Recently, due to a series of unique and unforeseen events, I received a surprising invitation. I was asked to stand-in as the “coach” for two DePaul student athletes competing at a tennis tournament in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What exactly were my qualifications for this role? Really, none at all… except for a relationship with DePaul Athletics, an amateur’s keen interest in the sport, and an open schedule and a valid driver’s license! Despite the spark of enthusiasm I immediately felt, given my lack of formal credentials it isn’t surprising I had reservations about this undertaking.
But looking back, I am so glad I did not give into my anxieties and decline the invitation. For if I had, I would have missed a truly memorable and enriching experience. The joy of connecting with students, the growth that results from new challenges, the fulfillment that comes from contributing to a greater good… none of these would have occurred in quite the same way if I hadn’t been open to opportunity.
As I reflect on our Vincentian Family’s 400-year history “gathered for the sake of the mission,” I know Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Frédéric Ozanam and others must have experienced fear and hesitation as they made decisions and took actions significantly greater than the one I described above. They made decisions involving risks and rewards, with outcomes that were uncertain. Understanding the challenges ahead, towards the end of his life Vincent de Paul exhorted his community members to, “Go, learn how to free yourself and to be open to God’s Will; let that be your lesson.” Vincent must have believed that the best decisions are the ones made from faith, love, and freedom.
All of us at DePaul make choices every day for ourselves, others, and our institution. As we scan our horizon of opportunities and search our hearts for guidance, are we open to the invitations that excite us and hold out the promise of life? In those moments of surprise or hesitation, perhaps we at DePaul can remember these words of Vincent: “Let’s be courageous! Let’s go wherever God may call us… let’s not fear anything.”
Are there invitations presenting themselves right now that spark excitement in you? What would it look like if you said “yes” to those invitations?
What might you do in your life that would enable you to become more open to life-giving opportunities? What might make you more open to the will of God?
 Conference 205, Indifference (Common Rules, Chap. II, Art. 10), 16 May 1659, CCD, 12:197.
 Conference 135, Repetition of Prayer, 22 August 1655. Ibid., 11:265.
Written by: Tom Judge, Division of Mission and Ministry
This year Muslims at DePaul and around the world celebrated our most important holiday of the year, Eid-ul-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, on July 20.(1) This holiday comes at the end of the Hajj Pilgrimage season. It commemorates the sacrifices made by the Prophet Abraham and his family, especially his son Ishmael and Ishmael’s mother Hagar, recognized as the founders of the holy city of Mecca.(2)
An insight into our human experience found both in spiritual traditions and in human psychology is the value of sacrifice in nurturing love. It creates powerful relationships and builds real community. This can be seen in the relationship between the human and God, but also in relationships amongst people. During the Hajj Pilgrimage rituals and Eid celebrations, as Muslims we remind ourselves about how Abraham and Hagar and Ishmael drew closer to God through the sacrifices they made for God. We encourage ourselves to follow a similar path. In our Vincentian tradition, the importance of sacrifice is linked closely to the Vincentian virtue of mortification. It is sometimes described as giving up something we value for the sake of something more valuable.(3)
I was moved by a powerful conversation related to this theme between journalist Ezra Klein and child psychologist Alison Gopnik.(4) They discussed the question of why parents care and sacrifice so much for their children. A common answer might be that parents do so because they love them. Of course, this isn’t wrong, but Gopnik suggests that we look at it the other way around. It could be said that parents love their children because of all they have sacrificed and done to care for them. We see this not only in interpersonal relationships but in people’s relationships with projects or achievements. For example, we might feel that a DePaul degree is especially precious when it results from a great deal of sacrifice, not only by the student but by the family and their broader community. We also may feel that our DePaul community itself is most precious to those who have sacrificed and cared most for it, and not just to those who have concretely benefitted most from it.
