At the Heart of Our Mission

Recently, I was asked, “What is at the heart of DePaul and its mission?” After a brief pause, I responded that, for me, what best captures the heart of our mission is the concept frequently referenced here: Vincentian personalism.

In my thinking and experience, Vincentian personalism is the foundational building block for all else that we understand our Vincentian mission to be about as an institution. However, as frequently as the term is used, I believe it requires further explanation and nuance if it is to be understood in its fullness. So, bear with me. As this is the last regular Mission Monday for the academic year, I hope you will permit me a longer reflection on this topic … you do have all summer to read it!

I put Vincentian personalism at the heart of our mission because I clearly see its vital relationship to all of mission’s dimensions that so many care about. For example, I can see how the following flow from and are sustained by Vincentian personalism: effective education, caring and inclusive community, collaboration, service, social and environmental justice, systemic change, and sustainability.

On its own accord and most simply, Vincentian personalism involves recognizing and caring for the unique personhood and sacred dignity of the other. In the concrete and everyday realities of our life and work, it demands that the person before us be treated respectfully, even reverently. It is about affirming their unique personhood and vocation, understanding their story, and appreciating the way they contribute to our community and world through who they are and what they do. From our Vincentian perspective, the idea of “radical hospitality” naturally stems from a focus on Vincentian personalism, as does our understanding of inclusive community and the roots of our work around diversity and equity. We are distinguished in our Vincentian mission by creating and sustaining a culture of care for each other, first and foremost. All else grows from this foundation.

While Vincent de Paul didn’t use the term, at DePaul University we trace the concept of Vincentian personalism back to his recognition of the sacred dignity of those who were poor and abandoned and to his faith-inspired belief that they deserved to be treated honorably and with great care. As practiced by Vincent, personalism requires attending to the obstacles that prevent a person from flourishing and that prevent their God-given potential from being realized. Barriers may be systemic at the societal level, but they may also be intra- or interpersonal in nature. Therefore, Vincent’s example of personalism included attending to the spiritual and physical needs of those he sought to accompany and recognizing and affirming their unique personhood.

Theologically, from a Vincentian Catholic perspective, this commitment is rooted in modeling God’s love, the love of Jesus, and the work and movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives. God always invites us into a way of being which fosters and embodies loving and life-giving relationships and systems, and that heals and restores relationships that are broken, hurting, or causing harm.

History suggests that the concept of Vincentian personalism was first coined at DePaul by a Jewish member of our community, Howard Sulkin, founding dean of DePaul’s School of New Learning (now the School of Continuing and Professional Studies). In trying to capture the heart of the Vincentian mission through his Jewish lens and experience, Sulkin connected Vincentian personalism to an I-Thou relationship, a concept developed by renowned philosopher Martin Buber. Buber contrasted an I-Thou relationship with an I-it relationship, or one which merely objectifies others rather than honoring their distinctiveness and dignity. Interestingly, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., also grounded his own philosophy in personalism, apparently deriving it in a substantial way from Buber.

COVID and the work-from-home realities emerging since 2020 have made cultivating relationships in the workplace more challenging, and therefore, we have learned we must be more intentional in attending to them. Human connection and the business outcomes of effective relationships are still as valid and as needed as ever. When Vincentian personalism is remembered and reinforced at DePaul in how we go about our work and our relationships with one another, it is deeply impactful in terms of the quality of the workplace and the effectiveness of our work.

When Vincentian personalism remains primary, our relationships with one another are more likely to be loving, life-giving, and joyful. We remember that we are ultimately a community of human beings seeking to do something meaningful and good together, and that we are dependent on each other to do so. Our work involves actively and intentionally creating environments and ways of operating that affirm, support, and at times, challenge each other to be our best. With Vincentian personalism, we recognize our capacity for compassion for those who struggle, who feel on the outside, or who need additional encouragement or assistance.

