Gratitude, Self-Acceptance, and the Unapologetic Cringe of Tumblr

“Every day of life more and more increases my gratitude to Him for having made me what I am.”[1]
– Elizabeth Ann Seton

What do cringe, gratitude, and Vincentian service have to do with one another? And how can we apply it to our own vibrant community here at DePaul? Let’s find out.

First, let’s dive into this first quote from Elizabeth Ann Seton, founder of the American Sisters of Charity, modeled after the Daughters of Charity: “Every day of life more and more increases my gratitude to Him for having made me what I am.” We can read this statement in any number of ways: gratitude for simply being alive, appreciation for her privilege and station, thankfulness for gifting her with certain talents and capabilities, or even endowing her with a particular personality and passion. Perhaps the most Vincentian thing to do would be to take an “all of the above” approach: an appreciation of the whole person, of all that she is, and can be. This might sound a little conceited (thanks for making me so incredible!), but I think it points more towards an inspiring model of self-acceptance. Seton, who is pointedly aware of her own shortcomings, still accepts herself as she is—oddities, weaknesses, talents, and all—and is grateful to be herself.

Which brings us to the concept of cringe and unapologetic self-acceptance. As bit of backstory, the social media landscape has been … going through a bit of transformational collapse. We need not go into every sordid detail, but the memes have been hilarious even as the demise of Twitter has been bittersweet (with a heavy dose of Schadenfreude). Many are looking for a new social media home with no real viable candidates. It’s into this gulf that Tumblr, which never really went away, has emerged its cringy head.

The blog site, home to niche fandoms and a quirky sensibility, has found a resurgence. If Twitter is (was?) the land of hot political takes by ‘professional’ journalists and pseudo-intellectuals, Tumblr is currently where users are, en masse, deciding to make up a fake 1970’s Martin Scorsese movie that they have all pretended to see (which again, doesn’t exist), and then arguing about it. They’ve even created a fake trailer. It’s a weird place. But at its best it’s a place where people are unapologetically themselves and embody a kind of self-acceptance modeled in that Seton quote. There’s power in that: a community that not only recognizes but celebrates each other’s delightful individuality and quirks. It’s also very Vincentian: a recognition and celebration of each person’s sacred dignity.

But why bring up Tumblr, cringe, and unapologetic weirdness in a post about gratitude? How does this have any bearing on our own DePaul community and mission? There are many different things that might make us cringe, but usually they say more about ourselves (and our lack of self-acceptance) than the object of our embarrassment. By accepting ourselves—most especially the cringiest aspects of ourselves—and being grateful for the way we are and can be as whole people, we can accept others and flourish as a community. Vincent de Paul was no stranger to this: his lifelong partner in service, Louise de Marillac, found him utterly repugnant upon first meeting him! But they were able to work their way through these differences and we are still living out their mission today, four hundred years later.

This brings us to a final quote from Louise de Marillac herself: “I hope that your gratitude will place you in the disposition necessary to receive the graces you need to serve your sick poor in a spirit of gentleness and great compassion.”[2] Ultimately, our gratitude and self-acceptance should be directed outwards, in compassion, and in pursuit of the mission. Let’s celebrate our community’s own idiosyncrasies and be grateful for the wonderful diversity of personalities and passions.


Reflection by: Alex Perry, Division of Mission & Ministry

[1] 7.98, Draft to Mrs. William Raborg, [June 1817], Elizabeth Bayley Seton: Collected Writings, 2:488, at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/11/.

[2] L.383, To My Very Dear Sister Anne Hardemont, November 13 (1653), Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, 434, at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/ldm/.

Vincent de Paul: An Essential Memory

This week we are celebrating the best of our spiritual heritage: the life of Saint Vincent de Paul.

I discovered St. Vincent when I joined the Congregation of the Mission at 18 years of age on February 5, 1984. I was looking for community and a communal experience. I rapidly felt in love with him, his life, his commitment, his humanism, and his endless creativity. Over the past 38 years I have come to understand that Vincent is an important part of an infinite constellation of guardians, prophets, and witnesses. He is part of a constant, sacred memory of the God of a thousand names and expressions in a vast array of religions, cultures, and spiritualities.