Considered this way, the invitation to sacrifice for each other is a valuable opportunity to build community. In reflecting on our lives we realize that whenever we truly work for something we believe in or make the effort to care for others, that although we speak of sacrifice, in the end we gain much more than anything we give up. In fact, we often do not feel that whatever we sacrificed is “lost” to us at all. Those who have experienced this learn that a community created by shared sacrifice is not a burden on some but a gift to all. However, when based in an institution, the sacred potential of such community must be protected by those who have power or authority. This must be done to ensure that the community lives up to the hope and trust people are placing in it, and to make sure that none are oppressed or taken advantage of.
Does this idea of sacrifice making relationships more meaningful and communities stronger resonate with your experience? In this respect, are family or other personal relationships different from how you see the role of your workplace in your life?
Some people may have experienced personal disappointment or even abuse resulting from invitations to sacrifice. As alluded to above, the invitation to sacrifice undoubtedly involves vulnerability. How would you describe the difference between healthy, more meaningful sacrifices made for the sake of individuals, institutions, or communities from those which are unhealthy and can lead to abuse?
1) As the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the days on which holidays are observed on the solar calendar shift from year to year.
After 35 years, DePaul University has fully revised its mission statement. Through a 10-month participatory, historically grounded, yet forward-thinking process, direct feedback was gathered from over 600 community members. The updated concise statement is relevant and apt for the DePaul we all know, and for the DePaul of which we dream.
On March 4th, the revised DePaul University Mission Statement and its supporting document were approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees. The approval process went faster than an expected May timeframe. I believe this demonstrates that the participatory nature of the mission statement review process worked as we had hoped. It proves the value of shared governance in helping us to define a mutual understanding of who we are and how we want to live out our common mission in this historic moment.
The review process was a beautiful, concrete expression of communal discernment. While many may not realize it, our approach of inclusive reflection and community articulation of common dreams and values is very much in the spirit of Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac. As this process has achieved with many other institutions of the worldwide Vincentian Family, it both captured and embodied the Vincentian spirit so valued at DePaul.
Invitations to review the mission statement went out on Newsline and social media, through Colleges, departments, student groups, and administrative offices, via SGA and Faculty and Staff Councils. We listened to many voices at over 70 Dialogues. Many were impassioned and advocated for mission-related ideas that they felt were most important. I can say with confidence that great care was given to revising the statement, down to negotiating the meaning and inclusion of individual words. For instance, including “environmental” justice for students and others fiercely dedicated to sustainability. Or, discussing the wording “with special attention to” as all are served and all have agency, yet we must recognize our Vincentian legacy of reaching out especially to those most in need who are not well-served by systems. It is my belief that every word of the statement has deep meaning and that each word illustrates the common themes of DePaul’s mission that emerged clearly from the audiences we relied upon for community input.
DePaul stakeholders agreed that we are Catholic, Vincentian, and anchored in the global city of Chicago, and that our university educates the whole person in a variety of ways that uphold human dignity. Review participants insisted that DePaul commit to addressing the great societal challenges of our day as both an educational institution connected to local and global communities, and through our graduates whom we hope will be change agents for greater good as well as successful in their professions. The umbrellas of Vincentian personalism and professionalism express the culture and approach at DePaul that many feel differentiate it from other institutions. As we served an immigrant population in the late 1800s, so do we continue to educate underserved and underrepresented communities today.
Other values and core commitments that commonly emerged through the review process are summarized in the statement’s supporting document, “Distinguishing Characteristics, Core Values, and Commitments.” I am hopeful this document will be referenced by link in every online presentation of the new DePaul Mission Statement and I encourage you to read it.
The participatory review process was itself an education for the DePaul community. Before preparing for a dialogue or taking our survey, many of the participants had never read the full four-page mission statement. Many had never meaningfully discussed with colleagues or fellow students what DePaul’s mission meant to them or how they believed it must be communicated to remain relevant and compelling. A nearly universal desire became apparent for a new concise mission statement that could be fully known, embraced, and integrated into life at DePaul. This was also recommended to the university during the last Higher Learning Commission accreditation process. I hope the new statement fulfills that wish.
