“The Beggar,” an icon created by Meltem Aktas, depicts St. Vincent de Paul with generous eyes, an outstretched hand and a loaf of bread. The drawing illustrates one of his core values - human dignity. This icon is one of the topics of discussion and reflection at each Living the Mission event.
“Living the Mission is an opportunity to further explore a sense of history, the meaning of Vincentian values in each person's life and the role these values play in the workplace at DePaul,” says Siobhan O’Donoghue, the director of Faculty and Staff Engagement in the Division of Mission and Ministry.
This new program is different from the brief introduction to the university’s mission staff receive during orientation. Within their first six months at DePaul, each new employee can participate in a comprehensive examination of Vincent’s mission and values.
“We start to talk about the values we hope they see while working at DePaul,” O’Donoghue says.
To begin, a French-themed breakfast is served to attendees. From crepes and croissants to a variety of cheeses, participants are transported to the scene where it all began with Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac, who collaborated to build the foundation for the Vincentian mission and legacy that would follow.
After breakfast, the program coordinators jump into presentations wherein discussion, questions and reflections are encouraged. A panel of veteran employees who have found creative ways to interlace the Vincentian mission into their work also share their experiences and wisdom.
Maureen McGonagle, the director of Campus Recreation, has worked at DePaul for 21 years and recently participated on the panel. Since the program began, McGonagle has sent three new Campus Recreation staff members to attend.
“It helps to make a vocal and demonstrable effort to match your words and your actions,” McGonagle says. “We try to prioritize matching the values and virtues. It’s not just what we believe - we actually do it as well.”
Some of the questions Living the Mission aims to addresses are: What did Saint Vincent do? Why do we remember him? Moreover, what does it mean to say we are Vincentian? And, what does our mission have to do with our everyday life and work at DePaul? One of the stories often told is of Saint Vincent and the white tablecloth. Vincent instructed the Daughters of Charity before serving food to the hungry, first one must put down a white linen napkin.
“His way of understanding how you serve was really honoring the dignity of the other… That’s a Vincentian value,” O’Donoghue says.
Dignity for all is just one of many values Living the Mission helps staff to identify with and integrate into their work. Living the Mission emphasizes the importance of each person’s role at the university and how Vincentian values matter to our community.
“It’s not necessarily what work you’re doing that distinguishes you from another university, it’s how you do it,” McGonagle says.
If you joined DePaul as a new employee within the last year and are interested in attending a Living the Mission program, or if you are interested in learning more about this and other mission-based programs for faculty and staff, please contact Siobhan O’Donoghue.