Vincentian personalism most frequently plays out in small ways and in regular practices that help us to remember and reinforce the centrality of relationships in our lives. It may be practiced in how we greet one another, by thoughtfully remembering to check in with those who may be struggling, or caring enough to ask them about their needs and hopes. It may come in building regular time and space within our teams and among our colleagues to stay caught up on the goings-on of each other’s lives and work projects, or for moments of deeper personal reflection and sharing. Or perhaps, it may mean that advising or managerial sessions go beyond the surface level to also include a recognition of the other’s unique personhood and their deeper sense of vocation in relation to their academic choices or career pursuits.

Vincentian personalism also involves a commitment to look deeper, beneath statistics and headlines to the nuances of individual human lives and stories, or to look systemically to find ways of operating that serve the needs of those who are often excluded. It invites us to actively collaborate with others in meaningful ways, rather than go it alone. It might surface in holding one another accountable to agreed-upon expectations, whether for a class or job. For us, Vincentian personalism means acknowledging that everyone is a whole person living a whole life, and that their time at DePaul is just one part of that larger whole.

Here at DePaul, the heart of our mission is centered in Vincentian personalism. If you’d like to learn more about it, there are many past reflections on Vincentian personalism on our Way of Wisdom blog site. (It’s been a popular theme over the years.) For a summer reading list on the topic, you might also try entering other related terms into the search box on the site, such as relationships, community, care, or charity. (Or just explore your own themes of interest.)

Now, let’s put the question to you to ponder over the summer: What do you think is at the heart of DePaul and our Vincentian mission? [If you’d like to write a blog post detailing your answer this summer, let me know! 😊]

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

Pausing and Acting

I recall someone coming to me years ago and sharing the laments of their heart. They had spent long, excruciating months dealing with one tragedy after another. They were broken, devastated, and exhausted. And then, in the midst of their pain, I had the audacity to say, “I’ll pray for you … It’s the least I can do.” I heard myself say those words and was shocked! After all of that pain sharing, I wanted to offer my least? And what does it say about caring for others if prayer is the least we can offer?

That was one of the epiphanies I had as a young pastor that changed my entire attitude toward prayer. It is a great gift that moves one toward action.

The work of Saints Vincent and Louise, and Vincentians through the ages, has been grounded in prayer. Consider that, like Vincent, time and again Louise urged her own community to “pray to the divine … for one another that His mercy may pour out on us His blessings of grace and light.”[1]

This tradition of prayer continues at DePaul University today. The Division of Mission and Ministry constantly encourages prayer as well as reflection and meditation. These are all tools that encourage us to dig more deeply into our souls as we seek clarity, grounding, peace, and wholeness, especially in difficult times.

After months of our own difficulties and brokenness caused by a pandemic and life in general, we are reminded by our Vincentian community to pause and find moments of prayer or meditation. Today we are encouraged to offer our best to ourselves and others by entering into contemplative moments with the self or the divine, hopefully finding inspiration to move such holy conversations into a call for action. Perhaps the best we can offer is a moment of quiet and reflection in our own lives followed by a moment of service and caring for others who, like us, are devastated by many long and difficult months. As this year continues, with so many uncertainties unfolding, may we all be inspired to pause for prayer, reflection, or meditation and then move forward in acts of love and kindness toward one another.

Reflection by: Rev. Dr. Diane Dardón, Director, Office of Religious Diversity and Pastoral Care, Division of Mission and Ministry

[1] L. 217, “To My Very Dear Sister Anne Hardemont,” August 29 [1648], Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, 261. Available at:


Interested in more faith-sharing and reflection? During Lent this year, the Division of Mission and Ministry will be facilitating weekly online faith-sharing groups for faculty and staff. Every week, we will provide a Vincentian reflection that focuses on a theme from that week’s Christian liturgical readings. We will then gather in community over Zoom to share, reflect, and discern together where our Lenten paths may be leading us with Vincent as our guide. Learn more and register here.

What Would Vincent Say about My Performance Appraisal?

