Like freshmen heading to campus for the first time, the university community is experiencing some uneasiness about assuming its growing responsibility to nurture the Vincentian tradition as the number of priests and brothers on campus and in leadership roles declines.
As DePaul pondered its future direction during the strategic planning process, faculty, staff and students sensed that the transition is taking place even while the Vincentians are still here. Their remarks said it all:
“I’ve heard comments among faculty that our Catholic, Vincentian, and urban character should be protected, stable and secure.”
“As a student, the mission was a big draw. A huge fear of mine is that something I love could fade away.”
“The Vincentians are declining. We have our first lay president. How does the Vincentian character remain a compass, an anchor and a guide for the institution? This needs to be a touchstone for our values, diversity and student profile.”
DePaul is not alone in this context. Currently, 60 percent of presidents at U.S.-based member schools of the Association for Catholic Colleges and Universities are lay women and men.
Although carrying on the Vincentian tradition without priests, sisters and brothers may feel like new territory, the Rev. Edward Udovic, C.M., vice president for University Mission and Ministry, confirms that the university is well prepared.
The official Latin title of the Vincentians is the “Congregatio Missionis,” according to Fr. Udovic, and it translates to, “A gathering of people for the sake of the mission.”
“From this perspective, every faculty, staff and Board of Trustees member is a Vincentian in the truest sense of the word, because we are all – Catholic and non-Catholic alike – called together for the sake of our mission and for the sake of our students,” he says. “Our faculty and staff satisfaction surveys, our student surveys, all consistently show overwhelming support …