In reading the highly acclaimed new biography of Dr. King by Jonathan Eig (who happens to live near DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus), I was struck by King’s relationship with President Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson reached out to King three days after the assassination of President Kennedy seeking his assistance.[1] Johnson was a highly skilled political operator and said he was committed to civil rights but he knew he needed the help of King, who was then at the height of his mainstream popularity and success. They remained in close contact although neither publicized their dialogue, and both were wary of the other. (In fact, both knew that elements of the federal government were spying on King and seeking to destroy him.) King wept after watching Johnson’s powerful address to Congress after the civil rights movement was met with violence in Selma (and after Johnson had met in the White House with Alabama’s segregationist governor George Wallace).[2] The address called Congress and the nation to pass the Voting Rights Act. Despite what they were able to accomplish in this arena, as Johnson continued to escalate the Vietnam War, King would not remain silent, despite the advice of many who considered themselves his allies in the movement.[3]

In his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” King stressed the importance of dialogue and negotiations (along with research to identify injustices and to engage in self-purification). Yet King rejected the idea that direct action was in opposition to dialogue and negotiations. King argued that while destructive violence must always be opposed, the constructive tension created by nonviolent direct action was often necessary to force those in power to engage in dialogue and negotiations with the marginalized. King said that while he initially disliked being the label of extremist, he now embraced the need for “creative extremists” for love, truth, and justice.[4]

While the time and place of Vincent was not one of direct action or of democracy, I would argue that Vincent and the organizations he founded relied not only on service, but also on creative calls through words and actions for those in power to accept their responsibility for those on the margins. The call for the powerful in France to live up to the Christian example and not ignore those in poverty stood in stark contrast to the injustices of French society. When Vincent was transformed from a smart young man who was motivated to make a better life for himself to one utterly committed to serving God and those living in poverty, he did not cut off relationships with the elite and powerful in society. Instead, he continued to cultivate them with the aim of using those relationships to fulfill his mission.

I have also been reading a compelling recent book on Abraham Lincoln by NPR’s Steve Inskeep.[5] While Lincoln, like King, is remembered for his powerful oratory, this book focuses on Lincoln’s relationships and dialogues. Each chapter focuses on a different account of encounters between Lincoln and another person who came from a different background than him and with whom he had a significant disagreement. What stands out in each encounter is Lincoln’s willingness to engage with those with whom he disagreed. The results of the dialogue were rarely about one convincing the other, but Lincoln used the dialogues to understand others better. He was a quintessential politician and believer in democracy, and he could use his understanding of the others’ interests to define priorities and create coalitions to accomplish his most important goals. Although as a politician Lincoln would often choose to remain strategically silent as part of this process, Inskeep’s book takes its title from something Lincoln wrote in a letter to his close friend Joshua Speed. Speed came from a slaveholding family and Lincoln “chided [him] for admitting the “abstract wrong” of slavery but failing to act accordingly.”[6] Still, Lincoln remained in relationship with Speed, signing off the letter with “your friend forever.”[7]

We all have different roles to play in life and in the university. Just as the roles and perspectives of a prophetic preacher leading a movement for social change, a politician in an era of civil war, and a saintly founder of a religious order in an absolute monarchy may differ greatly, we may see our own roles differently based on our positions, personalities, or other commitments. I see in each of these examples a call to remain in dialogue and relationship with others, even those with whom I may have profound differences or disagreements. I have seen a call to sincerity in that dialogue which means a willingness to express difficult truths and to listen to them. Finally, I appreciate the role that constructive, creative tension can play in individual and communal transformation when we are willing to channel that tension into dialogue and negotiation.

I am inspired by the people and spaces in the university that help form students to engage in these types of difficult, sincere ongoing dialogues. Among those with which I am most familiar are the Interfaith Scholars program and the Grace School of Applied Diplomacy, but I know there are many others. What are the ways in which you think DePaul engages these questions best and what are ways in which we might be able to do better?


REFLECTION BY: Abdul-Malik Ryan, Muslim Chaplain and Assistant Director, Office of Religious Diversity, Division of Mission and Ministry.

[1] Jonathan Eig, King: A Life (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023), 351.

[2] Ibid., 435.

[3] Ibid., 514–30.

[4] See Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” August 1963, https://www.csuchico.edu/iege/_assets/documents/susi-letter-from-birmingham-jail.pdf.

[5] Steve Inskeep, Differ We Must: How Lincoln Succeeded in a Divided America (New York: Penguin Press, 2023).

[6] Ibid., xiv-xv.

[7] Ibid., xv.