This week I received an e-mail reminding me that my annual DePaul Performance Appraisal is due soon. Quite honestly, this email is never one that fills my heart with joy. It triggers familiar and frustrating thoughts I would rather avoid. “How can I possibly capture a year’s worth of toil and effort in an electronic template?” “Be honest, Tom, have you really been doing your best work lately anyway?” “Performance Appraisals, Teacher Evaluations, Annual Assessments…why are we always being judged?!”

Fortunately, before dwelling too long on these self-defeating thoughts, I received another e-mail from a colleague. It contained, serendipitously, a quote from Vincent de Paul: “God is satisfied with our good will and honest efforts.”1

God is satisfied with my good will and honest efforts. Huh. Really? That’s all? My good will and honest efforts? Not that those are always easy for me to produce, but at least I can wrap my head around the concept. I usually have an idea when my attitude may be lacking, or my efforts failing, and I can work to correct this.

Vincent, in collaboration with others, oversaw a large network of organizations and services. However, neither he nor his great colleague, Louise de Marillac, seemed to lose sight of their own humanity. Nor did they lose sight of the humanity of those with whom they worked and served. Vincent understood that the future was not always clear, and that perfection was not attainable. Nevertheless, he had faith that if people did their best, with good will and honest efforts, all would be well. God would be satisfied, and good would result.

Almost 400 years later, I appreciate these thoughts immensely. Particularly as I approach my performance appraisal! They motivate me to stop worrying about being perfect and to simply do my best, as well as encouraging others to do the same. They also make me grateful for our DePaul community, built around a wise, timeless heritage and people who do so much with good will and honest efforts.


As you reflect upon the past year and your role at DePaul, where do you witness your good will and honest efforts? As you look ahead, what tasks or responsibilities in your role at DePaul make you feel especially motivated or excited? If you ever notice that your attitude is faltering, or your efforts are dwindling, what do you do to revive yourself?

1 Letter 962, To Etienne Blatiron, Superior in Genoa, 21 June 1647, CCD, 3:206

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

Why are We Here?

Many of us believe that now and again it is a good idea to ask, “why am I here?”

Why am I here…why am I here…? Such an innocent question. Such an infinite variety of existential responses. And, though we may never be fully satisfied with our answers, entertaining the question is worthwhile.

Right now, DePaul University finds itself asking institutionally “why are we here?” That question emanated throughout the Mission Statement dialogues undertaken around the university over the fall quarter. And, it continues to challenge us as we respond to the Covid public health crisis and wrestle with its corresponding economic circumstances. Addressing this question will take all the good will, wisdom, and participation DePaul can muster. Thankfully, we have DePaul’s nearly 125-year history to help illuminate our reason for being here today. Beyond that, we have the Vincentian tradition begun by Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, and their earliest colleagues. How might that heritage be helpful in shaping our answer to the question “why are we here?” Among many possibilities, one comes to mind.

In the spring of 1658, an elderly Vincent de Paul presented his only published work, “The Common Rules of the Congregation of the Mission,” to his community. It was meant to serve as a guide and instruction manual. Not by accident, Vincent chose to begin the first and last chapters of the Rules with the same biblical verse. Taken from the first verse of the Acts of the Apostles, it says Jesus began “to do and to teach.”1 Vincent chose this phrase as the inspiration and model for his missionaries.2 How wonderfully it captures the legacy of Vincent de Paul and how prophetically it names our purpose at DePaul University.

“To do and to teach” calls us to be active and public facing in order to benefit the common good. To do and to teach asks that we be intentional and reflective in learning from our experiences. As community members and collaborators, to do and to teach means giving and receiving respect, joy, and empowerment from one another. We are called to do virtuous work, aspire to the highest ideals, and to pay particular attention to those who are neglected or marginalized. Now and moving forward, to do and to teach means being anti-racist. It means caring for the earth. It means giving our students the most cost-effective, holistic education possible; one that prepares them to succeed. At the same time, it means providing our staff and faculty with a place that is equitable and inclusive; a community wherein they flourish.

Why are you here? To do and to teach! Such a simple question and response. Such transformative, empowering potential.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: How would you answer the question: Why are you here? How would you answer the question: Why is DePaul University here? How does “to do and to teach” apply to you?

