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A history of Vincentian Service Day

vincentian Service Day 2017
Vincentian Service Day volunteers plant a tree at the Gingko Organic Gardens in 2017. This year's Vincentian Service Day is scheduled for May 4. (DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief)
“Go - then” is a philosophy defined by noted Vincentian priest and author, Robert P. Maloney, C.M. Maloney suggests that at the heart of the Vincentian tradition is action. You must first go, step out from apathy or fear and act, and then reflect and learn from the experience. Go serve generously and then learn from others where further action may be needed and effective. Such an approach helps explain how the tradition of Vincentian Service Day came to be. 

As a part of the DePaul’s centennial celebration in the late 1990s, a university team coordinated a year’s worth of events and initiatives. Behind all of the planning was John P. Minogue, then-president of DePaul, who recently passed away. He felt there was a need for a large-scale action to express DePaul’s mission of public service. In May of 1999, more than 1,500 students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends gathered for Centennial Service Day. 

Throughout the year, the Centennial celebration team worked with established community partners and built new relationships with various community organizations to solidify meaningful projects for the day of service. Together, the DePaul community served 88 different community partners – mostly schools and other social service organizations in Chicago. A visible expression of the Vincentian mission, the event brought about a new sense of identity, allowing for a concrete representation of what it means to be both Vincentian and a member of the DePaul community. Through Centennial Service Day, the university established connections that led to ongoing collaboration, continued service and community-based projects. 

Building on the success of Centennial Service Day and further tapping into the “go - then” philosophy, Minogue wanted to replicate the event, ultimately creating an annual university-wide tradition rooted in the Vincentian mission. In more than two decades, Vincentian Service Day has become one of DePaul’s most important traditions. In the mid-2000s the event surpassed the attendance of the original Centennial Service Day.

Since its inception, Vincentian Service Day has evolved into a popular event for students and student organizations on campus. Faculty and staff also participate with student teams or with colleagues, making it an event for the entire university community. 

In honor of DePaul’s former president and the lasting legacy he has had on DePaul, the Division of Mission and Ministry encourages everyone to participate in this tradition rooted in the Vincentian Mission. This year’s Vincentian Service Day is set for Saturday, May 4. Group registration is also available, but service sites and space are limited. Register now on the Mission and Ministry website​.