I am not Catholic. I have never been Catholic. Therefore, on occasion, I get asked about why I go to a Catholic University (in fact, the largest Catholic University in the nation). Well, I go to DePaul because our Catholic background is not about keeping anyone out, but is about including all.
I go to a school that is founded in St. Vincent DePaul’s name. Vinny, as I like to call him, was a man that changed much in his lifetime. He started his life going into the church for all the wrong reasons, but by the end was a changed man with a value system not measured in gold but in good works. Being a Vincentian is about having a social conscious. It is important to be aware of the social issues in your community, whether that community is your city, your country or your world. But to truly live up to Vincent’s legacy, it is important to move beyond awareness to works. Vinny believed true difference could only happen by those willing to go into the world to create change, to better your community and yourself. To truly emulate Vincent DePaul goes beyond good works; it also requires personal development.
When many people come to DePaul, or any university, it is often the first real time they are on their own. You finally get to shed family pressures and become your own person. Going to a Vincentian school teaches you to look beyond yourself. Hopefully, in coming to DePaul you will grow, much like Vincent DePaul in his lifetime, to find value in more than earthly treasures and become a person who is socially aware and a person who wants to truly make a difference.
Now, I personally have strong opinions on many social issues. Since coming to DePaul, I find I stand up for these commitments time and again. I find myself living out the change I want to see more and more. I have done more community service, gone to more protests, lived my life truer to my values and found myself becoming more of a well-rounded person than ever before. Would this have happened at any school? Possibly. However, because DePaul has such a strong foundation in Vincentianism, it’s hard to imagine myself living with such conviction without my buddy Vinny.
Let’s all try to live up to the people we want to be. Let’s all grow and change for the better. Vinny would want it that way.