Lean Into Your Strengths

“May God be pleased to strengthen you in these hardships, enlighten you in your doubts, and bring you safely to the place where Providence intends to lead your little bark. Trust firmly in God’s guidance and encourage your people to have this trust in the present disturbances; the storm will abate, and the calm will be greater and more pleasing than ever.”[1] — Vincent de Paul

Over the past several days, I have found myself repeatedly searching for words that might support my colleagues in Mission and Ministry—and to encourage us to be a support to others—as we move through the many challenges of our current moment as a DePaul community. What surfaced for me in my own prayerful reflection was to share a rather simple message of encouragement to “lean into your strengths.”

Compassion. Kindness. Generosity. Listening. Making space that brings people together as a community. Care. Invitation to relationship. Bridge-building. Hope. Mindful and heart-full reflection and prayer. Love.

There is so much that is beyond us and our ability to control, in our personal lives and in these current times. Remaining grounded in who we are and what we do well is perhaps the best we can contribute for our own good and the good of the whole. This can serve to keep us grounded, authentic, and present to the moment. Each has unique gifts to share for the benefit of the larger whole.

I invite you to join us in Mission and Ministry by considering what strengths you offer that might contribute to the well-being of others in our community right now.

How can you mindfully and intentionally lean into those strengths and offer them generously as gifts for our DePaul community in need of care, healing, and hope?

I would welcome—and I am certain our whole team in Mission and Ministry would welcome—walking with you in any way possible to encourage and support you in bringing those gifts to light.

May we all walk together in the way of wisdom, which Vincent de Paul reminds us, “consists in following Providence step by step.”[2]

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

[1] Letter 1942, “To Charles Ozenne, Superior, in Krakow,” October 15, 1655, CCD, 5:454.

[2] Letter 720, “To Bernard Codoing, Superior, in Rome,” August 6, 1644, CCD, 2:521.

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.

Programs and Spaces for Community Dialogue and Pastoral Care

November 2-6

Between the pandemic, politics, and quickly approaching quarter finals, we’re coming up on a particularly charged week. Mission & Ministry is providing a variety of ways to be together to listen, to process or just breathe.

Below is a line-up of services and programs offered to faculty, staff and students.



Individual Pastoral Support for Faculty and Staff

Mission and Ministry’s Faculty and Staff Engagement Team (FASE) is available to provide a listening ear and pastoral support for individual faculty and staff during election week and beyond. Appointments can be scheduled using the following links:

Abdul-Malik Ryan:  https://ChaplainAbuNoor.as.me/
Mark Laboe:   https://MarkLaboe.as.me/
Mike Van Dorpe:  https://MikeVanDorpe.as.me/
Siobhan O’Donoghue:  https://Siobhan.as.me/
Tom Judge by email:   tjudge@depaul.edu
General FASE email address:  FASE@depaul.edu

Midweek LIVE Prayer for the DePaul Community     

Wednesday, November 4th, 9:05 am            

Join colleagues from the DePaul community for ten minutes of guided interfaith-friendly prayer and reflection on Wednesday morning at 9:05 am. This time will include a brief opening prayer, a short spiritual reading, and quiet space for reflection. The prayer will be held on Facebook LIVE at 9:05 AM and end promptly at 9:15 am, with the video available afterwards for those who cannot be present at that time. Participate in the Prayer by following this link:  https://www.facebook.com/DePaulDMM/live/

Connection Cafés: Processing the Elections with DePaul Colleagues

Wednesday, November 4th and Thursday, November 5th

This election season has added a layer of stress and uncertainty for many of us. The Division of Mission and Ministry invites you to participate in a Connection Café: Processing the Election with DePaul Colleagues.  These Connection Cafés are intended to create a space for DePaul faculty and staff to process what they may be feeling and thinking after the November 3rd election day in what may be a prolonged period of uncertainty. Join with DePaul colleagues to share your own experiences and hear those of others, guided by elements of a peace circle process and facilitated by Mission and Ministry staff.

Registration Required. Zoom link will be sent after registration.

Wednesday, November 4th
12:00 – 1:00 pm
Register Here

Thursday, November 5th 
3:30-4:30 pm
Register Here




Pastoral Care Hours

CCM’s Pastoral Care team is available Monday, November 2nd – Friday, December 11.
See schedule below. Connect via Zoom link:  https://depaul.zoom.us/j/91690617053

Monday: 10-11 am, 12-1 pm, 2-3 pm, 6-7 pm
Tuesday: 9-10 am, 10-11 am, 12-1 pm, 3-4 pm
Wednesday: 9-11 am, 1-2 pm, 4-5 pm
Thursday: 12-4 pm
Friday: 9:30-11:30 am, 1-3 pm

Circle of Lament

Thursday, November 5, 4:30-5:30 pm

There are times in life when we are left with nothing but sorrow and lament, and for so many reasons, that seems to be the place where many find themselves in these times. Join staff from Catholic Campus Ministry and Religious Diversity and Pastoral Care teams in quiet reflection around the sorrows of today and looking toward hope for tomorrow.  https://depaul.zoom.us/j/94351635099



Office Hours

November 4th, 10:00 am—3:00 pm
Come as you are.  Here to listen.
VSF staff will be available through Zoom after election day for those who would like to be in community: http://bit.ly/vsfoffice

Ozanam Café

Thursday, November 5th, 4:00pm to 5:00 pm

Join the Vincentians in Action (VIA) and Meet Me at the Mission (MMATM) communities for coffee, community, and conversations about social justice. This quarter, we will be exploring activism in the Vincentian way. Come build your activism toolbox and learn more about the Vincentian approach to systemic change. Join us on Zoom: http://bit.ly/theozcafe

Community Peacemakers – Self and Collective Wellness Circle

November 6th, 11am-12pm

Join VIA’s Community Peacemakers for a talking circle about self-care and collective care, as we navigate being students in these COVID-19 times. Come learn about peace circles, have a space for reflection, and be in community with others! Space Limited – RSVP on DeHub: http://dehub.cglink.me/r9549



Pastoral Care
Follow RDPC  Facebook & Instagram (@RDPCDePaul) for daily words of encouragement. In addition, the RDPC team is available to all students needing comfort or a listening ear.