In many ways the statement review process—comprised of a rigorous four-phase approach of historical review, capturing mission in action through Seeds of the Mission videos, over 70 mission statement dialogues and survey responses, and the Board survey—seems completed after a year. But the work of the new mission statement has just begun.
It is time to begin sharing the statement broadly on websites, in syllabi, and on signage where it can be easily seen. Departments and areas need to reflect on their own internal mission and vision statements, and on their website and marketing language. We must integrate the language and ideas of the new DePaul Mission Statement and “Distinguishing Characteristics, Core Values, and Commitments” into our work. We must all attend to the ideals of the statement as more than just words on paper, but as a mission for which we are gathered that provides a central focus for what we do.
Thank you to all who participated in the review process. And thanks to all who will be enlivened by the new statement, making decisions in using it as a guide, holding DePaul accountable for living it, and celebrating our common Vincentian spirit. Together, We Are DePaul.
Rev. Guillermo (Memo) Campuzano, CM
Vice President of Mission and Ministry
DePaul University Mission Statement Adopted by the Board of Trustees on March 4, 2021
As an innovative Catholic, Vincentian university anchored in the global city of Chicago, DePaul supports the integral human development of its students. The university does so through its commitment to outstanding teaching, academic excellence, real world experience, community engagement, and systemic change. DePaul prepares graduates to be successful in their chosen fields and agents of transformation throughout their lives.
Guided by an ethic of Vincentian personalism and professionalism, DePaul compassionately upholds the dignity of all members of its diverse, multi-faith, and inclusive community. Through education and research, the university addresses the great questions of our day, promoting peaceful, just, and equitable solutions to social and environmental challenges. Since its founding in 1898, DePaul University has remained dedicated to making education accessible to all, with special attention to including underserved and underrepresented communities.
“To leave God for God is not leaving God at all, that is, to leave one work of God to do another, either of greater obligation or of greater merit.”1
As we know, St. Vincent de Paul was a person of great faith who found strength in prayer and the belief that an unfaltering, loving God was active in our lives. So, it may seem a little odd to hear that Vincent once told the Daughters of Charity to leave God. What could Vincent have possibly meant by this?
To understand Vincent’s words, we need to appreciate the context of his theology and how he lived his faith. Vincent de Paul possessed a deeply incarnational faith, which manifested itself in very real and practical ways. In other words, because Vincent believed that all humans are created in the image and likeness of God, the act of serving one’s neighbor was a concrete expression of serving God. Therefore, this belief undergirded Vincent’s words when he told the Daughters that even if they were engaged in meditation, prayer, or spiritual reading, they were to stop whatever they were doing if a poor person sought help from them. As Vincent explained, such an act of service was not to leave God. Instead, it was to engage in a work of God that was of greater obligation or merit than their meditation and prayers. Thus, Vincent is seen to have valued concrete acts of service more than individual acts of piety.
Over the centuries, the seeds of Vincent’s pragmatism have taken root and flourished in myriad ways through the foundation of numerous social service organizations, groups, hospitals, and educational institutions. DePaul University is one of these fruits. Today, one of the signs that Vincentian pragmatism is alive and well is through DePaul’s collective embrace of Vincentian personalism. This practice calls us to serve our students and treat one another with compassion, empathy, and a high level of professionalism. And another sign is our ability to respond nimbly to current issues, as witnessed by our ongoing response to the pandemic.
We are living in a time that continues to be fraught with many challenges and obstacles. Yet amid our tumultuous present, how might an echo from our past still be heard, inviting us in new, innovative ways to answer Vincent’s pragmatic call?
1 Conference 30, The Rules, 30 May 1647, CCD, 9:252. See: CCD Vol. 9
Reflection by: Siobhan O’Donoghue, Ph.D., Director of Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission and Ministry.
At DePaul, we understand Catholicism to be an invitation to foster a universal human family. It is because of our Catholicism, not despite it, that we value interfaith dialogue and spiritual exploration. Throughout DePaul’s history, our Catholic, Vincentian identity also led us to admit immigrant populations, women, and students of color before many other universities across the country.
