“What a blessing to be a member of a Community because each individual shares in the good that is done by all!” — Vincent de Paul
When we pause to consider all that the world needs as we begin the year 2022, many would agree that, among other things, we certainly could use more people who are motivated and able to act as community builders. This holds true not only for broader society and in our neighborhoods and families, but also within our DePaul community. The challenges of the past 20+ months of the pandemic, including our increasingly virtual and remote existence, have frayed the relational fabric of our communal life. If we at DePaul are to continue as a “community gathered together for the sake of the mission,” then we need community builders to help weave together new bonds of connection that ultimately benefit us all.
Among your New Year’s resolutions, I invite you to ask yourself: What can I do in the days and year ahead to build or rebuild relationships, bridges, bonds, shared memories and experiences, shared understanding, a greater sense of belonging, and a common purpose among my DePaul colleagues?
A strong sense of community among us creates a healthier and more vibrant workplace and an educational environment that better serves students. In our broader society and in our neighborhoods and families, a little bit of intentionality in connecting with others and weaving relational bonds improves the quality of life for all.
Vincent de Paul recognized that the mission he envisioned was only possible through a community. It was not something he could do on his own. The same is true of the Vincentian mission we envision at DePaul—and perhaps also of the big-picture vision you have for your own life and work. We need others to join us, support us, and challenge us in positive ways if we are to succeed. This is made possible largely through and because of the relationships we have taken the time to cultivate and sustain.
Make it your New Year’s resolution to be a community builder in some concrete ways. Here are ten suggestions. Just pick one and do it, or come up with your own!
- Serve as a hospitable, cheerful, welcoming host to a newcomer or simply to people who have been away for a while and whom you haven’t had the chance to see in person.
- Affirm or give thanks to a colleague for something they have done or just because of who they are and what they mean to you.
- Connect to other people across departments/divisions/silos during or through meetings, a coffee or lunch gathering, a handwritten card, or a simple phone call or email offering a random hello or “thinking of you.”
- Make note of the significant life events of others and follow up with them later to see how they went.
- If you are feeling irritated or out of sorts, make a commitment to hold your tongue and consider possible constructive solutions and words first, rather than bitter or harmful ones.
- Make more of a conscious effort to stop what you are doing and truly listen when interacting with a colleague or neighbor.
- Follow through on an idea that emerges for you regarding how you might show compassion and care toward another.
- Just simply show up for the life events, programs, presentations, or celebrations that are important to others and for which your presence would be a show of support.
- Find ways to share fun and laughter with friends and colleagues.
- Read and share a meaningful quote, article, or book with another person.
None of these alone will “build community” once and for all. They are clearly not shared as a panacea or solution to some of the complex societal and institutional challenges and structural problems that we face collectively. However, if we follow these ideas, they will put us all in a better position to work together to do “what must be done.”
Reflection by: Mark Laboe, Associate VP, Division of Mission and Ministry
 Conference 1, “Explanation of the Regulations,” July 31, 1634, CCD, 9:2. Available at https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/34/.