1 “It is worthy of note that both the first and last chapters of the Common Rules open with the same biblical reference, namely to the fact that Jesus ‘began to do and to teach.’” Warren Dicharry, C.M., “Saint Vincent and Sacred Scripture,” Vincentian Heritage 10:2 (1989), 139. See: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.‌edu/vhj/‌vol10/iss2/2/

2 In the Common Rules, Vincent made clear that Jesus began by doing and then followed with teaching. Both pursuits were equally important, with the former shaping the latter, and emphasized the importance placed on experience, action, and incarnation. See Chapter 1, Common Rules: https://‌via.‌library.‌‌cm_construles/3



You are invited to join us for Lunch with Vincent on Tuesday, March 2nd, from 12:00–1:00 pm. We will be joined by our colleagues from the Office of Religious Diversity and Pastoral Care: Mat Charnay, Jewish Life Coordinator; Minister Jené Colvin, DePaul Christian Ministries; and Abdul-Malik Ryan, Muslim Chaplain. Together they will share how each of their Abrahamic traditions empowers them to be anti-racist. Participants will be invited to reflect and share how their values, philosophies, or religions calls and sustains them to be anti-racist.

To RSVP for Lunch with Vincent on 3/2/21: http://‌events.r20.‌constantcontact.‌com/‌register/‌event?‌‌oeidk=a07ehla8zhr4d41a1c6&llr‌=qiic4w6ab



Vincent de Paul and Accepting Change

In the cold mid-winter of 1656, Vincent de Paul took up his quill pen and began writing a letter to a community member far away. At one point in his epistle, Vincent reflected upon the changeability of the human experience and wrote to his colleague:

…the instability of the human person… is so great… that the person never remains in the same state. What he wants this year, perhaps he will not want the next—maybe not even tomorrow…1

In essence, Vincent was saying to his friend that to be human is to change. From one year, from one day, even from one moment to the next, for better or for worse, change is inevitable.

For all its universality, however, change is still so difficult for us to accept. It can surprise us, discomfort us, frustrate us, and plainly terrify us. No wonder we sometimes lose sight of the joys and benefits that only occur because of change in our lives. Without change, we don’t learn, we don’t progress, we don’t grow. As the journalist and author Gail Sheehy famously said, without change “we aren’t really living.”2

Right now, the year 2021 is still as fresh as new fallen snow. The DePaul community—students, staff, and faculty—are in the midst of an academic year that has summoned us to generate more creativity, resilience, and faith than we knew we had within us. Perhaps now would be a good time for us to look back on 2020, with all of its challenges, and ahead to 2021, with all its hope, and ask how we might harness change to lead us to better things.

What is one change you wish to keep from the year that has just ended? What is one change you wish to embrace in the year that has just begun?

1 Letter 1842, To Étienne Blatiron, Superior, In Genoa, 19 February 1655, CCD, 5:316.

2 See:

Reflection By: Tom Judge, Chaplain, Division of Mission & Ministry

A History of the DePaul University Seal and Motto

Most of us are probably familiar with DePaul University’s coat of arms, but have you ever wondered what it means, or where the ideas for the symbols came from? In the 1950s, a handful of university administrators took on the task of creating DePaul’s armorial seal and motto. Leading the charge were Mr. Arthur Schaefer, Director of Public Relations, and Rev. Alexander Schorsch, C.M., Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School.

In a 1990 letter to then DePaul President Rev. John Richardson, C.M., Mr. Schaefer recalled a conversation with “Father O’Malley [7th President of DePaul] that our various college catalogues were of uneven quality… with no common logo for the name and worst of all a seal that bore little relationship to the university’s mission—especially the physician’s symbol and the engineer’s wheel.” (DePaul University Ephemera, Box 2, Folder 9, Special Collections and Archives, DePaul University, Chicago, IL) A picture of the circular old university seal is shown.

