Louise Week 2024

In honor of Saint Louise de Marillac’s Feast Day on May 9th, the Division of Mission and Ministry invites the DePaul community to celebrate Louise Week from May 4-10.   

As a DePaul community, our strategic planning context is inviting us to dream, design, and innovate – and Saint Louise provides us a unique example of Vincentian leadership. Her life was a demonstration of love in action through her innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. She along with her female contemporaries provided the shoulders that bore the weight of crisis that they experienced in a country racked by war, entrenched in political upheaval, overwhelmed by the plague, and struck by hunger. In community, these women collaborated across difference, uplifted the gifts in those they served and created new pathways forward to respond to those on the margins. Her story reminds us of the possibility of transforming systems and lives.  

We kick off Louise Week 2024 with Vincentian Service Day on May 4th followed by a week of celebration. Just as Saint Louise was sustained by the generosity and goodness of those around her, may we too take the time to pause, uplift, and celebrate with gratitude those who sustain our journey and inspire us.  

Finally, this year there is a distinctive way for all to honor Saint Louise’s life and legacy: give a Shared Coin to a student, faculty, or staff you have witnessed living DePaul’s mission. In honor of the 400th anniversary of St. Louise de Marillac’s Lumiere moment, this year’s Shared Coin quote is: 

“Encourage one another and may your mutual good example speak louder than any words can.”  

– St. Louise de Marillac 

For more information about the Shared Coin Tradition, including how to pick up a coin, check out the website at: go.depaul.edu/sharedcoin.

Join us!


Vincentian Service Day

Date: Saturday, May 4 | Location: LPC – Cacciatore Stadium | Time: 8:30 am

Started in 1998, Vincentian Service Day is a DePaul tradition where students, staff, faculty, and alumni come together to participate in a day of service with community partners in Chicago. 

Serviceday.depaul.edu

 

DAB Tie Dye Tuesday 

Date: Tuesday, May 7 | Location: LPC – Quad | Time: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Join DAB for a fun afternoon making special Louise & Friends Tie Dye T-shirts! Don’t miss this chance to learn about the legacy of St. Louise de Marillac and other powerful women in DePaul’s history!

 

Catholic Charities Tuesday Night Supper

Date: Tuesday, May 7 | Location: 721 N. LaSalle St. | Time: 3:30 pm – 6:00 pm

Join the Meet Me at the Mission and DCSA in serving the Catholic Charities Tuesday Night Supper at 721 N. LaSalle St. Participants will help to prep and serve a hot meal to guests who may be experiencing homelessness or are recently arrived migrant families. Come ready for a meaningful Vincentian service experience to learn about the legacy of the Daughters of Charity in Chicago.  

Meet in the Interfaith Sacred Space, 1st Floor of the Student Center across from Suite 104, between 3:30-3:45 to take the train together to the location downtown. RSVP required due to limited space.  

DeHub Link: https://cglink.me/2cC/r384449

 

Lunch with Louise (For Faculty & Staff)

Date: Wednesday, May 8 | Location: Loop – 11th Floor DePaul Center, The DePaul Club | Time: 11:30 am – 1:00 pm

Join DAB for a fun afternoon making special Louise & Friends Tie Dye T-shirts! Don’t miss this chance to learn about the legacy of St. Louise de Marillac and other powerful women in DePaul’s history!

 

Catholic Community Night 

Date: Wednesday, May 8 | Location: LPC – Student Center Suite 104 | Time: 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Join CCM’s Catholic Community Night!

 

Louise Feast Day Mass & Lunch

Date: Thursday, May 9 | Location: LPC – St. Louise de Marillac Chapel & LPC Student Center 104, Loop – Chapel on 1st floor of Lewis Center & The DePaul Club 11018 | Time: Mass – 12:00 pm, Lunch – 12:45 pm 

 Celebrate the Feast Day with a celebratory lunch at 12:45pm. Everyone is welcome! For the Lincoln Park Campus, come to Catholic Campus Ministry (Student Center 104). In the Loop, join us in the DePaul Club on the 11th floor of the DePaul Center. 

 

Loop Louise & Friends Celebration 

Date: Thursday, May 9 | Location: DePaul Center 11th Floor Gallery & Terrace | Time: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Join the Office of Student Involvement and Mission and Ministry to celebrate the feast of St. Louise de Marillac. Stop by for a snack, learn about the legacy of Louise and other powerful women in DePaul’s history and get your free Louise & Friends t-shirt  

DeHub Link: https://cglink.me/2cC/r386614 

 

Cafecito con Tepeyac

Date: Thursday, May 9 | Location: LPC – Student Center Suite 380 | Time: 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Join us for a conversation about women’s leadership, the legacy of St. Louise de Marillac and community with Latinx students. Cafecito and a snack will be provided!

DeHub Link: https://cglink.me/2cC/r386859

 

Dinner with Daughters

Date: Thursday, May 9 | Location: Sanctuary Hall, 2347 N. Kenmore Ave | Time: 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Have you ever met a Daughter of Charity? Join Meet Me at the Mission and Residence Education & Housing for dinner and conversation to celebrate the Feast of St. Lousie de Marillac. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear these amazing women share their story of how they continue to live the legacy of St. Louise de Marillac today.  

DeHub Link: https://cglink.me/2cC/r386738 

Louise de Marillac and the World of Disability

With this reflection, we continue our celebration of Louise Week 2023, highlighting Saint Louise de Marillac’s example of transformative leadership and compassionate care for the marginalized.