Reach out directly to a member of our team:

Pastor Diane Dardón |  DDARDON@depaul.edu
Protestant Chaplain/Director-Religious Diversity & Pastoral Care

Imam Abdul-Malik Ryan | MRYAN42@depaul.edu
Muslim Chaplain/Assistant Director-Religious Diversity & Pastoral Care

Minister Jene Colvin | JCOLVIN3@depaul.edu
Protestant and Interfaith Minister

Matthew Charnay | MCHARNAY@depaul.edu
Jewish Life and Interfaith Coordinator

Post-election Open Spaces on Zoom:

Tuesday, November 3rd

2:30-4:30 Mat Charnay and DePaul Jewish Life community gathering

Wednesday, November 4th

9:00-11:30 am Pastor Diane is available for conversation, prayer, and listening

1:30-3:30 pm Imam Abdul-Malik Ryan is available for conversation, prayer, and listening

2:30-4:30 pm Mat Charnay and DePaul Jewish Life community gathering

Thursday, Nov. 5th

9:00-11:00 am
Imam Abdul-Malik Ryan is available for conversation, prayer, and listening

3:30-7:00 pm
Virtual UMMA Room/Muslim Life Center open for conversation and community




Being Present as a Form of Healing: QIRC Reflection

Dialogue in the happening...
Dialogue in the happening…
Vincentian Art Exhibit

I think I’m getting the hang of Quarterly Inter-Religious Celebrations (QIRC). This was my second QIRC on staff, and 4th or 5th QIRC overall, I believe. It was very different going from hosting to presenting on the evening’s theme, Healing A Wounded World Through Art, – I found the former to be significantly less challenging than the latter, which is stressful for obvious reasons. That said, I had a fantastic time.

One of the things that caught me off guard was how empowered I felt in my religious identity while speaking about it to others. In the past, I have been unwilling to identify with a specific tradition or faith because I had been unwilling to claim ownership over what I believed. I understand now that this is because I had been looking for the ‘perfect’ religion. Without ever realizing it (and, indeed, oftentimes hiding behind a mask of feigned ambivalence), I was hailing religions like cabs – only to leave each taxi the second that their route to my destination varied from the one I desired. ‘There’s got to be a cabbie that has thought about this route before, someone who knows exactly what it is that I should do,’ I thought to myself. Since then, I have come to understand that only I can chart this route, because only I have had my life of experiences. As a result, I’ve begun to take ownership over what I believe; love it even. And it seems as though now that I love what I believe, people are more interested in hearing me talk about it – and now that people want to hear what I have to say about Buddhism rather than what others have to say,  it is easier for me to find delight in my identity. I want to hear what I have to say. I suppose that is the healing that I will take from the QIRC as a whole.

Islamic Art Exhibit
Islamic Art Exhibit

I also couldn’t possibly write a reflection without commenting on Morgan Spears’ performance. God, what a stupendous, brave, and vulnerable piece of art. And how much more challenging and perfect could it have possibly been for our night’s theme? I had personally invited her to perform, but had no idea that her poem would be so personal and self-revolutionary. I think the most powerful part of the entire evening for me was when, after Morgan performed, she came over to my booth to thank me for asking her to be a part of the evening. She looked me in the eyes with an expression that said ‘sorry if that got out of hand…I kind of lost track of myself’, and I told her that she was incredible, and then she just smiled and we both laughed and hugged. She said that she was super nervous to open herself up the way she did, but I could see in her face how grounded and lucid the experience had left her feeling. Morgan’s performance, more than perhaps anything else at the QIRC, invited the audience to engage in radical transparency, heartfelt expression, and most importantly, the kind of listening that one can only learn by calling out for God and enduring the silence before Her/His reply.

Until next quarter!

Josh Graber ’14

“Meeting Minutes” – Interfaith Scholars Out For Dinner!

Interfaith Scholars Out For Dinner at Cozy Noodles near Cubs stadium!
Interfaith Scholars Out For Dinner at Cozy Noodles near Cubs stadium!

This past week, the DePaul Interfaith Scholars traded in their typical weekly meeting for a ‘Cozy’ dinner together. We ventured to Cozy Noodles a thai restaurant in the Wrigley neighborhood – just north of the DePaul Lincoln Park campus around the corner of the red-line Addison el-stop. The dinner was an opportunity for us as scholars to simply ‘hang out’ and be in good company. A casual atmosphere sparked segmented stories of each other’s lives: bits of our daily triumphs as well as pieces of family traditions.  I learned that I should not expect to see a Jewish man waiting at the end of the aisle at his wedding, but I might more likely find him walking down the aisle with his parents.


I don’t think that we always realize the fun facts, heartfelt stories, or shared experiences that we exchange with one another, in the passing of laid-back conversations. What can also slip by is the unintentional ‘ouches’, assumptions, and generalizations that can easily weave their way into chit-chat.  Even the dialogical training and insight of interfaith scholars can get away from us. We can easily forget challenges that come with intentionality and consciousness. But it is talking with friends – the time we spend listening, questioning and sharing – that shape the foundation for inter-religious dialogue we seek to foster.


Caelin Niehoff ’14