From the very beginning, Vincent made it clear that love for the “most abandoned” was the central focus of the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity. In a conference in January 1657 Vincent preached on the importance of the love for poor:
God loves the poor, consequently, He loves those who love the poor; for when we truly love someone, we have an affection for his friends and for his servants. Now, the Little Company of the Mission strives to devote itself ardently to serve persons who are poor, the well-beloved of God; in this way, we have good reason to hope that, for love of them, God will love us. Come then, my dear confreres, let’s devote ourselves with renewed love to serve persons who are poor, and even to seek out those who are the poorest and most abandoned.¹
Our Vincentian tradition places unheard stories at the center of the narrative. It calls us to hear the needs of those who have been made poor and marginalized and to respond with compassion, solidarity, and justice.Daughters of Charity today speak about “need not creed” guiding their response. The ministries of the Daughters of Charity around the world serve the most vulnerable without judgement or exclusion. The Vincentian tradition highlights communities’ assets and strengths so that those who are poor may be agents of their own transformation.
Vincentians not only welcome but also seek out those who are invisible and forgotten.Because we are Vincentian, because we are Catholic, all are welcome.
“There are no people in the world more obliged to do this than we are, nor any Community that should apply itself more to the external practice of heartfelt charity.” – 207, Charity, Common Rules, Chap. II, Art. 12, 30 May 1659, CCD, 12:214.
Thus far, 2020 has been an historic year—for DePaul, for our nation and for our world. Importantly, it is a story that is still being written. Before us lies an opportunity in the weeks and months ahead to shape how this year will be remembered and described to future generations. The calendar year remaining will go a long way toward determining the net impact of this period on our human community for years to come. How will we be remembered? Will it be as a generation that rose to the challenge and became stronger and better as a result, or as one that allowed difficulties to cause further harm both in the present and for those who follow us?
After the deepened revelation of our fragile interdependence made evident during the COVID crisis, will we see our inherent connection to one another as a beautiful gift or as a dangerous threat? After the killing of George Floyd and the long legacy that predates his murderous death, will we be inspired to make concrete changes in our personal and collective lives, to actively seek to correct the systemic injustices of racism and make amends for their impact? After this tumultuous year, what will be the resulting vision and shared goals that guide our future efforts to create a flourishing society? Will examples of generosity, courage, and sacrificial love, service, and commitment become central to the storyline of 2020? Will their positive energy continue to ripple outward into the future? Will actions for a more just and inclusive society result in the transformation of policies, minds, and hearts?
The result will depend upon our doing the work of writing the history of 2020, which will be determined by our actions in the present. Indeed, as a Vincentian university community, “there are no people in the world more obliged to do this than we are, nor any community that should apply itself more…” to this work. We now have an opportunity to create and be shapers of our history, and to not just passively accept the circumstances of our life.
What is at the heart of the human community you want to live and work in, and that you want for future generations to remember? What would it mean for you to begin to work now toward that vision? How can we act today so that our university more fully lives out its unique Vincentian mission of service to society in the future? How can you begin to plant the seeds necessary for this future vision?
Mission and Ministry is Looking for your Input
VSI Calls for Proposals Related to Crises
The Vincentian Studies Institute would like to invite everyone from the DePaul community to participate in a special call to create and submit publishable materials dedicated to the unprecedented crises we have had to confront in 2020. We are asking for your contributions in the hope that they help us to reflect on what has happened and is still happening.
Every type of production is welcomed: academic papers, short essays, poems, fiction, paintings, photographs, videos, etc. Individual or collective proposals are welcomed. Shorter works will be featured online, promoted by the Division of Mission & Ministry, and shared with the university community. Longer written works may be featured in a special collection published in the VSI’s scholarly journal Vincentian Heritage. We ask that you submit your Proposal or short summary of your intended contribution, to: firstname.lastname@example.org Please do so before July 31, 2020. Proposals will be reviewed by the VSI board and you will be notified of their decision by August 21, 2020. Once accepted, final drafts of your contributed work must be received by January 15, 2021.