According to the World Health Organization, 1.3 billion people around the world live with disabilities.[1] Disabled people are much more likely than nondisabled people to live in poverty and to be excluded from societies that do not accommodate their needs. As part of the Vincentian Family, a community dedicated to serving those in need, DePaul University has a special commitment to those who are excluded. Inspired by our recent celebration of “Louise Week,” it is therefore fitting to examine Louise de Marillac’s engagement with disabled people.

Louise de Marillac had a deep relationship with disability. Her son, Michel, was born prematurely[2] and experienced developmental delays and learning challenges.[3] A single parent after the death of her husband, Louise herself experienced intense anxiety over her son that may have been worsened because he was a nontypical child. In fact, she often wrote to Vincent de Paul about this, seeking his advice and support.[4] She herself also had health issues, experiencing frequent migraines and chronic bronchitis.[5] Like many people who are chronically ill, she had to change life plans because of her illness: her health prevented her from entering the Capuchins, which had been a dream of hers as a teenager.[6] Louise knew what it was like to have her daily life curtailed by illness or treatment for illness. Several of her letters contain notes about this: “I took some medication this morning which limits my activity.”[7] She also experienced mental health issues. For instance, she suffered depression so intensely that, as she wrote, “the force of my emotions sometimes resulted in physical pain.”[8]

Louise’s experiences enabled her to better empathize with what members of her community were going through. As she wrote to one Daughter of Charity, “I share in the suffering that I know you are enduring because of your attacks of sadness and depression. … I wish you could share them with me, my very dear Sister, along with the thoughts they have evoked in you. I will try to be of some help to you in this matter having, perhaps, experienced the same difficulties myself.”[9] Many of her letters are filled with remedies for sisters and other colleagues who were sick, and she also cautioned against overexertion for those who were trying to carry out their duties even when they were ill: “Keep Sister Françoise until this evening, but do not let her carry the soup pot because she is not feeling well.”[10] Louise had a very holistic approach to the health of those under her that we would do well to emulate today. She recognized that it would be wrong for a community such as hers, devoted to healthcare and the service of the poor, not to treat its members with the same compassion and concern.

But Louise went beyond empathy and made strides toward inclusion. Although people with preexisting conditions were normally barred from joining the Daughters of Charity, Louise recognized that sick and disabled people could contribute to her community’s work. In the first surviving letter we have from her to Vincent, she speaks of “the good blind girl from Vertus” who was a Lady of Charity—a member of a group that worked with the Daughters.[11]

One of the most trusted leaders within the Daughters of Charity was Élisabeth Martin, who, among other things, oversaw the hospital communities in Angers and Nantes and supervised the new sisters at the motherhouse.[12] The editors of Spiritual Writings tell us that Martin was chronically ill.[13] Improving Martin’s health was a frequent subject of letters, but Louise apparently never considered relieving Martin of her responsibilities. On more than one occasion, Louise told Martin that she was not a burden and encouraged her to make what we today would term requests for accommodations. Consider this letter from Louise to Martin: “State your needs very simply and do not be upset that your illness makes you useless. You are the only one who thinks so.”[14] Louise always wanted a true picture of Martin’s physical and mental state, writing “speak to me openly of your suffering. I will read and understand everything.”[15]

This evidence clearly shows that, although it wasn’t perfect, a tradition of receptiveness and inclusion toward disabled people started with Louise. It’s important to understand the conditions of disabled lives. Disabled people should be able to state the exact nature of their abilities without fear and to request the modifications that they need to thrive. Only then can we build a society that truly serves everyone. We at DePaul should ask ourselves how we can continue Louise’s work toward inclusion.

Reflection Questions:

How can you work toward creating a more inclusive and supportive community for people with disabilities in your life and work at DePaul?

How does the example of Louise de Marillac inspire you to build and sustain a commitment to community?

Reflection by: Miranda Lukatch, Editor, Vincentian Studies Institute

Join us this week for more Louise Week events!


[2] Kieran Kneaves, D.C., “A Woman Named Louise: 1591–1633,” Vincentian Heritage Journal 12:2 (1991): 124. Available online at https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol12/iss2/3/.

[3] Élisabeth Charpy, Louise de Marillac: Come Winds or High Waters (Chicago: Vincentian Studies Institute, 2018), 14. Available online at https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/43/.

[4] Charpy, Louise de Marillac, 25.

[6] Charpy, Louise de Marillac, 10.

[7] Letter 20, “To Monsieur L’Abbé de Vaux at Angers,” May 6, 1640, Spiritual Writings, 28. Hereinafter referred to as SW. Available online at https://via.library.depaul.edu/ldm/.

[8] Document A.13, “An Interior Trial,” (c. 1621), SW, 691–92.

[9] Letter 102, “To Sister Claude (Brigide), the First,” (c. June 1642), SW, 74.

[10] Letter 127, “To My Very Dear Sister Barbe Angiboust,” (c. 1642), SW, 83.

[11] Letter 1, “To Monsieur Vincent,” June 5, 1627, SW, 6, n. 1.

[12] SW, 30–31, n. 3.

[13] SW, 39, n. 1.

[14] Letter 58B, “To Sister Élisabeth Martin,” August 7, (1641), SW, 56.

[15] Letter 23, “To Sister Élisabeth Martin,” (1640), SW, 34.

