For many, this week marks the ending of the Christian liturgical season of Lent. As a period of preparation and self-examination, Lent encourages us to intimately, sometimes painfully, confront our own humanity, our shortcomings, our frailties, and our most searching questions. But, always, this personal exploration is meant to be done with a spirit of compassion and understanding that mirrors the love God feels for us. Truly, Lent can be a time of personal and spiritual challenge but equally it can be a time of self-improvement and growth in our relationship with God.
It seems DePaul University itself is also experiencing a moment in our history that resembles the Lenten season. Spurred by budgetary challenges, as an institution we are being asked to scrutinize ourselves with rigorous honesty and courage to determine where changes need to be made. These changes will hopefully guarantee our relevance and sustainability long into the future. The difficult choices to be made will require sacrifice, commitment to the common good, and deep reserves of wisdom if we are to honor our mission and preserve our most distinctive and valuable identity: that of being a Vincentian Catholic university.
As lifelong Catholics, co-founders of what we now call the Vincentian Family, and astute observers of human nature, Vincent and Louise were familiar with the personal challenges of Lent and the systemic challenges of institutional change. Based on the voluminous records left behind, we know they approached the latter with pragmatism, compassion, and faith. They accepted that change—in communities, in responsibilities, in plans—needed to occur for their mission of serving the poor to be effective. But they also taught that these changes, like all decisions, must be inspired by love and guided by that great rule of charity requiring us to do to for each individual that good that we would want them to do to us. As leaders, colleagues, and community members, we must make decisions animated by compassion and bound by ties of friendship and respect.
Underlying every decision Vincent and Louise made was their abiding faith in the providence of God. They had confidence that even amid struggle and uncertainty, God would eventually provide a path forward and the clarity to see this path. In light of this faith, as followers of Vincent and Louise, it is our responsibility to be attentive to the signs of where we are being led and to work tirelessly, with good will and honest effort, toward the worthy purposes given to us.
Today, the signs seem to be pointing DePaul toward a path of strategic change and investment to ensure that we are able to best fulfill our purposes as a Vincentian Catholic university. These changes may require difficult decisions and painful cuts and must be made not only with pragmatism but with love, compassion, respect, and faith. To do any less would be a violation of our mission and a disservice to our community’s heritage and to its future.
At DePaul, when have you observed decisions being made that are grounded in pragmatism, love, and respect? How might you better be able to incorporate these values into your own decision-making?
If you were to scrutinize your own life, your choices, and attitudes, what might you identify as something that needs to change? How would you approach that change? Are you coming from a place of self-love and understanding?
Reflection by: Tom Judge, Assistant Director and Chaplain, Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission and Ministry
 See, for example, these two quotes from Louise de Marillac: “Changes can and must occur. If they are not accepted, we shall never enjoy the peace of soul that is essential,” (Document A66, “(On the Necessity of Accepting Changes),”Spiritual Writings, 813); and “You are well aware that changes are always difficult, and that it takes time to learn new ways of serving the poor skillfully and well,” (Letter 337, “To My Very Dear Sister Cécile Agnès,” December 30, (1651) Spiritual Writings, 385). Available online at https://via.library.depaul.edu/ldm/.
 See Conference 207, “Charity (Common Rules Chap. 2, Art. 12),” May 30, 1659, CCD, 12:217. Available online at https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/36/.