Celebrating the Spirit of St. Louise at DWN’s 12th Annual High Tea

 By Nadia Alfadel Coloma

On March 28, DePaul women faculty and staff gathered for fellowship, networking and service at DWN’s 12th annual High Tea with St. Louise. This yearly celebration marks two occasions: Women’s History Month and St. Louise’s feast day, both of which occur in March.

So who was St. Louise anyway? Why does DWN hold this event each year to commemorate her?

One terrific metaphor I heard once from someone explaining the significance of St. Louise, in her relation to St. Vincent, is that if St. Vincent were the president of our university, then St. Louise would be the provost.

St Louise de MarillacFrom 17th century France, St. Louise was St. Vincent’s most trusted and key collaborator. She dedicated her life to the service of others, serving the poor alongside St. Vincent and educating women to help those most in need. St. Louise was also a wife (then widow), a mother (to a son with special needs), a nurse, social worker, teacher and community organizer. She founded the Daughter’s of Charity, a community of religious women that still exists today.

St. Louise’s spirit of service and action inspires us to take our beliefs,  ideas, passions, dreams, our vision for a better world—and put them into action. And it is because of her inspiring legacy that DWN honors her each year, not with one event, but with two: the other being our annual Women of Spirit and Action Awards.

17458234_10212052718136305_3478190085345872810_nBut this year’s High Tea with St. Louise was different. In addition to providing a space and opportunity to enjoy afternoon tea and treats with fellow DPU women, our 2017 High Tea included a service activity.

All this talk about St. Louise inspiring us to action, well, what better way to honor her than to put our inspiration to action and do service in her name?

The event kicked off with keynote speaker Barbara Sims, a DePaul SNL graduate student who talked about her experiences facing poverty, her struggles as a first-generation college student and single mother, and her climb to a six-figure corporate job that, while it filled her pockets, didn’t satisfy her soul.

“Knowledge is power,” she shared, reading a quote from Kofi Annan that inspired her. “Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress in every society and every family.”

Barbara ended up leaving her six-figure job to pursue her passion for singing. In fact, she sang a song just before beginning her address, mesmerizing everyone with the delightful surprise of her voice that echoed through the lofty ceilings of Cortelyou Commons. (Not every keynote speaker spontaneously breaks into song…) You can watch the 40-second clip of her singing here.

Barbara spent a few years traveling around the country singing, but she still felt a restlessness in her soul. She had a calling toward education, and so decided to go back to school, enrolling at DePaul to pursue a PhD that focuses on culturally relevant education in the neo liberal era.

“I wanted to be in some service,” she said. “Our African American students are either underemployed or unemployed. They’re not walking away from school prepared or inspired.”

sarahscircleAfter Barbara’s keynote, the local nonprofit that we would be serving that day was introduced. Sarah’s Circle, located in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, serves women who are homeless or in need of a safe space. Last year the organization served roughly 793 women in the community.

But there was one more special guest before the service portion of the event: the Depaul (yes, lowercase p) USA’s Dax Program, which helps our students facing homelessness by matching them with host families and giving them resources and support so they can complete their education at DePaul.

20170328_161128“There are at least 50 students at DePaul who are homeless, or housing insecure, as we prefer to say, during any given quarter,” shared Sister Judy Warmbold, the Dax program coordinator. “The problem is… we don’t know who these students are. The best thing you can do to help is know that this program exists, help spread the word and help identify students who you suspect might need this program.”

“There are at least 50 students at DePaul who are homeless during any given quarter. The problem is… we don’t know who they are.” – Sister Judy Warmbold, Dax program coordinator

I had heard about the Dax Program a couple of years ago, but admittedly, it had slipped from my mind since then—which made me feel awful, considering that one of the main points Sister Judy stressed to everyone was to simply be aware. Be aware of the program and be aware of the students you work with or teach on campus, as students facing homelessness are often too ashamed to come forward. You can read more about Dax in Newsline.

After a brief Q&A between the attendees and guest speakers, the energized frenzy of the service activity finally began.

At each round table, DPU women assembled sandwiches and packed them into bagged lunches for the women who benefit from Sarah’s Circle. Each table had loaves of bread, slices of deli meat and cheese, clementines and bags of chips. Also dispersed around the tables were index cards on which we could write a personal message to the woman who would receive the bagged lunch.