Louise Week 2023

In honor of Saint Louise de Marillac’s Feast Day on May 9th, the Division of Mission and Ministry invites the DePaul community to celebrate Louise Week from May 6th-12th.   

As we celebrate DePaul’s 125th anniversary and embrace a time of dreaming, designing, and innovating, Saint Louise provides us a unique example of Vincentian leadership. Her life was a demonstration of love in action through her innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. She along with her female contemporaries provided the shoulders that bore the weight of crisis that they experienced in a country racked by war, entrenched in political upheaval, overwhelmed by the plague, and struck by hunger. In community, these women collaborated across difference, uplifted the gifts in those they served and created new pathways forward to respond to those on the margins. Her story reminds us of the possibility of transforming systems and lives.  

We kick off Louise Week 2023 with Vincentian Service Day on May 6th with a week of celebration to follow.  Just as Saint Louise was sustained by the generosity and goodness of those around her, may we too take the time to pause, uplift, and celebrate with gratitude those who sustain our journey and inspire us.  

Curious to learn more about Louise’s personal journey? Check out this virtual six-day pilgrimage created last year that follows her footsteps across Paris. 

 Join us! 


Vincentian Service Day 

Date: Saturday, May 6 | Location: LPC – Sullivan Athletic Center | Time: 7:30  

Vincentian Service Day (VSD) is an annual tradition at DePaul. Started during the 1998-1999 school year as part of DePaul’s Centennial celebration, over 1000 DePaul students, staff, faculty and alumni participate in a day of service with 50+ community partners in the Chicagoland area and cities around the country. 

Register for Vincentian Service Day

Relax with Louise Holistic Care Event  

Date: Monday, May 8 1:00 – 4:00pm | Location: Cultural Centers, O’Connell Building 300 

Join the Cultural Centers and Meet Me at the Mission student leaders for an afternoon of holistic care. Come take some time to relax and learn about Louise’s approach to caring for others and her community. Each Cultural Center will offer a holistic care practice that is distinct to different identities and cultures.  

DeHub Link: https://cglink.me/2cC/r379548  

Louise Feast Day Mass & Lunch  

Date: Tuesday, May 9 | Location: Loop 11th Floor Terrace, LPC Student Center 104, |  Mass Time: 12:00 pm, Lunch Time: 12:30 pm | Lincoln Park & Loop Campuses 

Celebrate the Feast Day with a celebratory lunch at 12:45 pm. Everyone is welcome! 

  • In the Loop, join us on the 11th floor terrace in the DePaul Center. RSVP here for the Loop lunch.  
  • For the lunch in Lincoln Park, no need to register, just come to Catholic Campus Ministry (Student Center – Suite 104). 

Loop Lunch RSVP

Dinner with the Daughters 

Date: Tuesday, May 9, 6:00 – 7:00 pm | Location: Corcoran Hall, 910 W. Belden Ave.  

Have you ever met a Daughter of Charity? Join Meet Me at the Mission and Residence Education for dinner and conversation to celebrate the Feast of St. Lousie de Marillac. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear these amazing women share their story of how they continue to live the legacy of St. Louise de Marillac today.  

DeHub Link: https://cglink.me/2cC/r379470  

Louise’s Living Legacy: Creating Community in the Business World 

Date: Wednesday, May 10  1:00 – 2:00pm | Location:  Loop, DePaul Center 11013 

Join Meet Me at the Mission and Business student leaders who went on the Vincentian Heritage Tour to have lunch, learn about the legacy of St. Louise de Marillac, and dialogue about how to live out Vincentian values in the professional world. 

DeHub Link: https://cglink.me/2cC/r379535  

Catholic Community Night: Walking in the Footsteps of Louise  

Date: May 10, 5:00 – 6:00 pm | Location: LPC Student Center Suite 104 

Join CCM’s Catholic Community Night and Meet Me at the Mission for a meaningful conversation with students who went on the Vincentian Heritage Tour and walked in the footsteps of St. Louise de Marillac.  

Cafecito con Tepeyac 

May 11, 3:00 – 4:00 | Location: Latinx Cultural Center O’Connell 360 

Join us for a conversation about women’s leadership, the legacy of St. Louise de Marillac and community with Latinx students. Cafecito and a snack will be provided!  

DeHub Link: Cafecito Con Tepeyac- Louise Week – Tepeyac (depaul.edu) 

IRL2 Lab Louise Plushie Creation 

Date: May 12, 3pm | Location: IRL 2 Lab SAC 236 

Join Meet Me at the Mission and IRL student leaders who went on the Vincentian Heritage Tour for a fun event making Louise plushies! Tap into your creativity and learn about St. Louise de Marillac’s innovation.  

DeHub Link: https://cglink.me/2cC/r379471  

 

Holy Perseverance

 

While it is not exactly historically documented, one of my favorite Vincentian stories is how Saint Louise de Marillac made one single decision that drastically preserved the way the Daughters of Charity lived their mission and which continues to prevail even today. A true lesson in perseverance. Holy perseverance. The relative norm for religious women during the seventeenth century was to be cloistered and out of the public eye. However, Saint Louise and her sisters lived a life that was very much a public ministry. They went about doing the practical business of God’s work when and where it was required, without a need to separate themselves from the poor. The story goes that Saint Louise was given a letter requiring the Daughters of Charity to become a cloistered order. Interestingly enough, that letter was never seen… It seems that our beloved and strategic Saint Louise “lost” the letter!