Entering into the Heart of Another

Another effect of charity is to rejoice with those who rejoice. It causes us to enter into their joy.” – Vincent de Paul [1]

Recently, I spent time in the bleachers of Sullivan Athletic Center, cheering on our women’s volleyball team as they faced the Huskies of Northern Illinois. Though I don’t really understand the finer points of the game, I love the intensity, pace, and athletic prowess that are fundamental to volleyball. And, I have tremendous admiration for the competitiveness and teamwork that are so critical to any sport at the elite collegiate level.

There is something else I love about volleyball: the behavior of the players on the court after each point. In those moments, if DePaul wins the rally with a spike or block or great serve, the players quickly gather in something resembling a group hug, rejoicing with the one who made the winning play and celebrating the moment before resuming the set. If DePaul loses the point, the response is very similar— a brief group huddle that is not celebratory but instead seems to communicate support to the player who may have missed a shot and also helps the team refocus for the next point. In both scenarios, despite the different outcomes, players are empathizing with one another. In those few moments, they are strengthening their bonds as teammates and pushing themselves to work together to win the next point and, ultimately, the match.

This simple demonstration of unity and devotion by our volleyball players seems to resonate with the quote that inspired today’s reflection. In the conference from which this quote is taken, Vincent de Paul is addressing members of the still-developing Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentian priests). He is urging them, for the sake of their mission’s ultimate success and sustainability, to ground their communities in virtue, particularly the virtue of charity (or what we might call today love). Vincent believed that the presence of a generous amount of charity within a community would lead to its members being able to “enter in” to the hearts of one another, to rejoice with those members who rejoice and grieve with those who are saddened. In other words, charity would create a community where there is genuine empathy, ever-present support, and abundant compassion among its members for one another.

When I have the privilege of visiting with university colleagues and learning what they value most about being at DePaul, their answers are almost always animated by their gratitude for our community. They speak of the affection they feel for treasured coworkers who are also good friends, the admiration they have for talented colleagues who diligently work on behalf of students, the enjoyment they take at campus-wide events that unite us in celebration, ritual or, simply, fun. On a large-scale and in small, personal ways—and even on a volleyball court—evidence abounds that DePaul, at its best, is a living example of the community grounded in love that Vincent de Paul set out to establish.

But, being a place where the lived norms are empathy, support, and compassion is not easy to achieve or maintain, nor does it automatically result from having a Vincentian identity. To be a community of charity needs to be made a priority both institutionally and individually. Then, it must be backed up by commitment, hard work, humility, equity, shared goals, cordial relationships, placing the good of the whole over that of the individual, and so forth. Although the challenges are real, DePaul has a history of being this type of loving community and a mission that supports this going forward.

Reflection Questions:

  • Are there people you know at DePaul who have recently accomplished something of note or celebrated a joyful experience? Or, alternatively, suffered a loss or are going through a particular struggle?  Consider reaching out to these people to offer congratulations and celebration or support and sympathy.
  • Where have you witnessed examples – either large or small – of empathy, support or compassion that help to make DePaul a more caring community? How might you be called to contribute to or build upon these examples?

Reflection by: Tom Judge, Assistant Director and Chaplain, Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission and Ministry

[1] Conference 207, “Charity (Common Rules, Chap. II, Art. 12),” May 30, 1659, CCD, 12:222. Available online at https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/36/.

Our Mission Needs a Community

What a blessing to be a member of a Community because each individual shares in the good that is done by all!”[1]

I have been thinking a lot lately about communitywhat it means, what it looks like, and why it is so essential to us as human beings and as a university, especially in our current context. Looking back on past Mission Monday reflections, it is clearly not the first time I have felt this to be important to identify as an essential focus for an organization like ours that seeks to embody the Vincentian name.

Yet, there are many reasons for the need to re-emphasize the importance of community at this time:

  • the ongoing changes we are moving through as a university community, including the loss of many longtime friends and colleagues;
  • the marked increase in colleagues working from home since the pandemic;
  • the concurrent loss of regular face-to-face interactions in common spaces;
  • the larger cultural divisions and inequities in our society that only linger if not addressed directly;
  • the growing tendency among many to connect with each other and to learn only or primarily via computer or smartphone; and
  • recent public reporting on the rise and deleterious impact of loneliness in U.S. society.

Each of these changes—and there are clearly others—has recently had drastic effects on workplace norms and workplace culture within the patterns of our lives and relationships at DePaul.

Perhaps this draw to focus again on the importance of community also simply reflects my own experience and ongoing hunger for human connection, to feel a sense of belonging, and to participate in something more beyond the daily tasks of my individual work.