It was wonderful to be in the company of so many DePaul women who gave the gift of their presence that day to help women that they would never meet. Hands were reaching across tables, people were calling out “Is there more cheese?” and “Does anyone have an extra bag?” The connection and solidarity I felt with those around me was such a rejuvenating way to end my work day.

By the end, the 50 women who participated made 100 sandwiches for 100 bagged lunches. The representatives from Sarah’s Circle expressed their gratitude and amazement at how fast and efficiently we put the lunches together. Many looked up from the tables as if thinking, “Aren’t there anymore sandwiches to make?”

The spirit of St. Louise truly shone through the windows of Cortelyou Commons that afternoon.

I’m so glad that the DePaul Women’s Network offers these opportunities to come together, learn and give back to the larger community. It makes me proud to be a part of the Network. I hope we made St. Louise proud with this event that bears her name. I have a feeling we did.

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Visit our Facebook page to view more photos from the event!

Nadia Alfadel Coloma is the director of marketing and communications for the DePaul Women’s Network, and a communications and workforce specialist in Enrollment Management and Marketing at DePaul University.

The Vagina Monologues Should be an Ongoing Conversation

By Jennifer Long

vmOur society is not yet inclusive or representative of all people’s voices. Women, for example, have a number of experiences related to violence and oppression that still need to be heard and championed.

DePaul’s 18th Annual Vagina Monologues was a reminder of that fact. A reminder, because decades after Eve Ensler wrote and performed the original play at the Off-Broadway Westside Theatre, her words are still recited and are still able to disarm and empower an audience.

I had the pleasure of attending this play on the Lincoln Park campus in early February. It helped me grow in my understanding of DePaul women.

A collaborative effort between The Women’s Center, the Theatre School and the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, this performance activism entitled “Vagina Monologues” raises awareness of the breadth of women’s experiences through Eve Ensler’s writing and personal monologues written by DePaul students.

It’s performed every year at DePaul around Valentine’s Day weekend, and proceeds from ticket sales support three on-campus organizations: Rape Victim Advocates, A Long Walk Home and Take Back the Halls. In fact, performances all over the country under this name have raised over $100 million dollars in support of women’s and domestic organizations since its inception.

I should have known that this combination of expression, intention and vulnerability would be reviving.

Throughout the play, audience members were encouraged to clap, holler or snap whenever a monologue resonated. I imagine many, like me, lost count of how many times they participated. It was remarkable to be in the presence of brave women who shared their stories and brought the experiences of others to life by reciting monologues. I felt empowered and connected to a community of DePaul women, women everywhere and their allies.

The personal monologues from DePaul students were particularly startling. They opened my eyes to the broad range of our female students’ experiences—experiences I wasn’t aware of at my own alma mater as an undergraduate.

One particular monologue revolved around conversations that had floated around campus last year. These “#triggered” conversations were in response to racial tension and insensitivity toward those suffering on campus due to their race, sexual identity or experience with sexual violence. This monologue was a reminder that we could all do better at thinking about the impact that our words and actions can have not only in the DePaul community, but in all communities.

And then there was a monologue that clearly articulated consent—how it is defined and supported at DePaul, and how DePaul continues the conversation on consent on many college campuses today.

Interestingly, after some contextual research on the subject, I learned there have been conflicting perspectives regarding these performances. Mostly, that the language used and voices represented were too narrow by focusing heavily on a white, middle-class female experience. Arguably, the platform has grown to include the voices of women with diverse backgrounds and varying identities, including transwomen.

One transwoman DePaul student, who had recently passed away, was unable to share her story that weekend. But a draft of her monologue was posted near the exit. By acknowledging her voice in this way, it was clear how DePaul values expanding the platform to include more voices and experiences—in a way that the original performance may not have done decades prior. Surely though, it could still grow to be even more inclusive.

I highly recommend attending this play the next time it is available on campus or in your community. Whether it is “The Vagina Monologues” or any other performance activism for a marginalized or oppressed community, all who attend will leave with a broader perspective of society.

If more people’s voices and experiences are heard, society might become more inclusive and understanding.