Ultimately, it was Saint Louise who had a clear vision for what the mission was meant to be. The hierarchical authorities at work might have much preferred the sisters busy but out of sight. Yet, quite frankly, Saint Louise simply knew better. We should take some notes from our foundress. How could the Daughters minister in hospitals or establish schools for young girls if they were not permitted to be out in the world? It is a tricky thing to heed authority sincerely, all the while knowing that sometimes no one sees the heart of our mission more clearly than we do. One of the ever-present buzzwords of our day is “systems.” We have an affinity for relegating our societal problems into indecipherably overpowering frameworks that no one person can dismantle alone. “Systems” is the word we use these days as a catchall for intricacies that keep people bound.

No one lives outside of these systems. We are all universally participants in one system or another: there’s simply no societal way around it. But we can actually turn the system on its axis if we work within it to create effective change in the small ways we each hold agency. We can enlist our systems in a fashion that facilitates the greatest good we can achieve; upholding the dignity of others. That’s precisely what Saint Louise did! She may have “lost” the letter, but she kept the mission vibrant.

Working within systems can be a taxing mess, yet often we are called to promote change with our very persistence. We must put our hope into action with steady progress toward what we can influence. While the tasks may be tedious and the hierarchy well-intended, we all have a letter to lose. May Saint Louise be a reminder to us that no one is exempt from systems, and may we draw solace from her words, “I hope that our good God will grant you holy perseverance.”1


1 L.19, To Monsieur L’Abbé de Vaux, 3 May 1640, Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, 28.

Written by: Azucena De La Torre, Ministry Coordinator, Division of Mission and Ministry

For the entire Louise Week Lineup including our daily events and 6-day virtual pilgrimage visit:

Saint Louise and Motherhood

Homily for Sunday, May 9
Feast of St. Louise de Marillac and Mother’s Day
St. Vincent de Paul Parish

This year, Mother’s Day coincides with the Feast Day of Saint Louise de Marillac. In many ways, we have Louise to thank for our parish community. Without Louise, Vincent de Paul would not have made the impact he did during his life. Louise and Vincent worked side by side to serve the needs of those who were poor in seventeenth-century France, and Louise was a driving force in transforming the systems of charity that existed at the time. She and Vincent co-founded the Daughters of Charity, which was the first non-cloistered order of religious women. She was so effective and innovative in her work that she pioneered the field of social work and became the patron saint of social workers.

This is the version of Louise’s life that you might read on the back of her prayer card. It is neat, clean-cut, and orderly. And while it is all true, it is also incomplete. When Peter encounters Cornelius in the first reading today, he says, “Get up. I myself am also a human being.” Louise, like all of our other saints, was a human being—complex, messy, real.

In these unsettled, tumultuous times, Louise’s humanity—her struggles, her perseverance, her faith—speaks to us the most.

Louise’s world looked similar to ours today. She lived through an epidemic, war, and civil unrest, and she saw firsthand the effects of a massive wealth gap which kept the rich in power and oppressed those who were poor. The suffering that she saw on the streets of France shaped her into a compassionate, driven, and strategic agent of change.

Louise was also formed by her own suffering. She never knew her mother and was rejected by her father’s extended family. As a child, she knew how it felt to be other-ized and unseen. When she was unable to pursue her dream of taking vows with a cloistered order of religious sisters, Louise’s family arranged a marriage for her. She had a son whose special needs left her feeling helpless in a society that did not yet understand alternative developmental needs. She nursed her husband through a terminal illness and was widowed by the time she met Vincent.

Anxiety and grief left an imprint on Louise’s life, just as they have left imprints on our lives in the last year. What we are surviving together as a human family—a pandemic, our country’s continued, generations-long systemic racism, an environmental climate reckoning—shapes us each day. For some of us, grief has entered into our homes through the loss of a loved one and the inability to mourn in community. For some, anxiety builds with the touch of each door handle, the fear of going to work in-person, the worry of job security and putting food on the table. Louise’s own journey with mental health teaches us the importance of remaining grounded in ritual, faith, something that is bigger than ourselves. As a healer and herbalist, Louise reminds us to center holistic care in difficult times and to tend to our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Louise’s story reminds us that we are not alone.

For all of the mothers in the pews or joining us virtually today who have counted down the minutes until your kids’ bedtime only to flip the baby monitor on every 20 minutes to peek at their sleeping faces, who have stayed awake worrying about the social and physical effects the pandemic will have on your kiddos, who have felt totally touched out and just need to go to the bathroom alone, who have known boundless joy at your children’s laughter, silliness, and wonder—Louise was also a mother. She sees you even in those moments when you feel that your work, your worry, your needs are unseen. She shares your delight when tiny hands slip acorns into your coat pocket and a soft voice whispers in your ear, “love you sooooo much, mama.”

Some joining us today might feel conflicted or heavy-hearted during the Mother’s Day blessing at the end of mass. You may have a strained relationship with your mother or child. You may not feel called to motherhood. Your pregnancy may have taken you by surprise and come with fear or confusion. You may struggle with fertility or carry the lonely, silent grief of pregnancy loss. Louise knows how it feels to be angry with God and wonder why her plans for her own life were not God’s plans. She walks with you in your uncertainty, and she will continue to accompany you when the road ahead comes into clearer view.

From time to time, I engage in a spiritual practice wherein I read a traditional sacred text with the perspective of God as a woman, as a mother. On this day when we remember Louise, who re-shaped what it means to be a woman in our church, and celebrate all women who share motherly love with the world, I would like to share this spiritual practice with each of you.