Later in the same letter, Mr. Schaefer explained how the university motto was adopted as well. “I learned from early minutes of St. Vincent’s College that one of the faculty was assigned the task of coming up with a motto, but nothing ever came of it… I invited [Fr. Schorsch] to suggest a motto. He came back with five, all taken from the Bible, and we agreed on the Via Sapientiae.” (Ibid.)

The seal’s layout was designed by William Ryan, a heraldry expert in New York. Mr. Ryan was President of Ryan-West Banknote, a company that “printed or engraved securities and heraldic symbols” for Catholic institutions. (New York Times, 23 July 1981) After a visit to DePaul to “absorb its origins and local history,” Mr. Ryan created the seal in early 1954, and it was adopted by the university later that year. The cost for Mr. Ryan’s services? $150. (Ephemera, Box 2, Folder 9)


Symbolism of the University Seal

The following description is from The DePaulia, published on 9 April 1954, announcing the new Armorial Seal:

…the seal features a traditional coat of arms and a new university motto, Viam sapientiae monstrabo tibi, ‘I will show you the way of wisdom,’ taken from Proverbs IV, 11.

The main section of the field, consisting of a series of nine checky panes (a distinctly French charge) forms an heraldic cross, representing the Catholic faith. In the center pane is the heart, the symbol of charity, for St. Vincent de Paul, titular head of the university, whose lifetime of service to God and humanity has made him the international symbol of charity. The pane above the heart is charged with a crescent, the symbol of Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception, under which she is the patroness of the United States.

The chief (upper compartment) is devoted to the coat of arms of modern France, the country of St. Vincent de Paul, with its three fleurs-de-lis honoring the Triune God. The embattled lines of partition at the base of the chief, the heraldic equivalent of a fort, betoken Fort Dearborn, established by the United States on the site of Chicago—just a short distance from the present downtown DePaul center. The phoenix on the crest, the symbol of immortality or the Resurrection, is derived from the seal of the Archdiocese of Chicago, whereon it betokens the resurrection of Chicago after the great fire.


Reflection Question

The University Seal uses many symbols to convey meaningful aspects of DePaul’s Catholic, Vincentian, and urban mission and identity. If a new coat of arms or seal were created today, what symbols would you now include? How would you illustrate what is important to DePaul University in 2020?

Reflection by:

Michael Van Dorpe, Program Manager for Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission and Ministry. Special thanks to the DePaul University Archives and Special Collections.

We must go there!


October 1, 2015.  My family and friends were texting me. “Are you ok?”

I ignored them.

I knew what they were asking and I didn’t want to go there.

I didn’t want to return to a horrible day at Northern Illinois University — Valentines Day 2008 —when a student burst into a classroom and started shooting. Months before this heinous act on a campus that was supposed to be safe, I had begun serving as a campus pastor. Years later as news broke this past Thursday that there was another shooting on another “safe” campus I tried my best to ignore the realities that come with such a tragedy.

I didn’t want to remember the screams of disbelief from friends and family who discovered that a dear one had been wounded, or even worse, killed. I didn’t want to remember the scenes of confusion and cries of terror in the hospital emergency room. I didn’t want to remember the funerals and vigils. I didn’t want to go there.

But tonight, here at DePaul, I WILL go there.

I will stand with students, faculty and staff around the St. Vincent Circle in the heart of campus and I WILL go there. I will enter into the depths of heartache and I will stand with others as a gesture of solidarity against violence in our communities, on our campuses, in our world. I will remember all of the people in a slumbering university town not too far from Chicago who were affected by gun violence. I will reflect upon all of those in Roseburg, Oregon and throughout the country whose hearts are broken and whose lives are disrupted by another senseless killing rampage. And I will pray for peace and yearn for the same in my heart and the hearts of victims of violence.

Taking a few moments to light a candle, to offer prayer and to take a stand against violence may seem like a very small thing to do. But I know–having been with the mothers and fathers, sisters, grandparents, professors, friends, brothers and broken community members—that such a small gesture is more powerful than anyone can imagine. I know how important moments of remembering are for those who are trying to make sense out of the senseless.  I know the warmth and balm that one small shining candle can bring to hearts broken.