While the people in the audience may have had different identities or definitions of feminism, may not have had vaginas, may not have experienced sexual violence and oppression, they can still become allies for the community and help continue the conversation that works to eliminate violence and oppression of women.

How will you help continue the conversation?

Jennifer Long is a DWN member at large and an assistant director of development for DePaul’s Richard H. Driehaus College of Business.

Millennial Women: A Force to be Reckoned with

By Laura Durnell

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In 1997 she entered the world.

In 2009 she began writing an anonymous blog advocating education as a right for all children.

In 2011 her home country awarded her with its First National Peace Prize.

In 2012 when she was 15, she was shot on her bus ride home from school simply because of her beliefs.

In 2013 she co-founded a foundation to increase awareness for the importance of girls’ education.

In 2014 at the age of 17, she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 2015 she called herself a feminist as well as an education activist.

Her name is Malala Yousafzai, and she is a millennial.

In May of 2013, Time magazine devoted its cover story to the millennial generation entitled The Me, Me, Me Generation.  It listed some attributes that I am sure you have heard and read about:  spoiled, disrespectful, entitled, impatient, shallow, lazy, aliterate, narcissistic, sheltered, arrogant.

I have taught first year writing far longer than I would like to admit.  During this time, I have educated students ranging from the Greatest Generation to those still in high school working toward advanced college credit.  While I do admit I have taught my share of stereotypical millennials, I am please to say that stereotype has not been the norm.  I also know the stereotype is not unique to them. In Ancient Greece, Socrates said, “The children now love luxury.  They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in the place of exercise.”

Every generation has faced some sort of criticism, and people have declared that the current generation coming of age will be the end of civilization.  However, that negates the accomplishments and power each generation achieves.  With this being women’s history month, I want to address two famous millennial women as well as those under the radar who take leadership roles and challenge the status quo.

In addition to the now eighteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai, twenty-five-year-old actress Emma Watson has emerged as a gender activist.  In 2014 she became the United Nations Women Global Goodwill Ambassador and heads the HeForShe Campaign.  With her hair pulled back and wearing an elegant white dress secured with a silver belt, the HeForShe Campaign button secured to her left lapel, Watson looked more confident and determined than admittedly nervous when she delivered her amazing 2014 speech to the UN.  That speech was broadcasted by CNN and later went viral.  I have even shown it in my WRD 104 class as an example of rhetoric, language, audience, cited evidence, and argumentation.

Since her speech, Watson continues to advocate gender equality for men and women.  Better yet, she extends a hand to men to work as allies in breaking gender expectations.  In person and online, she works to raise awareness and opportunities for equal pay, women’s education, women’s health, and women’s political participation and contribution.  In February, she told Paper magazine, where she was featured alongside feminist and writing legend bell hooks, she planned to take a year off from acting to concentrate on feminism, activism, and personal development.

Watson is also the person who led Yousafzai to call herself a feminist.  Before the premiere of her documentary He Named Me Malala, Watson interviewed Yousafzai who told her:

It has been a tricky word. When I heard it the first time, I heard some negative responses and some positive ones. I hesitated in saying am I feminist or not?

Then after hearing your speech I decided there’s no way and there’s nothing wrong by calling yourself a feminist. So I’m a feminist, and we all should be a feminist because feminism is another word for equality.

Out of the spotlight, I see the same drive and confidence in the writing and research done by several of my female millennial students.  This quarter alone, several are writing their argumentative-research essays on contemporary topics relevant to women.  One student argues how even in 2016, “toxic masculinity” continues to prevent women from advancing in basic human rights while stripping their existing rights.  Another student argues how school dress codes unfairly focus on female students and even “slut shames” them, which in the end advances the rape culture.  And another student argues that the Texas law “protecting” women’s health, which the United States Supreme Court just finished hearing arguments for and against, in reality damages women’s health by limiting and ultimately shutting off access to abortion providers and services.

Last year one of my Muslim students in my Erica Jong focal point seminar focused her final essay on Islamic feminism and argued that Islamic feminism provides women more rights and dignity than Western white feminism.  And several years before my Erica Jong Focal Point liberal arts seminar, one of my female African American students argued that black women served as the true power behind the abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-twentieth century.