From the Gospel according to John:
As the Mother loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you honor my wishes, you will remain in my love,
just as I have honored my Mother’s wishes
and remain in her love.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my wish: love one another as I love you.


Written by: Emily LaHood-Olsen, Ministry Coordinator, Division of Mission and Ministry

For the entire Louise Week Lineup including our daily events and 6-day virtual pilgrimage visit:

Louise de Marillac

Here’s the thing. If you just “read” this about this powerful God-filled woman, Louise de Marillac of the seventeenth century, you’ll come away with a few tidbits of—what to call it— “interesting information.” Good enough. BUT… if you approach the life of Louise in a prayerful way, your interaction with her spirit just might inspire and enliven you to new ways of living your own life. Maybe not right away, but what you learn about her might sit like a pulsing little seed in your imagination, the part of you that’s always picturing how you want to live and who you hope to become.

That’s the thing about us as humans made in the image of God: we’re always capable of becoming more than we are. Another thing about us is that we are deeply relational beings. We’re wired to connect. For instance, I feel a special connection to the pansies I planted and to the birds that come to my feeder.

So much for flowers and birds… what about connecting with a saint like Louise de Marillac?

Here’s the big “Louise Spark” that enlivened me as I read about her in preparation to write this article. It was a real “Geez Louise” realization! A favorite expression I’ve had since I was a kid, I now feel happy to apply it to a real Louise in my life.

As I read about this great lady with her steadfast-trusting-God pioneering spirit, training and guiding the Daughters, I had what Louise called a “Lumière.” I realized that if she hadn’t actively collaborated with Vincent to birth a new form of religious life, one which combined prayer and service of others, I wouldn’t be a Sister of St. Joseph today. The Daughters of Charity burst into history in 1610, and right on their heels, my congregation came into being in 1650. Which—praise Jesus—set about teaching young women, eventually sending them across the Atlantic, and over the course of 300 years, to St. Joseph Academy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana… and, blessedly, to me.

Prior to the Daughters, being a nun meant a cloistered life, and I would have died on the vine being confined inside convent walls like that. I would have had a nervous breakdown and no doubt driven everybody else crazy too. I wanted to be a nun because I wanted to TEACH (really wanted to teach, couldn’t wait to teach). This was because the nuns in my high school were super teachers, alive with faith and humanness and infectious humor, who challenged me to think critically, to stand up and speak in a public setting, and to be curious as all-get-out about the world and people and how God moves throughout it all. My nuns lured me in. Attraction is the way the Holy Spirit works, never the prod of “do your duty” or, worse, “you better do this or you’re going to feel sooo guilty.” So, yes, I was lured, and at age 18 I threw in my lot with the Saint Joes and haven’t looked back.

Thank you, Louise and Vincent. You did the hard work of plowing the furrow, which prepared the soil for other apostolic orders to spring up.

I’m still teaching, sometimes in classrooms, like when I come to DePaul, but also to audiences around the world about human rights. This is what has led me to entrust my archives to you here at DePaul, and to visit with you for a week of sharing each year. It is the Christ-like spirit of the Vincentians that brought me to you and keeps me coming. I love the pictures and quotes of Louise and Vincent that are all over campus. Their spirit permeates every nook and cranny and, hopefully, these few words as well.

Geez Louise! Thank you.

A postscript from Sr. Helen

Check out my collection at: Sr. Helen Prejean Papers or visit Special Collections on the third floor of the library, open again in August 2021. Two wonderful women stand ready to assist you: Jamie Nelson and Morgen MacIntosh Hodgetts. Phone: 773-325-2167.

Reflection by: Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J.

This is Louise Week at DePaul! Learn more about the many activities of the week focused on sustaining the legacy of Louise de Marillac in our lives and work at DePaul and beyond!

 

Louise Week 2021

In honor of Saint Louise de Marillac’s Feast Day on May 9th, the Division of Mission and Ministry invites DePaul students, faculty and staff to celebrate Louise Week 2021. Louise de Marillac lived in a time of great upheaval and crisis. Her life, grief, and loss have the power to speak to us during our own difficult times. In this current moment of loss, fatigue, burn-out, and isolation, Louise exemplifies holistic wellness. She calls us to spirituality, connection, and community care. Louise Week will tap into Louise’s legacy as a leader, healer, and activist to ignite and empower faith-in-action.

Join us May 9-14 to pause, connect, play, and sharpen your social justice tool kit. Read along with daily blog reflections, complete a virtual six-day pilgrimage, and attend many other events created to help our community connect and refresh. 

Follow along on social media for daily reflection and invitations to virtual activities and events:  Facebook  or Instagram @mmatmdepaul

Daily Blog Reflections

Connect with Louise’s wisdom as we move through a series of daily reflections grounding us in a holistic approach to leadership and community care. The themes explored from Louise’s life will reveal themselves to be just as meaningful today as they were during 16th century France. In her role as a wife, mother, religious sister, and activist, Louise can teach us lessons of resilience, selfcare, systemic change, and creative organizing.

Follow along on social media for daily reflections:
Facebook  or Instagram @mmatmdepaul

-or-

Visit “The Way of Wisdom” blog for daily Louise Week 2021 reflections:
https://blogs.depaul.edu/dmm/tag/louiseweek  

Louise Virtual Pilgrimage

Learn about St. Louise de Marillac’s life through a virtual pilgrimage! For six days, we’ll take you on a journey to places that represent defining moments through an interactive map leading you to short videos curated by our pastoral, faculty and alumni team. 