Tonight, WE must go there! We must go and stand with our brothers and sisters near and far and pray. We must go there to remember those who have died and those who are dying inside over loss of life and so much more. We must go there to let the world know that this school, built upon the foundations of loving and serving one another, is standing solidly together to offer a bit of balm and a prayer for peace for all those whose lives are ripped apart—or ended—by violence.

Tonight, standing around St. Vincent’s Circle, our lights will burn, our prayers will be offered and we will tell our sisters and brothers in Roseburg and the world that we are resolved to be lovers of peace and caretakers of one another. Tonight we must go there!

Rev. Diane Dardon is a Protestant Chaplain at DePaul.  She invites you to join the DePaul Interfaith Scholars tonight at 6:00p.m.  in St. Vincent’s Circle for a Vigil to honor those slain last week at Umpqua Community College.

DePaul Charleston Vigil – Opening Remarks

Rev. Keith Baltimore,University Minister, DePaul Christian Ministries, led a July 1 vigil on the Lincoln Park campus for the DePaul community to honor those killed in Charleston, S.C.  Here are his opening remarks.

vigil candles

This afternoon, we as community have come together to acknowledge and remember the nine people whose lives were tragically ended in Charleston, South Carolina.

On the evening of Wednesday, June 17, 2015, nine people of faith gathered as they always did for Bible study, fellowship and prayer at their church – the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston. During that bible study, they welcomed someone they did not know into their sacred space.  This person sat among them a while, before standing and violently shooting and killing nine people.

The unusual nature of this tragedy can cause even the most devout person to doubt or scramble for some meaning that makes sense. Trying to answer the question of “Why? Why? Why…” can be frustrating and overwhelming.  I know because I’ve been there… In fact, I’m still there.  I’m still in that cold, dark space in my heart and head trying to sort it all out.  As of today, I have nothing.  I’m still confused, still at a complete loss and I am still searching for something that will help me make sense of all this evil.

At some point we may need to recognize that we won’t be satisfied.  While I may never understand this… I refuse to accept it.  I refuse to get used to innocent people being savagely killed for some insane reason.  We must not become desensitized to violence that tears away at our community and our spirit.   I’ll admit to you again that I don’t have any answers, but let me offer to you something very small that I know for sure that has helped me.  Nothing…nothing stays the same.  I know for sure that our country and its people have the capacity to change.  So I will hold on, I will continue to work and I will keep on fighting until true change comes.

There is much to learn from this tragedy.  The discussions and, more importantly, the work necessary to identify and then end what caused this great tragedy must and will continue.  We can’t allow ourselves to become distracted by trite debates over state flags that simply symbolize racism and do nothing to end actual racism.  The time for wrestling with the cause of this great evil that occurred in Charleston will come soon enough, but for today… today we must admit that we feel broken, shocked and overwhelmed with sadness.  So right now… we will just sit together, cry together, and remember them the best way we know how.

A concurrent vigil was also held on the Loop campus, and moment of silence was held at 12:30 p.m. campus wide for those who could not gather as a community.  We will continue to hold all affected in our prayers, and DePaul is sending a Resolution for the nine church members, read at the vigil, to Emanuel AME on behalf of the university.

Abdul-Malik Ryan, Assistant Director of the Office of Religious Diversity, welcomes mourners to a memorial service for the victims of the Charleston (SC) church shooting. (DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief)
Guests light candles in honor of the victim as the DePaul University community gathered for simultaneous memorial services Wednesday, July 1, 2015 at the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Chapel and the St. Louise de Marillac Chapel to remember and mourn the nine victims of the Charleston church shooting. (DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief)
Guests light candles in honor of those who were killed. (DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief)

Goodbye for Now

by Katie Sullivan

“Goodbye for now, love you, and keep in touch.”  My senior year of college a priest said these words at one of our last masses of the year; they always come back to me around this time of year when a new group of students is graduating and getting ready to move on to the next chapter in their lives.