As the General Election arrives this November, the one demographic that should not be dismissed are millennials—especially millennial women.  They are the fourth wave of feminism.  Even though I am a cynical and snarky Gen Xer from the third wave, millennial women make me hopeful for the future of not only women but the world.

Laura Durnell is a member of DWN’s Marketing and Communication team and a part-time faculty member in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse at DePaul University. Along with first year writing, she also teaches a focal point on Anne Sexton and will teach another one in the spring entitled “Women’s Confessions.” She tutors at Wilbur Wright College in addition to her teaching at DePaul and has recently published an essay in Trivia: Voices of Feminism entitled “The Social, Cultural, and Political Necessity of Anne Sexton.”

An Afternoon Treat: High Tea with St. Louise

By Laura Durnell

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Part social catch-up and networking opportunity, part recognition of service, part membership recruitment, and part relaxation, the 2016 High Tea with St. Louise managed to achieve a multitude of goals much like Saint Louise de Marillac did during her remarkable life.

The afternoon began at Cortelyou Commons with what could be argued was the most important part of this DWN event:  coffee, tea, water, and tasty delectables.  With daylight savings time having occurred the Sunday before, there was still enough light outside to stream through the windows during the mid-to-late afternoon high tea event and provide an added energy jolt along with the provided caffeine and chocolate.

A few minutes after my arrival, I ran into one of my friends from the English department who works as one of the directors of its graduate program.  We met at one of the rear tables to catch up where we introduced ourselves to two other women in attendance, one of which was the Invocation speaker Lubna El-Gendi, the associate director of the College of Law.

Once seated, I looked at my slip of paper the greeters provided everyone upon entering.  The paper instructed us to locate the tea’s “mystery guest” while we interacted with friends and made new ones.

A few minutes after my friend’s arrival, another one of my friends who works with me in the WRD department arrived.  Both my friends are not involved with DWN as members or members at large, but both mentioned they were thinking about possibly applying for next year.

The event opened with Shenay Bridges, DWN’s 2015-2016 Director of Membership & Engagement and DePaul’s Assistant Dean of Community Resources, welcoming everyone to this year’s high tea.  She then learned who discovered the “mystery guest.”  A woman at the table to my immediate right discovered the mystery guest.  It was Jennifer Mata, a tenure-track member of the faculty in the College of Education, who was also sitting at the same table.

The next speaker was El-Gendi.  Being a Muslim woman, she explained the standard greeting Muslims use to greet one another before she led the diverse community with an Invocation that appealed to women of all spiritual backgrounds.

Bridges then introduced keynote speaker Jennah Dunham, Coordinator for Scholarships and Vincentian Mission Logistics in the Office of Mission and Values.  In her keynote, Dunham talked about her love of Saint Louise, DePaul University, and the university’s Vincentian mission.

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Perhaps the most stirring and profound part of her keynote speech was when she discussed how Saint Louise inspires and motivates her professionally as well as personally.  She revealed she is leaving DePaul at the end of the year so her partner can partake in a new opportunity in another state.  While sharing how Vincentian values and spirituality have guided her work with students and DePaul, she revealed she also applies Saint Louise’s lessons, spirituality, and words to her own life and was finding them poignant as she embarks on this next chapter of her life.  Twice during her keynote address, she paused to give the attendees time to discuss their own lives in how they deal with challenging and new situations as well as reflecting on Saint Louise herself.

One of my friends who attended is Jewish.  Without hesitation, she said she did not know anything about Saint Louise.  However, my other friend attended Catholic school as a child gave us all a lesson on Saint Louise from what she learned as a child and when she travelled to France with DePaul to learn more about Saint Vincent de Paul and his mission and life.  As a Catholic myself, I did not know about Saint Louise until I was accepted as a member two years ago, and my friend gave everyone at our table a lesson. Though Saint Louise was illegitimate and lived  hundreds of years ago, Saint Vincent de Paul treated her as an equal more than a subservient female and an “other.”

The tea ended with some current members talking about their experience serving DWN before Jennifer Roop, DWN’s 2015-2016 Executive Vice President and incoming 2016-2017 President, talked about DWN’s membership recruitment process. The tea ended with DWN’s new membership video put together by the Membership & Engagement team.