The root of the word pilgrim means stranger. When it comes to making a pilgrimage of any kind, we can think of this root meaning in two ways. First, each of us can feel like a stranger when it comes to figuring out our faith life, especially during these pandemic times. Second, the saints we go to meet along the journey of our pilgrimage are strangers until we encounter them. Let us go together as pilgrims, maybe starting off as strangers and ending up as members of a faith community. Let’s take the first step and get to know Saint Louise de Marillac.” ~Fr. Christopher Robinson, CM

Grab your virtual passport and head over to our pilgrimage page every day from Sunday, May 9th to Friday, May 14th: go.depaul.edu/pilgrimage

Events

Feast Day Mass
Sunday, May 9 | 10 am, 5 pm, and 8 pm
St. Vincent de Paul Parish (in-person)
1010 W. Webster Ave.
Livestream on Instagram: @depaulccm

All are welcome to a special liturgy in honor of the Feast Day of St. Louise de Marillac. For in-person Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, please register on our Facebook events page. Questions? Contact Matt Merkt: mmerkt@depaul.edu

Women’s Power: Waking Up to Justice
Panel with Sr. Helen Prejean & DePaul Student Advocates
Monday, May 10 | 6:00 7:30 pm
Register on DeHub: http://cglink.me/2cC/r13644

DePaul Community: Join us for a transformative conversation with anti-death penalty advocate and activist Sr. Helen Prejean as she shares how she discovered a path that centers human rights as an integral part of faith-in-action and responds to the question “What Must Be Done?” The conversation will be led by student leaders bringing unique perspectives on what it means to wake up to justice in response to our lives today. 

Get to Know a Daughter of Charity
Tuesday, May 11 | 10 am
Facebook Watch Party: @DPUStudentInvolvement

Students: You’re invited to a special interview with a Daughter of Charity, Sr. Angele Hinkley. She will share about the healing role of art in her work in prisons. This event is in partnership with the Mission and Ministry and the Office of Student Involvement. 

DePaul Women’s Network | High Tea with Louise
Tuesday, May 11th |  3:00 4:00 pm
Register on Eventbrite: bit.ly/LouiseHighTea

Faculty and Staff: Join the DePaul Women’s Network during our High Tea event for rejuvenating conversations, laughter and meditation. Take a break during your busy day and make space for self-care and connection with women across the university while sipping on some tea and learning about some of Louise’s favorite self-care routines, community reflections and more!

Lunch with Louise
Wednesday, May 12th | 12:00 1:00 pm
Register here: http://bit.ly/LunchwithLouise

Faculty and Staff:  You’re invited to a virtual “Lunch with Louise,” an adaption of our regular “Lunch with Vincent” bi-quarterly series in honor of Saint Louise de Marillac’s Feast Week! Our presenters will be Coya Paz Brownrigg from The Theatre School and Jackie Kelly-McHale from the School of Music. Themes will explore the intersection of the Arts, Diversity-Equity-Inclusion, and the Mission presented in a creative, conversational way. 

Wellness Wednesday with DePaul Health Promotion & Wellness
Wednesday, May 12 | 4:00 –  4:30 pm
Register on DeHub: http://cglink.me/2cC/r13044

Students: Join HPW and Meet Me at the Mission for a conversation sharing wisdom about Louise de Marillac’s relationship with herself and others related to the mind, body and spirit.  

Jeopardy Game Night
Wednesday, May 12 | 7:00 8:00 pm
Register on DeHub: http://cglink.me/2cC/r13795

Students: Join Louise Week partners for a night of trivia about fun categories like Louise, Disney movies, random animal facts, and more! 

Cafecito con Tepeyac with Community Peacemakers (CPM)
Thursday, May 13 | 3 4pm
Register on DeHub: http://cglink.me/2cC/r13032 

Students: Join Cafecito con Tepeyac and the Community Peacemakers for a restorative justice peace circle to honor Louise’s Lumiere experience and reflect on what grounds us in hope. Participants who attend will receive a Bright Endeavor’s candle with a quote by Louise provided by Meet Me at the Mission.

Virtual Dinner with the Daughters
Thursday, May 13 | 5 pm 
Join us on Zoom: bit.ly/vinfamchatsSQ

Students: Join Meet Me at the Mission, Vincentians in Action, Res Ed and Daughters of Charity from around the country for a virtual dinner and conversation about St. Louise de Marillac’s living legacy of community and systemic change. Participants who attend will receive Louise goodies in the mail provided by Meet Me at the Mission.

 

Reflection, Day Five: Sustained by a Solid Foundation

By
Minister Jené Colvin
Religious Diversity & Pastoral Care Team
Division of Mission & Ministry

You ever say a word enough times or write it enough times that it doesn’t seem like a word anymore? (It’s called semantic satiation by the way. My spouse told me. It helps to be married to someone as nerdy as you are.) Then there are the times we use a term or concept so broadly and so sweepingly that it loses its weight and true meaning. “Community” can sometimes be one of those words. “Systems” sometimes loses its impact because we treat it like salt, instead of the right herb or spice for the conversation. This is all just leading up to one big disclaimer: I’m going to use these terms, but I actually mean them.