Regardless of the source of my musings, I am certain I am not alone. The experience of being part of a community is important for the well-being of humanity and for the flourishing of our workplaces, including and especially our university. Furthermore, here at DePaul, many rightly appreciate the experience of community as being “very Vincentian.”

In fact, how we sustain and continue to build a vibrant communal life is one of the vital, open questions facing us today. Over my eighteen years at DePaul, I believe the intentional work and effort of building community, and the need for it, has never been more important and more at risk. As we look ahead to the summer and the coming academic year, it is essential that we continue to weave and re-weave with great intention and care the fabric of our communal life if our Vincentian mission is to be effective and sustained over time.

I am fond of imagining Vincent de Paul in Folleville, France, in 1617 and what must have been going through his mind at that time. Based on his own retrospective reflections, that particular year and place seemed to represent an important moment in his life, a moment when, with the help of Madame de Gondi, Vincent arrived at a clearer vision of his own calling and the mission that God had entrusted to him.

The year 1617 was the final feather falling on the scales that tipped the orientation of Vincent’s life in a markedly different way. The upwardly mobile and aspirational priest, often rubbing elbows with the rich and powerful, began to focus his energies more and more toward a mission of service to and with society’s poor and marginalized for the remainder of his life. What he realized at that same time is that the mission God had entrusted to him was much bigger than he alone could fulfill. He needed others. In fact, Vincent’s effectiveness grew largely through the work of inspiring and organizing others to work in common to fulfill a shared mission. From the beginning, the Vincentian mission has been a collaborative and communal enterprise.

Simple in its genius, Vincent’s efforts anticipated current day organizational management insights by 400 years. The contemporary organizational and business writer and consultant Christine Porath, for example, has written extensively on how community is the key to companies moving from merely surviving to thriving together.[2] Simply put, her research suggests that when people experience a strong sense of community and belonging at work, they are more engaged, effective, healthy, and creative. This, in turn, leads to positive business outcomes. Many other organizational and business leaders have come to similar conclusions. It turns out that how we relate to each other as a community in the workplace, in fact, matters a great deal.

At DePaul, we speak often of being “a community gathered together for the sake of the mission.” We recognize and must remember that we need each other to thrive. Faculty, staff, administration, students, board members, alumni and donors work together effectively for a shared mission. Furthermore, as Vincent de Paul suggests, we each benefit from the good done by all. At our best, when we are flourishing as a community, we help, encourage, care for, collaborate with, and inspire one another. There is an energizing and vibrant unity that comes in our diversity—the unity of a shared mission to which each person contributes a part. This occurs only through ongoing intentionality and thoughtful daily interactions and efforts to build and sustain healthy and vibrant relationships with one another.

As we move into the summer months, through the many changes we are facing together, and into the new academic year this fall—this is your charge: How will you contribute to sustaining and building a vibrant and healthy sense of community together with your DePaul colleagues?

Submit your own recommendations as a response to this blog post or follow our Mission and Ministry LinkedIn group, which we will begin to use more often in the future as a place to share reflections on the workplace in light of anticipated changes with DePaul Newsline in the summer and the coming year. Perhaps by the time a new academic year begins, we can initiate some new efforts to weave or re-weave the fabric of our communal life and work intentionally toward thriving as “a community gathered together for the sake of the mission,” just as Vincent de Paul first envisioned.


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

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

[2] See: Christine Porath, Mastering Community: The Surprising Ways Coming Together Moves us from Surviving to Thriving (New York: Balance Books, 2022); and C.M. Pearson and C.L. Porath, The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It (New York: Portfolio, 2009).

The Bane of Communities—and its Remedies

Dorothy Day beautifully captured the spiritual journey of many when she wrote, “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”[1] Our Vincentian legacy was pioneered by people who created communities of both religious and laypeople dedicated to noble missions. We have encouraged the DePaul community to see itself as a community gathered together for the sake of our mission.

Yet we have probably found that other stuff comes with community too, and not only good things. We find numerous examples in the letters of Saint Vincent where he advised people, often superiors of different Vincentian communities, about handling the mundane problems of community life. In one such letter, Vincent observed “The bane of Communities, especially small ones, is usually rivalry; the remedy is humility.”[2] Vincent also advised his confreres of his own struggles with anger and being short tempered.[3] While Vincent was probably being especially hard on himself to prove a point, in his remarks and in his writings, he convinces us he is no stranger to the experience of being annoyed by people. In our time, when we are used to dashing off a text or calling someone in times of frustration, it is remarkable to contemplate writing a letter in frustration and having to wait for a reply!