Seeds of Mission Campaign
What initiatives, stories, and people serve as authentic and striking examples of DePaul’s Vincentian mission for you? Please let us know by submitting your input to the: Seeds of Mission campaign
For a full description of the Seeds of Mission Campaign: Click here
“Every good work…we do is a grain of seed for eternal life.” – St. Elizabeth Seton ¹
“The review and possible revision of DePaul University’s Mission Statement is happening at an unprecedented time that combines many different aspects related to the Vincentian mission.
The Covid-19 pandemic has unveiled that our social fabric is broken, as illustrated by a healthcare system that excludes most people in the world. The labor system has been exposed by the scale of unemployment and the sheer number of workers lacking rights, protection, or insurance. Our political system has also been exposed. Individual good and personal gain dominate political agendas, and political will has been compromised by business interests and corruption. What has been lost is the common good, which is needed now more than ever.
The recent killing of George Floyd and the national and global unrest that followed is alerting us that large portions of society are long tired of racism, exclusion, and discrimination. In the wake of these crises comes an outcry for systemic change and transformation.
From the perspective of our Vincentian mission we want to be a part of this call to action, this movement. DePaul’s mission must never be separated from the needs of the world. The Seeds of the Mission Campaign seeks to embrace this movement for justice that current events are inspiring. We expect the Seeds of the Mission campaign to lift up stories of mission-in-action and demonstrate how people make an impact at DePaul, in our city, across our nation, and throughout our world.” – Fr. Memo Campuzano, C.M.
What is the Seeds of the Mission Campaign?
“Nature makes trees put down deep roots before having them bear fruit, and even this is done gradually.” -Vincent de Paul ²
The Seeds of the Mission Campaign invites our DePaul community to witness, uphold, and celebrate DePaul’s mission-in-action as a tool for revising the university mission statement. A seed is a symbol of hope, something we need now more than ever. Rooted in the Vincentian practice of valuing experience, the Seeds of the Mission Campaign will gather stories of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners living the DePaul mission.
We recognize and celebrate the many diverse, creative, and deeply rooted seeds already answering the Vincentian question, “What Must Be Done?” Listening to and amplifying Seeds of the Mission stories helps us to understand who we have been, and who we are now, so that we may transform into who we are called to be in the twenty-first century.
Gathering Seeds of the Mission Stories
Over the course of the summer, the Division of Mission and Ministry will gather Seeds of the Mission stories. The process of revising a mission statement is about more than changing words on paper. It is about fostering ownership of the mission and taking action to live it out. To better do so, we need to hear your stories!
As we come to the end of an historic and unprecedented quarter, take some time to reflect on the Seeds of the Mission within your DePaul communities, both now and in the past. What stories do we need to tell to honor and celebrate all we have lived through together? We encourage DePaul students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners to participate. The following questions are meant to be guides, but if you find yourself reflecting on the Seeds of the Mission in a different way, please share that as well:
Who do you see living the DePaul mission?
During your time at DePaul, what creative ways have you answered the Vincentian question, “What must be done?”
Where have you witnessed creative, transformative, or inventive love, solidarity, and education?
Whose actions planted seeds of hope in the difficult soil of confusion, pain, and transition?
The Division of Mission and Ministry is pleased to announce that the Mission Committee of the Board of Trustees has approved a plan to review and possibly revise DePaul’s mission statement. The 2020-21 Mission Statement Review is beginning now, and you are invited to participate in the process.
Building on the Vincentian practice of valuing experience and creating guidelines or statements that generally affirm what is already taking place as well as communicating aspirational goals, the review of the DePaul mission statement will take place through a 4-part process:
Rolling out a “Seeds of the Mission” campaign to share stories and gain insights about where the mission is already operative at DePaul through highlighting mission in action. This campaign will start this month and its details will soon be shared.
Creating a document over the summer and fall based on academic research about the history of DePaul’s purpose/mission statements that also brings in external perspectives through accreditation documents to outline how DePaul’s mission statements and understanding of mission have evolved to meet DePaul’s changing reality over time.