On May 29th, I marked ten years since I graduated from college.  Ten years since I left the University of San Diego and the great experiences I had as a college student.  In some ways, I can’t believe it’s been that long but I think that’s at least partly because for the last seven years I have worked in higher education and gotten to celebrate with students each year as they have reached the milestone of graduation and set off for new adventures.

Katie with her friends and family on her graduation day ten years ago

In my three years at DePaul, I have greatly enjoyed being part of our baccalaureate mass tradition each year welcoming the graduates and their families and celebrating with them at the start of the graduation weekend.  Bacc Mass is a great time to take a breath, reflect on the journey, ponder what comes next… (you can join us Friday, June 12th at 4pm in St. Vincent de Paul Church if you’d like). Each baccalaureate mass I attend brings back memories of my own and the feelings I had as I got ready to graduate.

I remember wondering if I was ready.  I knew what I was going to do after college (lifeguard at the neighborhood pool for the summer and then off to Hartford, CT, for a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps), but I was definitely not sure that I was ready to leave my friends and the community I had built.

So, in that vein, I’d like to let our graduates know that it’s okay to be feeling some nerves along with the excitement that comes with graduation.  Maybe you’re a little uncertain – you don’t have a job or you have a job in a different city.  You are not alone in your uncertainty nor will you be alone on the journey out of uncertainty.  Look to your family and friends.  Your mentors and role models.  Seek advice.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Remember to check in with your friends even if you are spread across the country in different cities doing different things every day.  It’s not about how often you talk but about the fact that you remember the other exists and you want to remain connected to them.

And, as you move on from DePaul, maybe instead of saying goodbye to your friends, say “goodbye for now, love you, and keep in touch.”

Katie Sullivan is the University Minister for Catholic Social Concerns in DePaul’s Catholic Campus Ministry office.

A Parade of Casseroles

casseroleWorking at DePaul University I’ve learned a lot about St. Vincent DePaul the charity saint. While many others were doing good works during his time, Vincent was the first to organize charity in a systemic way. One of the first places he experimented with this was at a parish in Chatillon, France. He recognized that parishioners would respond when there was a neighbor in need, but that the person would be overwhelmed with too much attention all at once and so the good will was not put to good use – back then they didn’t have freezers to hold extra casseroles! So, Vincent began to organize the parishioners into small groups of people who would go out and do home visits to assess need and then decide together how to respond to it. In these visits, both the physical and spiritual needs would be attended to.

This practice continues today around the world with the St. Vincent DePaul Society and other ministries, where volunteers go into others’ homes. It is also happening right here in Chicago in my own St. John Berchmans (SJB) parish community thanks to the ministry of HOPE (Helping Other People Enthusiastically).

For the past few weeks my family has been the gracious recipient of the generosity of SJB friends who have brought us meals as we welcome home our son Theodore.

Typically I’m on the giving, not receiving end. At first my husband was hesitant to receive such generosity since “we” don’t really need it. When I asked if he was going to suddenly take up cooking as his new hobby and leave his newborn in order to go to the grocery store, he quickly changed his mind. Yes, perhaps we could use some extra help! It is a humbling time as we welcome with open arms a parade of casseroles and tasty treats to give us the endurance to push through sleepless nights.

There is something very intimate and sacred about inviting someone into your home, especially during a moment of need. People we see in the pews on Sunday entered both the joy and messiness of our life with a newborn. Some would stay and visit for a while, sharing their wisdom on parenthood. Others saw we had our hands full and just left instructions of how to heat the food.

The simple act of preparing and delivering a meal is profound way to continue to build bridges of solidarity together. We are grateful for the physical and spiritual nourishment we’ve received from the SJB community –the actual meals and the many powerful prayers that have made all the difference in our and Teddy’s life. Hopefully someday you will have the opportunity to join or receive a parade of casseroles too.

Joyana Dvorak serves as Service Immersion Coordinator with DePaul University Ministry when she’s not home on maternity leave with her son.

Photo courtesy of