Today, we are reflecting on Saint Louise’s lifetime of work to create and change systems for the improvement of people’s lives. Today’s theme is “sustained” because we wanted to talk about how Louise was able to remain dedicated to transforming the world. I had a whole reflection written out about how social justice and self-care are not a dichotomy (don’t worry, I’ll still get into that a little bit). And then I re-read today’s quote from Louise: “The greater the work, the more important it is to establish it on a solid foundation. Thus, it will not only be more perfect, it will also be more lasting.”

I am convinced that the foundation is people.

Even when we acknowledge that taking care of ourselves can often be a matter of access and social-systemic bias rather than individual discipline, we are still left with the question of “how?” How in the world do I keep trying to change the world and not burn out before I am halfway through my life? In everything good we try to do, people are our greatest asset.

Two weeks ago, I attended a virtual birthday party for one of my best friends. Her partner wanted to make sure she was celebrated in a way she truly deserved, despite the fact that we couldn’t gather in person. But, right on brand for her, she spent time during her own birthday party elevating the work her friends were doing. She said, “Everything you need is in this [room]!” Finally, she made sure we had everyone’s receipts and contact information before we all left that virtual space. Jade T. Perry is one of my people. And I am sustained by her.

Even though we’re not in the office, I’ve knocked on my co-workers’ virtual doors for ideas, advice, and help in processing things more times than I can count. There are more than twenty-five faithful, praying, laughter-filled, loving, snack-, resource-, and time-sharing people in Mission and Ministry. They are my people. I am sustained by them.

When I was in high school, my sisters and I started throwing gumbo parties. Everyone would bring one or two ingredients. We all ate, and no one had to break the bank. It’s a practice I’ve repeated over the years. No one judges what someone else chooses to purchase from the list, and everyone eats until they are full. Our friends are always our family, our people. And we have been sustained by them over and over again.

Min. Candace Simpson has a vision she calls “Fish Sandwich Heaven.” It’s a play on the miracle where Jesus feeds the multitude with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish from a little boy in that multitude. In her sermon, A Packed Lunch, she helps us imagine how much can be done when people are generous with their “extra bread.” She is one of my people. And I am sustained by her.

When I thought my life was unraveling beyond repair, that I couldn’t come close to doing what I felt like I was supposed to in life—basically when I was Louise right before the lumière kicked in—people were present with me through it, and people helped me to the next stage. Community has sustained me.

The best work we do is not when we pour out of ourselves until we are empty or until we are dead. Our best work happens in community, where there is reciprocity and a consensual exchange of resources, ideas, and love. Our best work happens when we believe there is actually enough. There is enough time. There is enough for everyone to have what they need. There is enough sun to shine on all of us. There is enough trust and enough stage and enough accolade. There is enough to barter. There is enough to give some away. There is enough help. There is enough opportunity. That is, if we trust that people are our greatest asset: people who share and are shared with.

Every creative way around oppressive systems is found in the connections formed and strengthened between people. It’s the very reason so many systems that we have to fight in the first place stratify or separate us from each other or force us back together without realizing that unity is not sameness.

Saint Louise is heralded as the patron saint of social workers. Social work is a wide-ranging field that addresses everything from the most basic of human needs to advocacy for policy that supports the improvement of our living conditions. More often than not, it’s done by sustaining and improving our connections to each other and the resources we share with each other.

Some of the best wisdom from Saint Louise comes from the letters she wrote to people she was connected to and cared about or who cared about her: her community. Communities are systems. They are not inherently good or bad. Good ones, though, are absolutely necessary and foundational to our work to both impact the world and survive it. Communities can be spaces for creativity and for minding the gaps harmful systems create. Communities can be where people find sustainable care when individual actions and consumption are not enough. See, I told you I’d get around to self-care and social justice.

Conversations about sustaining our ability to engage with and change society very often (and rightly) include conversations about our wellness. This always reminds me of three things: 1) The Audre Lorde quote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare”; 2) The Nap Ministry’s quote “Justice looks like a place to rest”; and 3) Deanna Zandt’s comic about self-soothing, self-care, community care, and structural care.

May you, as I believe Louise did, find good people for a just, solid, and long-lasting foundation for transforming our world.

Reflection, Day Four: Woman Empowering Women

By
Joyana Jacoby Dvorak
Associate Director Vincentian Service & Formation Team
Division of Mission & Ministry

 

All I really wanted to do was go dig for worms with my kids. I couldn’t tolerate having another Zoom meeting, creating another VoiceThread presentation, or developing a new virtual event. During a Zoom session with my class, my two-year-old spilled smoothie all over both of us. Yup. This is life right now—real messy! I’d hit my coronavirus wall. I had fallen into a pattern of pretending that I could still carry on with life and work as usual, even though I am now a kindergarten teacher, daycare provider, remote staff and faculty member experiencing my first-ever pandemic.

I found myself especially uninspired to envision an important project—you guessed it—Louise Week 2020! A few weeks ago, I was excited to elevate Louise’s celebration, something that is long overdue. In the midst of being overwhelmed by all things coronavirus, I found myself suddenly paralyzed by old scripts that “it wouldn’t be good enough” to honor the legacy of a woman who has shaped my Vincentian heart so profoundly.

So, I went and dug for worms and then I did something that is really hard for me to do. I put out a plea for help. I got Louise de Marillac’s biggest fans together on Microsoft Teams! Over the course of an hour we laughed, cried, clapped, cheered, and we all pulled out our personal copies of the Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac. (Yes, we literally grabbed that book from our shelves before leaving DePaul for quarantine!)