In response to such difficulties, Vincent consistently recommended two of the central Vincentian virtues, gentleness and humility.[4] Vincent often used the example of Jesus[5] to counsel forbearance in human relationships. “I can well believe what you write me about M … but I ask you to bear with him as our Lord bore with His disciples, who gave him good reason to complain–at least some of them did. Yet, He allowed them to remain in His company and tried to bring them gently.”[6] One finds a similar call in the Qur’an describing the character of the Prophet Muhammad[7] with his companions, “By an act of Mercy from God, you were gentle in your dealings with them—had you been harsh, or hard-hearted, they would have dispersed and left you.”[8] Vincent saw the reality that human relationships are often difficult and that conflict among personalities not only makes life less enjoyable but prevents important tasks from getting done, leaving those who are vulnerable to suffer. Yet Vincent also believed in the power of gentleness and humility, especially from leadership, to win over hearts.

In a letter to a sister, Vincent began poetically: “I received two letters from you, which consoled me because they are your letters, but distressed me when I saw, on the one hand, that your Sister is not well, and on the other, that there is some slight misunderstanding between you. I ask His Divine Goodness to remedy both of these. The latter situation distresses me more because it seems to disrupt charity, of which forbearance is one of its principal acts; it is difficult for two persons to get along without it.” But Vincent was confident in the power of virtuous behavior, along with prayer, in such relationships: “[T]he virtue of humility is a good remedy for such antipathies because it makes those who practice it lovable.”[9] Vincent’s advice to those in leadership consistently makes clear that while verbal reminders may sometimes be part of their role, setting a powerful example of such virtues is most effective.

Reflection Questions: What are some personal relationships in your work that you can sometimes find difficult? What are practices you can engage in or foster for others that allow people to bring their best, most gentle, and humble selves to their work?


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

[1] “The Final Word Is Love,” The Catholic Worker, May 1980, 4. Available online at: https://‌www.‌catholicworker.‌org/‌dorothyday/articles/867.html.  Also included in the postscript to Day’s autobiography The Long Loneliness.

[2] Letter 2037, “To Louis DuPont, Superior, in Treguier,” March 26, 1656, CCD, 5:582. Available online at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/30/.

[3] Conference 202, “Gentleness (Common Rules, Chap. 2, Art. 6),” March 28, 1659, CCD, 12:151. Available online at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/36/.

[4] See Robert P. Maloney, C.M., “A Further Look at ‘Gentleness,’” Vincentiana 39:4 (1995). Maloney explores the various meanings with which Vincent uses the term gentleness (French douceur). See: Gentleness article.

[5] Peace be upon him!

[6] Letter 1676, “To Mark Cogley, Superior, in Sedan,” November 5, 1653, CCD, 5:47.

[7] Peace be upon him!

[8] Qur’an 3:159 tr. M.A.S. Abdel Haleem. Note: For Muslims this example is especially powerful as they consider the companions of the Prophet to have been very righteous, yet, they would have run away if not treated gently, a similar point to that made by Vincent in talking about the disciples of Jesus.

[9] Letter 2110, “To Sister Charlotte Royer, Sister Servant, in Richelieu,” July 26, 1656, CCD, 6:50. Available online at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/31/.


Submit names of loved ones lost over the past year and join us for the Annual Gathering of Remembrance:

The DePaul community is invited to join the Division of Mission and Ministry for our annual Gathering of Remembrance, an interfaith memorial service for all community members who have lost loved ones over the past year. This service in Cortelyou Commons (and broadcast over Zoom) on November 17 invites us to stand together in mutual support and solidarity with our colleagues as the calendar year draws to its close.

We invite the entire DePaul community to please submit the names of loved ones for remembrance by the end of Thursday, November 10th so that they can be included in the service. If you know of anyone who has lost a loved one over the last year, please share this announcement. We want to honor their memory. All are invited to join us as we celebrate their memory.

Learn more at: https://gathering-of-remembrance.eventbrite.com

Disagreement without Disparagement

“Never speak disparagingly of those who have contrary opinions.” — Vincent de Paul (CCD, 7:240)

This little piece of counsel from Vincent is certainly tough to apply these days, given our often-polemical public discourse. However, there is certainly some wisdom to be found in his words. Speaking disparagingly of another will rarely lead to any insight or transformation on their part. Rather, such an attack will likely lead to deeper defensiveness and resistance. While a disparaging comment might selfishly bring us a moment of proud satisfaction, it is rarely a means to achieve our ultimate end-goal of a human community that reflects justice and love.