Vincent de Paul is a very human prophet and teacher capable of provoking a yearning within us for God, the God of the poor and the most abandoned. This memory and our yearning take concrete form as something bigger than our own egos. We recognize it as something essential for a peaceful and sustainable coexistence in this, our common home. Vincent’s life and his work were inspired by the memory of God, a memory and yearning for compassion, mercy, solidarity, transformation, and love and justice. The memory of God in Vincent’s life is a strength that forces us to go to the margins, to welcome the stranger, to console the afflicted, to free the oppressed, and to “leave no one behind.”[1]

Today Vincent de Paul is a living memory, and our yearning must therefore include working for racial equity and to overcome structural racism and systems of white supremacy. For us, we must recognize the historical reality of the unfortunate connections some members of the Congregation of the Mission had to slavery in the nineteenth century. And we must articulate the connections that enslavement and the legacy of institutional racism have to our present. The yearning of God must be a yearning for truth and transformation.

I am certain that Vincent himself experienced a memory and yearning for God early in life. “He left his home diocese, Dax, and moved to the capital around 1607, where he began to make contacts among the ecclesiastical and even social elite. Being surrounded with refugees, the poor, and the marginalized, his attention gradually shifted away from his personal advancement toward service given to his needy sisters and brothers.”[2] The poor provoked in Vincent an essential memory of who he was called to be. They became both unique human beings endowed with sacred dignity and a living memory of the revelation of God. Every single day they called him to service, to compassion, to solidarity, and to transformation. In Vincent’s heart relationships with those who were poor led to a constant yearning for God, for the best of our human experience. They transformed his very existence.

Vincent was a humble man. He never aspired or claimed to be a “little god” or tried to control everything and everyone. He lived with a yearning and sense of God’s presence throughout his life, especially when doubts or conflict surrounded him. He felt this essential yearning and connection to God in his daily work, in the loving coexistence of his community, and in the day-to-day struggles to sustain all the projects he created to help victims of war, peasants, men in prisons, the destitute, the sick, and abandoned children. More than believing in God, Vincent de Paul knew God, served God, and committed his life to God as present to him in all those most abandoned by society. It was in the poor that he knew God, loved God, and felt the living God. His commitment to the excluded, the ones on the margins, the most abandoned, became one of those essential and perennial memories in his developing a deeper form of humanity.

Therefore, our Vincentian theological-spiritual approach is not of a pious type. Instead, it attempts to make a leap from religious devotion to ethical dedication in favor of social and environmental justice for the defense of vulnerable and threatened life. Vincent de Paul gave religion an ethical horizon. He taught us that the recognition and care for the dignity of the other, especially the ones on the margins of society, is essential to really experience God, to know God, and to serve God.

In this celebration of the feast of Saint Vincent my Vincentian heart feels a yearning for God, a yearning for compassion and solidarity, for equity and inclusion, and for respect, recognition, and care.

Happy feast of Saint Vincent to our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Over this week, let us experience together a yearning for those essential things that bring us joy and inner peace.


Reflection by: Fr. Memo Campuzano, C.M., Vice-President for Mission and Ministry

[1] Cf. Luke 4:16-21.

[2] John E. Rybolt, C.M., Ph.D., “Vincent de Paul and Hospitality,” Vincentian Heritage 33:1 (2016), at: https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.edu/vhj/vol33/iss1/5/.

 

 

Building your resume or building your legacy?

A number of years ago, the political and cultural commentator David Brooks penned a thought-provoking article juxtaposing resume virtues with eulogy virtues.[1] While resume virtues are skills that you bring to the marketplace, eulogy virtues run deeper and define one’s depth of character. Eulogy virtues are the characteristics that we recall at a person’s funeral when we seek to describe the quality of their life.