We told 400-year-old stories of Louise that resonated deeply with our current struggle. Louise knew what it was like to live through plagues. Her charisma was born from overcoming her struggles. I forgot that we were connecting over Microsoft Teams and felt real connection. We began to remember the best of who we are, and in so doing, we began to honor our dear Louise. I remembered the power of a small group of women. I began to feel I could carry on.

Louise de Marillac was a woman who empowered other women. She formed a community out of the poorest of the poor, creating home for them. She invited young peasant women from rural France into her personal space. She saw their potential, taught them to read and write, and equipped them to make change in their communities. This kind of hospitality was unprecedented during her time, and because of the community she formed, she created whole new opportunities that had never existed for women in society at the time.

Louise knew community was the only way forward. Her final spiritual testament reminds the Daughters of Charity to “live together in great union and cordiality.” She tells her sisters often to “encourage one another.” The word encourage comes from the Old French encoragier—“make strong, hearten.” It means “to inspire with courage, spirit, hope.” Louise knew what she was asking her community to do was not easy and that they would need each other and courage in their hearts.

Now more than ever, I count on my sacred circles of women, my mama tribes, my colleagues, and my students to encourage me. I need them to remind me that it’s ok to not be ok, that my best is going to look different now, that I am enough, that I am loved even when I’m a mess. Sometimes these messages even come in virtual post-it notes from authors like Brené Brown, who reminds us: “Hitting the wall is real. Hard days suck. There is nothing wrong with us. We’re going to be ok.”  Today, the best way to honor Louise is to do what she did 400 years ago—put courage into one another’s hearts and remember we have each other!

Reflection, Day Three: Resilient Creativity

By
Emily LaHood-Olsen
Vincentian Service & Formation Team
Division of Mission & Ministry

When my daughter gets older and asks me to recount life in a time of COVID-19, I will tell her about the day last week when we played in the courtyard in front of our building. Every time a neighbor walked outside, she would pick a dandelion, run toward them saying, “Hi!” and try to hand them the flower. All the while, I gently held her back. I will share my fear that social distancing would severely impact her development—that it would teach her to fear the close contact of others or make her too dependent on screens for social interaction, that it might create a stunted understanding of community.

I will share with her the frustration and anger that bubbled up in the face of social inequity, the disregard of science and human life, the apparent inability to mobilize to get safety equipment to grocery store workers, public transit drivers, medical professionals, and hospital janitorial staff.

I will tell her that the word COVID, in a word, was resilience.

When all this began, I prepared myself for the trauma of these times. I expected to be inundated with news of COVID-related tragedy and prepared my spirit accordingly. What I did not expect was to grieve a perfectly normal, non-COVID death. Five weeks into quarantine, my father-in-law died from undetected bone cancer.

Since then, my husband and I have been navigating a complex, confusing state of mourning. We cannot fly to Washington to be with family or ritualize his passing. We cannot gather in person with our community to receive hugs or share memories. We cannot ask friends to babysit our little one so that we can take some time to simply be sad with one another. The lakefront, our church, and the coffee shop that brings us comfort down the street are all closed; and, we are living each day within the walls that carry our grief.

The plans we made to face the unknown at the onset of shelter-in-place are now completely out the window. We are learning a new kind of resilience.

This experience has prompted me to think about Louise and her journey. Louise experienced an incredible amount of grief and disappointment throughout her life. She was rejected by her family, deprived of her education when her father died, and denied her dream to become a Dominican nun. Although she felt marriage was not her calling, she entered into an arranged marriage. Her son had developmental issues that she did not have the resources to understand. Her husband grew incredibly ill, and she cared for him through his death.

Nothing in Louise’s early life went the way she planned; and yet, she remained resilient. This resilience equipped her to shatter the barriers that blocked her path.

Louise saw the needs of the world and responded in radically creative ways. In a society that offered only two options for women—marriage or cloistered religious life—Louise forged a new way. The Daughters of Charity were the first religious women to be out in the world, unconfined by convent walls, serving people on the streets. Oral history tells us that Louise “misplaced” the letter from the Vatican mandating that the Daughters should be a cloistered order.

Seeing that the Vincentian family understood the reality of those who were poor and marginalized, Louise bucked tradition and had the Daughters make their vows to the Vincentians, not to the Vatican. To this day, instead of making lifelong vows Daughters renew theirs annually.

In the face of a broken class system, Louise welcomed women from peasant families into her home, taught them how to read, and recognized the gifts that they could offer the community. This was unheard of for a woman of social class and means.

Louise’s faith and creativity made her open to new possibilities.

We are all learning new ways to foster resilience. Whether coping with feelings of isolation or weathering economic hardship or grieving the illness or death of a loved one, we’re forced to remind ourselves day after day that we can do hard things. And within these hard things, there is an opportunity to vision a world that has never existed before.

When this time of pandemic is over, our call as Vincentians will not be to return to life as usual. It will be to build the world we dream is possible.

A world that values people over profits and sees healthcare as an essential human right.

A world committed to healing our ailing planet instead of returning to fossil fuel dependence.

A world where neighbors delight in one another’s presence and know each other’s names.

In the midst of the unknown, we all have an opportunity to tap into our inner Louise, to build a sense of resilient creativity. Let us dream of the way the world could be, and give those dreams life in the face of hard times.