Catholic Character of DePaul


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

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

About Saint Vincent de Paul and DePaul University’s Vincentian, Catholic, and Urban Identity


In this original unpublished essay by Fr. Edward R. Udovic, C.M., we hear a bit of history of the Vincentian Community’s involvement in higher education in the United States.  There is also a reflection on Vincent de Paul and his character as values-based, honoring diversity, willing to take risks, innovative, pragmatic, and intimately involved with the people in his urban community of Paris, especially the poor.  Vincent and his followers were committed to serving the needs of their poor.  They were interested in making a difference in people’s lives.

In the context of today’s world, the efforts of DePaul University’s faculty and staff are aimed at providing an education to its traditional students from marginalized communities to help in supporting a change in the well-being of those generations to come.  Serving the multi-cultural, religiously diverse student, staff, faculty, and alumni community the University continues to foster social engagement within the urban community of Chicago and, through its alumni, the communities of the world.  From “Little college under the ‘L'” to the largest Catholic University in the country, DePaul University continues its history of values-driven service, innovative programming, pragmatic activity deeply connected to the world.