According to Brooks, although most of us would probably agree that eulogy virtues are the most important, our culture and educational systems tend to put more effort into teaching skills for professional success. As a result, many of us neglect to cultivate the skills necessary to deepen our interior lives. We don’t until life confronts us with situations that require us to wrestle more profoundly with questions of meaning and purpose.

Saint Vincent de Paul’s trajectory seems to mirror the developmental shifts that Brooks lays out. Indeed, much of Vincent’s early experience reveals the ambitions of a young cleric who, motivated by “chances for advancement” and thoughts of “an honorable retirement,”[2] focused on furthering his ecclesial career and “building his resume.” While spiritual and ecclesial formation were certainly an integral part of his theological training, Vincent’s initial priestly motivation stemmed primarily from his desire to escape the financially uncertain life of a peasant farmer. As a result, Vincent, “the eager and ambitious cleric,” sought upward mobility by climbing the ecclesial ladder.[3]

Yet Vincent’s dreams of social advancement did not remain the driving force of his ministry for long. Amid the twists and turns of his vocation, a series of pivotal moments would challenge Vincent’s aspirations and invite him to think beyond himself and consider those in front of him who were living in deprivation. Prompted by such encounters as his visit to a dying peasant in 1617,[4] Vincent began to focus his ministry primarily on the needs and spiritual well-being of those who were poor and abandoned, whose dignity was not often recognized in seventeenth-century French society. He became immensely dissatisfied with the way the world appeared around him.[5] Yet, rather than accept the status quo, he channeled his frustration into a quest to build the world that he wanted to see.[6]

In tangible terms, these spiritual invitations led Vincent to abandon his desire for his own career advancement in favor of seeking a more just and equitable world. Consequently, he spent the rest of his life not merely asking, What must be done?[7] but using his actions as a pathway to live his way to the answer.

As Brooks notes, “some people have experiences that turn their careers into a calling.” While Vincent’s motivation to do good stemmed from his desire to build the Kingdom of God, his trajectory as an ambitious young clergyman might never have changed direction were it not for his ability to listen deeply and respond to what God asked of him. Vincent quite simply longed to serve God faithfully. The cries of those on the margins transformed his heart and motivated him to use “the strength of [his] arms and the sweat of [his brow]”[8]

Reflection Questions:

“We all go into professions for many reasons: money, status, security. But some people have experiences that turn a career into a calling.”[9]

Have there been moments in your career at DePaul when you have experienced your work as a calling? What was it about these moments that transformed your work?

What do you feel called to build in your life right now?

 

Reflection by:           

Siobhan O’Donoghue, Director of Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission and Ministry


[1] David Brooks, “The Moral Bucket List,” New York Times, April 12, 2015, Sunday Opinion, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/opinion/sunday/david-brooks-the-moral-bucket-list.html.

[2] Letter 0003, “Vincent de Paul To His Mother, in Pouy,” 17 February 1610, CCD, 1:15  Available on line at: https://digicol.lib.depaul.edu/digital/collection/depaul01/id/84/rec/1

[3] Douglas Slawson, C.M., “Vincent de Paul’s Discernment of His Own Vocation And That of the Congregation of the Mission,” Vincentian Heritage Journal 10:1 (1989): 6. Available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol10/iss1/1.

[4] Luigi Mezzadri, C.M., and José María Román, C.M., The Vincentians: A General History of the Congregation of the Mission, trans. Robert Cummings (New York: New City Press, 2009), 1:10. Quoted in Scott Kelley, “Vincentian Pragmatism: Toward a Method for Systemic Change,” Vincentian Heritage Journal (2012): 31:2. Available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol31/iss2/2.

[5] Edward Udovic, C.M., Ph.D. “St. Vincent de Paul, A Person of the 17th Century, a Person for the 21st Century,” Office of Mission and Ministry DePaul University, YouTube video, January 16, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrwez_neJT4.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Edward R. Udovic, C.M., Ph.D., “’Our good will and honest efforts.’ Vincentian Perspectives on Poverty Reduction Efforts,” Vincentian Heritage Journal (2008): 28:2, 72. Available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol28/iss2/5.

