Authenticity: Invitation for Graduating Seniors

Last week I reviewed a leadership module highlighting an insight first introduced to me when I started working at DePaul: professionalism is Vincentian simplicity.

I learned Vincentian simplicity through my experience first, and only later made connections to its roots in our Vincentian family. The first Daughters of Charity I met showed me that simplicity is authenticity. The authenticity of I mean what I say is woven through work and personal life.

I recall Sister Frances Ryan, who taught in the College of Education (COE), offering me cutting-edge scholarship to address the big questions life was bringing up, accompanied by a phone call or handwritten note keeping my family in her heart and prayers. Sister Katie Norris, who served as director of Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM), brought Vincentian simplicity to our meetings by cutting through tense moments with a courageous, tender question or insight that quickly breathed imaginative, healing oxygen into the room. Sister Judy Warmbold, who shared her leadership and pastoral gifts in the Dax program for housing-insecure students and also with CCM, reminds me of the power of presence when I meet her, so often sitting with students. She centers the personal dignity of those in her midst with her listening heart and her laughter. Sister Betty Ann McNeil, Vincentian Scholar in Residence at DePaul, contributes knowledge and historical context with integrity and rigor in light of the sustained work of our Vincentian mission and legacy.

I feel blessed and grateful to have worked with these Daughters of Charity at DePaul University. Whether I have bumped into them on Halsted Street outside of the COE or at the Marillac Social Center in East Garfield Park, a simplicity of what you see is what you get has consistently been made real through their presence.

I write this reflection with the graduating seniors of 2022 in mind and heart. I join with all faculty, staff, and administrators in the DePaul community to offer this blessing:

As you begin the next chapter of your life, may you allow this Vincentian spirit of simplicity to guide you. May your professional endeavors be filled with an authenticity that breathes healing and friendship into your workplace. May your education be lifelong, ever embracing knowledge and wisdom. And may you continue to center the dignity of all, especially those excluded and marginalized.


Reflection by: Karl Nass, Director of Vincentian Service and Formation, Division of Mission and Ministry

Managing Life’s Transitions

There is transition happening all around us.

Academically, we are nearing the end of the school year. Graduating students will be leaving and moving on to the next stage of their pilgrimage through life. Current high school seniors will graduate and join our community next year. Students who will transfer to or from DePaul over the summer are also preparing for their transition, as are potential adult students looking to advance their education and career development.

A large percentage of people have been vaccinated, or soon will be, and so many of us are preparing to regularly go back to our offices after more than a year of working from home.

In the Upper Midwest we are moving from spring to summer as the weather warms and the days become longer. In Chicago, we might even revel in the fact that we had an actual spring. Some years ago, I heard on the radio, “spring will fall on a Thursday this year!”

In the Christian liturgical tradition, the season of Easter has just ended. After celebrating Easter for 50 days Ordinary Time resumes.

We are certainly in the midst of many different transitions. But that doesn’t need to be a reason for us to fret, to become stressed out, to try to do too much, or to hurry the process.

In writing about one of the greatest transitions we face, at the end of our lives, Vincent de Paul once said, “In fact, experience has shown us that those who have gone to heaven most likely advanced the time of entering their new life by endangering their lives by too much hard work.”1 In other words, Vincent suggests that while entering heaven is certainly a goal for many people, we shouldn’t try to rush the process!

Our lives may be in a state of turmoil in going through so many different transitions at once—and it can be overwhelming—but the more we remain calm, the easier these transitions will be. So, before the school year begins again in earnest, do what you can to take some time this summer to relax, enjoy the warm weather, and just be. This will enable you to be more present and attentive to your life and the work before you. The transitions you are moving through will occur on their own time.

What kinds of transitions are you experiencing right now, both personally and professionally?

How will you make time for yourself in the coming weeks and months? How will you remain calm and grounded and avoid becoming too overwhelmed?

What are your practices of self-care when the busy-ness of life takes over?


1 Letter 2948, To François Feydin, In Richelieu, 24 August 1659, CCD, 8:103-04.

Reflection by: Matt Merkt, Chaplain for Liturgy/Music, Catholic Campus Ministry, Division of Mission and Ministry

What Must Be Done?

This past weekend we celebrated the graduating Class of 2020. After years of hard work and perseverance, our students are ready to go out and change the world. We, as a DePaul community, have prepared them to thrive, care for others, and act justly. We have given them the tools to act upon the Vincentian question, both in their lives and in their communities, “what must be done?”

However, as we celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2020, we must also recognize that our job as a Vincentian, Catholic, and urban university is not done. Our world is broken. We must look ahead to the Class of 2021 and our incoming Class of 2024 and ask how are we preparing them to change, or even heal, our broken world? What action must the DePaul community take today to ensure that future classes flourish. Perhaps in 50 years theirs will be a world that is more just, more loving, filled with students whose experience of our broken world is only to be found in history textbooks?

Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac lived in a society marred by systemic inequality. They asked and strived to answer, “what must be done?” Today, inspired by our shared mission, we seek to emulate Vincent and Louise by asking that same question. To follow in their footsteps we recognize, as Vincent did, that “having charity in our heart and words isn’t everything, it has to be put into action.”1

What is one way you can personally take action to help fix our broken world? What must we do to better teach, advise, or support the Classes of 2021, 2024, or 2070, to build a world in which all can thrive?


1) 207, Charity (Common Rules, Chap. 2, Art. 12), 30 May 1659, CCD, 12:223.

 

Reflection by:

Michael Van Dorpe, Program Manager for Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission & Ministry

 

Read the Division of Mission and Ministry Statement on the Dignity of Black Lives