Conducting a Mission Survey with the members of the Board of Trustees in the fall.
Holding institutional mission dialogues in the fall to foster an understanding of DePaul’s mission with diverse community stakeholders as we seek to ensure DePaul’s mission statement reflects mission in a 21st century context.
In the winter, the information gained through executing the phased plan above will quite likely feed into a revised university mission statement, which we imagine will be concise, memorable, and actionable, and which would be accompanied by a lengthier supporting academic document. A revised mission statement, if warranted, would be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval in May 2021.
Division of Mission and Ministry staff expect that the Seeds of the Mission campaign and mission dialogues will involve people at all levels of the university in the mission statement review process and expect it to generate new ideas for DePaul moving into the future, provide an opportunity to educate people on the mission, and increase DePaul community members’ knowledge about and ownership of our shared mission statement and mission.
We look forward to involving you in this process!
Guillermo Campuzano, C.M., Vice President for the Division of Mission and Ministry
You will attain this happiness if you practice faithfully humility, gentleness, and charity toward the poor…1
Vincent de Paul remembered the moment captured in the featured illustration as pivotal for him in transforming his sense of mission and vocation. The sacred dignity of this poor, dying peasant became evident to him. With Madame de Gondi’s help, Vincent came to realize there were many people like this who lacked vital spiritual and physical care, and that existing systems within both the Church and society routinely neglected their needs.
Over time, Vincent de Paul grew to be consistent in living the mission he professed. He encouraged his companions to look at reality through the perspective of those enduring poverty, those who suffered basic needs, or those who were routinely left out by the status quo of church, state, and society at the time. He would ask his community, in essence: What do these people need and how do our actions and decisions impact them? How can our resources be used to better serve them? Vincent further recognized the importance of forming leaders who shared his vision and were committed to this sense of mission. He envisioned a community of solidarity that surrounded and supported people in need, and in so doing, enabled all to flourish.
Compassion and care for those struggling with the effects of material and systemic poverty is essential to a Vincentian perspective. Their realities make a claim on us, inviting us to take action. They call us to make changes individually and collectively to address their immediate needs, as well as to confront the root causes of their suffering. This is what we are challenged to do when asking ourselves what has come to be known as the Vincentian question: “What must be done?”
The COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath have required us to make difficult decisions about what we value, as well as the vision we will pursue, both individually and collectively. Vincent’s example invites us to center the perspective of those in poverty, or of those suffering or in pain, and to care for them. Currently, this includes those facing the horrible effects of COVID-19, those who have died, those who have lost loved ones, or those struggling because of unemployment. Vincent’s vision ensures that all people experience a sense of human community and that they are given both the opportunities and resources necessary to flourish. For Vincent, safeguarding hope for those left behind or forgotten by society, especially those in dire conditions, was a necessary part of working for the good of all humanity.
How might “seeing with Vincentian eyes” shape our vision for how to respond to the current crisis? For the education we offer? For the way we go about business as a university? What does it invite you to consider in your work as a colleague, or in your role as a neighbor, citizen, or family member?
12787, To Sister Françoise Ménage, In Nantes, 12 February 1659, CCD, 7:471.
Associate Vice President
Faculty and Staff Engagement
Division of Mission and Ministry
Take a moment to remember how many times you have greeted somebody over the last day. How many times have you asked the question, “How are you?”
In our fast-paced society, it is easy for this question to get lost in the flurry as we respond with a simple “fine.” In their written correspondence, we can see that Louise and Vincent paused to check in on one another. In one letter, as she was inquiring about Vincent’s health, Louise wrote, “I would truly like to know how you really are.”
Showing care and interest in the well-being of one another is at the heart of Vincentian personalism. When we take time to be present to those around us and hear how they are really doing, we honor their dignity and personhood.
How can you take time today to be truly present to those in your life – whether in your workplace, local community or family?
Reflection by: Emily LaHood-Olsen, Ministry Coordinator for Service Immersions, Division of Mission and Ministry
Citation: Letter 649. Monsieur Vincent. January 4, 1660. Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, page 671.