[8] Conference 25, “Love of God,” n.d., CCD, 11:32. Available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/37/.

[9] Brooks, “Moral Bucket List.”

Committing to a Mission beyond Ourselves

I recently had the good fortune of accompanying leaders from DePaul, St. John’s, and Niagara, the three American Vincentian universities, to France for a Vincentian Heritage tour. The trip was a culmination of their COVID-extended participation in the Vincentian Mission Institute program, and it was the first Heritage tour involving DePaul faculty and staff since 2019.

The trip gave me an opportunity to reflect more intentionally and vividly on Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, Frédéric Ozanam, and others in the Vincentian Family over the past 400+ years and their relationship to our current work at DePaul University. There were many striking insights for me during the experience, often connected to a deepened appreciation for the enduring legacy of Vincent de Paul, the “Lazarists” (Vincentians), and the Daughters of Charity throughout much of France. Certainly, the many churches we visited in Paris and beyond display numerous images, statues, paintings, and plaques that commemorate Vincent and his impact. Yet Vincent’s visible and sustained presence clearly goes beyond church walls. His life and work as a priest had a broader effect on French society, and he even gained the respect of the antireligious revolutionaries of the eighteenth century. He was a public religious figure whose service rippled outward to the peripheries of society where the poor and otherwise forgotten dwelled.

The trip to Vincent’s birthplace in Dax and to the site of his university education in Toulouse invited reflection on his young adult development and early priesthood. We saw the important site of Folleville, on the former lands of the de Gondi family, where Vincent had a transformative experience, where we frequently imagine Madame de Gondi posing the memorable “Vincentian question.” We remembered the foundation of the enduring model of the Confraternities of Charity when visiting Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne. And we walked through the streets of Paris to places that touched on the memory of Frédéric Ozanam and the founding of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. Moreover, it seemed everywhere we went, we found the continued presence and the historical echoes of the Daughters of Charity, including Louise, Catherine Labouré, and Rosalie Rendu.

So, why does all this history still matter so much to us now? Why would we spend extended time in present-day France walking in the footsteps of the founders of the Vincentian tradition?

What ultimately matters in this exploration of our history is that we become inspired to carry on the Vincentian legacy in concrete ways through our lives and work today because, quite simply, our world still desperately needs it. Our Vincentian mission is as compelling now as it was 400 years ago: to sustain and enliven a community of people dedicated to service, charity, justice, and a purpose beyond themselves.

For generations now, Vincent, Louise, Frédéric, and others in the Vincentian Family have asked what it would mean for us to orient our time, our efforts, our intentions, and our vision more radically around the values reflected in the Jesus of the Gospels. Their enduring legacy reflects their response to this question.

Regardless of our religious convictions or the nature of our work, the legacy of Vincent, Louise, and the Vincentian Family invites each of us to ask:

  • How might we orient our lives so that our life and work manifest the generosity, service, and care for others reflected in the living spirit of our Vincentian predecessors?
  • What can we put in place that will outlast us, that will endure for the betterment of the common good?
  • How can we build and inspire the community of people that is DePaul University to be focused on this mission together, and in so doing, to address the larger societal needs of today?

Like those of our predecessors, may our responses to these questions be proclaimed through our actions.


Reflection by: Mark Laboe, Assoc. VP for Mission and Ministry

A Hall of Fame Journey

Recently, while DePaul University celebrated Commencement in style—and in person—for over 4,500 students, some members of our community had their attention focused on a different celebration: the induction of DePaul women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. On June 11 in Knoxville, Tennessee, Coach Bruno received the coveted Eastman Trophy and the Baron Championship Ring, signifying membership in an elite club. Surrounded by family, friends, and Blue Demon fans, he joined the likes of basketball legends Pat Summit, Geno Auriemma, and over 150 other previous inductees in being recognized for his exemplary impact—past, present, and future—on women’s basketball and on the game itself.