How might we shift our perspective when dealing with others whose contrary opinions or actions stir intense feelings in us? It may be as simple as pausing for a moment of self-reflection before speaking or posting a comment on social media. Even with just a few deep breaths, our anger or bitter emotions can subside somewhat, at least enough to enable us to think more clearly about our objectives. We might even find that the deeper source of our judgment lies within our own psychological projections and anxieties. Or, perhaps we might learn to approach others whose perspectives differ from our own with love. Such a shift can enable us to recognize the ways in which a person is often a reflection of their life experiences, environments, and relationships. Our thoughts and feelings may also change when we realize our own complicity in social, economic, or political systems that have affected the other person – and then we can move our attention and energy towards transforming these systems.

Whatever may be called for in any particular situation, we benefit from Vincent’s wisdom. He seemed to understand that change occurs more often through the power of relationships than through the imagined brilliance of our arguments or the sharpness of our critiques. Which people do you find it most difficult to approach with love and understanding? How might approaching them with a more charitable view, as Vincent might suggest, shift your perspective?


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

Honoring Those Who Have Shaped Us

“I embrace your heart and your family with all the tenderness of my heart.” — St. Vincent de Paul

Vincent de Paul wrote this line to Louis Dupont in 1659. The quote is unique in that Vincent does not express kindness solely to Louis, but extends it to his family as well. For most people we encounter, we act as the bridge between them, our family, and our friends. To know those closest to us is to know our greatest support systems, and to encounter our friends and family is to gain insight into how we became the people we are today.

In our world today, what are some ways we can be intentional in honoring our relationships with those closest to us?

Every culture, person, community, etc. may have a different answer. With the end of October quickly approaching, one example can be found in Dia de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead.” No, not Halloween, or even a sad holiday. This is a celebration existing in different forms throughout Latin America, and is a time when the relationships we hold closest to our hearts are remembered. Typically, for Dia de los Muertos, a colorful ofrenda (or “altar”) is made by family and or friends to honor their departed loved ones. This ofrenda is set up on October 31 and remains until November 2, All Souls Day. This year around the university, you may wish to contribute names or photos of any loved ones to community ofrendas. They will be everywhere, from the residence halls to the 11th floor of the DePaul Center. (If you have questions or want to get involved contact Tepeyac, the student organization, at depaul.tepeyac@gmail.com)

An ofrenda is just one way to express kindness and honor to those who played a role in shaping us. Take some time to reflect on what makes the most sense for you.

What actions make you feel closest to your family or friends, both those on this earth, and those who have passed away?

Reflection by:

Joshua Smyser-DeLeon, Assistant Director, Alumni Relations

DePaul’s annual Gathering of Remembrance event will be held this year on Thursday, November 14th, at 4:30 p.m. in Cortelyou Commons, Lincoln Park Campus. Should you have names of loved ones you would like to be remembered, and/or if you would like to RSVP to attend the event, more information can be found here: http://events.depaul.edu/event/depaul_gathering_of_remembrance#.XbBf3mZOm70

Being Fully Present

“I would truly like to know how you really are.”

Take a moment to remember how many times you have greeted somebody over the last day. How many times have you asked the question, “How are you?”

In our fast-paced society, it is easy for this question to get lost in the flurry as we respond with a simple “fine.” In their written correspondence, we can see that Louise and Vincent paused to check in on one another. In one letter, as she was inquiring about Vincent’s health, Louise wrote, “I would truly like to know how you really are.”

Showing care and interest in the well-being of one another is at the heart of Vincentian personalism. When we take time to be present to those around us and hear how they are really doing, we honor their dignity and personhood.

How can you take time today to be truly present to those in your life – whether in your workplace, local community or family?

 

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

Citation:
Letter 649. Monsieur Vincent. January 4, 1660. Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, page 671.

Vincent and Louise: A Model for Teamwork

When Louise de Marillac first discovered that Vincent de Paul had been assigned to be her new spiritual director, she stated, “It was repugnant for me to accept him.” While it is hard to know exactly what was behind Louise’s sentiments, it is clear that she was not pleased by the idea of working together with this Gascon peasant. However, as time went on, Vincent and Louise developed a deep and effective collaboration that would transform service to the poor and marginalized in seventeenth-century France and beyond. From a less than promising start, their friendship lasted 35 years, and their work together created a living legacy of which we are all part.

Think back to an instance when your initial perception of a work relationship changed over time. What did you learn from this experience?


A.2, Light, in Louise de Marillac, et al., Spiritual Writings of Louise De Marillac: Correspondence and Thoughts (New City Press, 1991), 1.