This milestone is a reminder that the connection between DePaul’s mission and our Athletics Department is long, deep, and uniquely personified in the journey of Coach Bruno. His relationship with DePaul began as a student athlete under the tutelage of legendary men’s basketball coach Ray Meyer (himself a Hall of Famer). Bruno was first named the head coach of the DePaul women’s basketball program in 1976, and he has led them for the past thirty-four years, twenty-five of which have seen the Blue Demons advancing to the NCAA tournament. Coach Bruno has guided teams to championships and star players to the WNBA. At the same time, he has supported his squads as they have earned the Big East Team Academic Award in nine of the last eleven seasons for having the top team GPA. He has assembled a talented coaching staff who are as dedicated as he is to team success on and off the court. His players are known for their commitment to academics, community service, and hard work. Clearly, Coach Bruno has taken Vincent de Paul’s words to heart: “Doing good isn’t everything; we have to do it well.”[1]

Vincent left us this inspiring quote, and many more, while heeding God’s call to serve the poor and to gather companions to serve with him. Despite the worthiness of this aspiration, Vincent and his followers faced grueling challenges. Toward the end of his life and with wisdom based on experience, Vincent said, “Rarely is any good done without difficulty.”[2] Experience also taught him that with faith, community, and an abundance of perseverance and constancy[3] difficulties would be overcome and his community’s goals would be attained.

Vincent probably wouldn’t have had much of value to share with Coach Bruno about the X’s and O’s of basketball. Yet Vincent’s insight about the need for faith and perseverance when meeting challenges and working toward worthy goals is just as sagacious now as it was almost 400 years ago, especially when viewed through the lens of a Hall of Fame coaching career.

Indeed, Vincent said many things in his era that seem to travel through the ages and resonate with our time. For instance, in bidding farewell to a community member, Vincent assured him that “with God’s help, you will continue to succeed in your leadership and in your duties.”[4] May the same be true for you, Coach Bruno!

Questions for reflection: Who are the “Hall of Famers” that you know at DePaul? Who are the people whose commitment to our community and whose perseverance in the face of challenges have inspired you or changed DePaul for the better? How or what could you learn from them? Is there some way you may let them know the gift they have been for you?


Reflection by: Tom Judge, Assistant Director and Chaplain, Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission and Ministry

[1] Conference 201, “Simplicity and Prudence (Common Rules, Chap. II, Art. 4 and 5),” March 14, 1659, CCD, 12:148. Available at https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/36/.

[2] Letter 1487, “To Philippe Le Vacher and Jean Barreau,” [1652], CCD, 4:361. Available at https://‌via.‌library.‌depaul.edu/‌vincentian_ebooks/29/.

[3] “God allows this to give rise to the practice of two beautiful virtues: perseverance, which leads us to attain the goal, and constancy, which helps us to overcome difficulties.” See Letter 1228, “To Guillaume Cornaire, in Le Mans,” June 15, 1650, CCD, 4:36-37.

[4] Letter 863, “To Jean Martin, in Genoa,” September 27, 1646, CCD, 3:66. Available at https://‌via.‌library.‌‌depaul.edu/‌vincentian_ebooks/28/.

Pausing and Acting

I recall someone coming to me years ago and sharing the laments of their heart. They had spent long, excruciating months dealing with one tragedy after another. They were broken, devastated, and exhausted. And then, in the midst of their pain, I had the audacity to say, “I’ll pray for you … It’s the least I can do.” I heard myself say those words and was shocked! After all of that pain sharing, I wanted to offer my least? And what does it say about caring for others if prayer is the least we can offer?

That was one of the epiphanies I had as a young pastor that changed my entire attitude toward prayer. It is a great gift that moves one toward action.

The work of Saints Vincent and Louise, and Vincentians through the ages, has been grounded in prayer. Consider that, like Vincent, time and again Louise urged her own community to “pray to the divine … for one another that His mercy may pour out on us His blessings of grace and light.”[1]

This tradition of prayer continues at DePaul University today. The Division of Mission and Ministry constantly encourages prayer as well as reflection and meditation. These are all tools that encourage us to dig more deeply into our souls as we seek clarity, grounding, peace, and wholeness, especially in difficult times.

After months of our own difficulties and brokenness caused by a pandemic and life in general, we are reminded by our Vincentian community to pause and find moments of prayer or meditation. Today we are encouraged to offer our best to ourselves and others by entering into contemplative moments with the self or the divine, hopefully finding inspiration to move such holy conversations into a call for action. Perhaps the best we can offer is a moment of quiet and reflection in our own lives followed by a moment of service and caring for others who, like us, are devastated by many long and difficult months. As this year continues, with so many uncertainties unfolding, may we all be inspired to pause for prayer, reflection, or meditation and then move forward in acts of love and kindness toward one another.


Reflection by: Rev. Dr. Diane Dardón, Director, Office of Religious Diversity and Pastoral Care, Division of Mission and Ministry

[1] L. 217, “To My Very Dear Sister Anne Hardemont,” August 29 [1648], Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, 261. Available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/ldm/16/.

 

Interested in more faith-sharing and reflection? During Lent this year, the Division of Mission and Ministry will be facilitating weekly online faith-sharing groups for faculty and staff. Every week, we will provide a Vincentian reflection that focuses on a theme from that week’s Christian liturgical readings. We will then gather in community over Zoom to share, reflect, and discern together where our Lenten paths may be leading us with Vincent as our guide. Learn more and register here.

How Vincent and Louise Challenged State-sanctioned Bias

Today, both in public and private forums, bias is an unfortunate reality with which most of us are all too familiar. It may be the biases of others, who seem so easily to marginalize and discriminate, or our own prejudices that lead us to make easy judgments. Whether conscious or not, bias has often plagued humankind.

This was no different in seventeenth-century France. In fact, the era of Saint Vincent and Saint Louise was cruelly stained by explicit, state-sanctioned bias against those who were socio-economically poor. This was epitomized by the “War of the Great Confinement” which began in 1656 with a royal prohibition against all manner of public begging by the destitute poor.1 All forms of private almsgiving were also outlawed. Indeed, over the course of several years, more than five thousand poverty-stricken people were deprived of their freedom and forcibly contained in a series of institutions known as the General Hospital of Paris. Such actions were an explicit manifestation of sociocultural bias, enshrined in state policy and enforced by police and the judiciary.

Amidst such persecutory and punitive acts towards the poor, Vincent and Louise committed themselves to those whom French society had most abandoned and disenfranchised. Their ministry stood as humble testimony that another world was possible, a world in which the poor were honored and respected, not criminalized. In coming to know and love those whom society had shunned, Vincent and Louise were invited to stand in solidarity with those on the farthest margins. Their praxis testified to the inherent God-given dignity of all, but most especially to those who were poor. In seventeenth-century France, for some, this was a radical belief.

We may sometimes think that the lives of those who have gone before us are encased in history, with little to say about our current reality. However, I choose to believe this is not so. If you are reading this, may I invite you to pause for a moment and consider the following?

Are there still strong societal biases today that marginalize or alienate some individuals or groups of people? How might your values and beliefs compel you to act to expose and work against these biases in order to affirm the dignity of all? Are there ways in which, like Vincent and Louise before, you are being called today to make real with your hands what your heart longs to see?


1 See Edward R. Udovic, C.M., “‘Caritas Christi Urget Nos:’ The Urgent Challenges of Charity in Seventeenth Century France,” Vincentian Heritage 12:2 (1991), 86, at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/‌vhj/‌‌‌‌vol12/‌iss2/1/

Reflection by: Siobhan O’Donoghue, Director, Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission and Ministry

Having Faith in Light of Life’s Mysteries

Our world is full of mysteries. Some can be explained by science or reasoned through logic, but some remain ineffable. For Vincent de Paul, a Catholic priest, God was one of those mysteries that remained beyond our grasp. From his Christian perspective, he once noted, “the more directly we look at the sun, the less we see it; likewise, the more we try to reason about the truths of our religion, the less we know by faith.”1 For Vincent, having faith without an answer for God’s mysteries was an important part of his religious beliefs.

In our twenty-first-century United States, the mysteries of the world are drastically different from those of Vincent’s seventeenth-century France. Advances in science, medicine, and technology have helped “explain away” many of the mysteries from 400 years ago. And yet, as much as we know today, there are still many mysteries we do not understand, and still others that emerge every day.

In the end, we are left with the truth that there are aspects of our lives which require us to have faith: faith in our community, faith in a higher power, faith in an unknown, or faith in something larger than ourselves that cannot be fully grasped.

Think of something that remains a mystery in your life. How do you rely on faith to understand or live with this mystery?


1 Conference 23, Maxims of Saint Vincent, CCD, 12:386.

Reflection by: Michael Van Dorpe, Program Manager for Faculty and Staff Engagement, Division of Mission and Ministry

 

Take a leap of faith. Apply to be a Mission Ambassador. Click here for more information: Mission Ambassadors Program

Seeds of the Mission: Rick Moreci

Vincentian Organization & Pragmatism 

When serving as a priest in Châtillon, France, Vincent learned a valuable lesson about pragmatism and organization. One day, he heard news of a family who was ill and needed assistance. He asked his congregation to bring soup and supplies to their home. So many people responded to Vincent’s call that the family received more food than they could eat, and much of it spoiled. This event helped Vincent realize that in order to be effective, charity must be organized and structured. It’s important to channel people’s good will in meaningful ways 

Throughout their lives, Vincent and Louise set a precedent for the Vincentian family to balance personalism with pragmatism. They knew there was value both in learning a person’s name and in working strategically to ensure that they were able to execute their work well. They also were attentive to managing resources to get them to those most in need.  

At DePaul, we strive to uphold that same balance, to hear the needs of individual students and provide an organized, deliberate response. The Student Food Pantry is one example of DePaul’s personalism and pragmatism. Rick and his team worked collaboratively to respond in an organized, sustainable way to students experiencing food insecurity. They thoughtfully considered how to create an accessible resource that honors the dignity of those using it. It has become a trusted source of support for students. Bringing in other university partners to make this effort sustainable is a great example of the power of Vincentian collaboration. Efforts such as these bring modern understanding to Vincent’s words, “It is not enough to do good. It must be done well.” 

For anyone who wishes to donate non-perishable food or household items to the pantry, you may do so by bringing your donation directly to the Student Center during any of the open building hours. Entry to the building is on the corner of Kenmore and Belden. If you would like to make a financial contribution to the pantry to help keep the shelves stocked you may visit, https://give.depaul.edu/foodpantry. 

The Streets as a Cloister: History of the Daughters of Charity

The Vincentian Studies Institute is extremely pleased to promote the publication of our colleague and fellow board member’s new work. Dr. Brejon de Lavergnée is a Professor of History and ​the Dennis H. Holtschneider Chair of Vincentian Studies at DePaul University.

“The Daughters of Charity are today the largest community of Catholic women, with 15,000 sisters in about 100 countries. They devote their lives to serving the poorest in hospitals, schools, and care centers for homeless or migrants, as well as working to promote social justice. Until now, however, the history of the Daughters of Charity has been almost wholly neglected. The opening of their central archives, combined with access to many public and private archives, has finally allowed this to be remedied.

This volume, the fruit of several years’ work, covers the history of the Company from its foundation by Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac as a confraternity of young women to the suppression of the order during the French Revolution. The study, at the juncture of women’s history and religious history, shows how much the Daughters of Charity contributed to the emergence of a new and ambiguous status in post-Tridentine society: neither cloistered nuns nor married women, but “seculars.” The Company has certainly offered a framework that enabled many resolute women to lead lives out of the ordinary, taking young peasant women to the royal court, intrepid hearts to Poland, and, more generally, generous souls to the “martyrdom of charity” among the poor and the ill.”

ISBN Number: 978-1-56548-027-8. 668 pages. Available at Amazon.com or directly from the publisher: The Streets as a Cloister

To read an interview with Dr. Brejon de Lavergnée about his new book and the Daughters of Charity, please see Crux: Taking the Catholic Pulse