As we left, my friends and I remarked we couldn’t believe how fast the time went.  One of them said she was even more intrigued into learning more about DWN and applying.

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DWN is currently accepting applications for 2016-2017 membership. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2016.

Laura Durnell is a member of DWN’s Marketing and Communication team and a part-time faculty member in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse at DePaul University. Along with first year writing, she also teaches a focal point on Anne Sexton and will teach another one in the spring entitled “Women’s Confessions.” She tutors at Wilbur Wright College in addition to her teaching at DePaul and has recently published an essay in Trivia: Voices of Feminism entitled “The Social, Cultural, and Political Necessity of Anne Sexton.”

 

Where and When I Enter: Intersectionality, African-American Women and Higher Education

As Part of DePaul Women’s Network Women of Culture Series, DWN, in conjunction with the Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity, and the School for New Learning, had the honor to recently present: “Where and When I Enter: Intersectionality, African-American Women and Higher Education”, featuring Dr. Venus Evans-Winters, Associate Professor of Education at Illinois State University. Read on for DWN Communications Team Member Dorothy Griggs’ recap of the event. 

By Dorothy Griggs

Dorothy Griggs
DWN Communications Team Member Dorothy Griggs

Dr. Evans-Winters is an Associate Professor of Education at Illinois State University in the department of Educational Administration and Foundations, and is a Faculty Affiliate with Women & Gender Studies and Ethnic Studies.  Dr. Evans-Winters’ research and teaching interests are the sociology of education, educational policy, critical race theory and feminism.  Dr. Evans-Winters is also a therapist and the author of the book, Teaching Black Girls – Resiliency in Urban Classrooms.

An energetic speaker with an infectious laugh and the uncanny ability to make her audience feel more like kinfolk than strangers, Dr. Venus Evans-Winters began her talk by showing a YouTube video of Nina Simone on stage singing, “Four Women,” where she sang about four of the many varied and distinct histories of African-American women.  While the song itself is over forty years old, it speaks to the intersectionality of racism, sexism and classism that still exists today.

Dr. Evans-Winters spoke about some of the issues faced by African-American women in higher education.  Most are well known and well-documented:

  • Fewer African-Americans receive tenure
  • Inequity in pay
  • Only allowed to teach race and gender specific classes
  • The number of diverse faculty members not keeping pace with the increased diversity of the student body

She went on to speak on issues that are not as obvious – mini abrasions, she called them:

  • Walking into a room of your peers and it being assumed that you are the support staff
  • Ideas and opinions devalued
  • Personal choices of how to wear one’s hair negatively impacting evaluations, which in turn, negatively impacts opportunities for tenure
  • When speaking up, the risk of  being labeled an “angry Black woman”

When looking to quickly gauge a company’s values and culture, many African-Americans know that it is often as simple as looking around for someone who looks like them.  Do they span the ranks of the organization from the top down, or are they all clustered near the bottom?  The color and gender of the top hierarchy of any organization speaks louder than its motto or mission statement.

Dr. Evans-Winters stated that no one should be the only “one.”  If a company recruits an African-American executive, there should be other African-American executives for her to be able to elicit support, from the perspective of being one of the few.  The same thinking applies to students.

Dr. Evans-Winters spoke on how the Eurocentric, privileged and elitist culture of higher education is vastly different from the cultural many African-Americans have grown up in.  And while most Blacks are well versed in the culture of White Americans, the larger population knows very little about the psyche of African-Americans, due in part to the fact that the little research that is conducted deals primarily with the pathologies and deficiencies of that population.  Dr. Evans-Winters believes that to better understand African-Americans, research would be better served by focusing on the resiliency and strength of character that allowed African-Americans to rise from the depths of slavery.

Many African-Americans in higher education feel that they must split their identities and conform to the ideologies and culture of the dominant race in order to be successful.  But wherever people of color go, they bring their history, their culture, and their unique perspective of the world.

A one time practicing therapist, Dr. Evans-Winters talked of how there was never any psychological therapy given to Blacks when slavery ended.  None was offered following the mass lynching of black men or, in more recent history, following the abolition of Jim Crow.  Black women have learned to lean on one other to overcome these and numerous other hardships and atrocities, the effects of which outsiders cannot begin to comprehend.

To that end, Dr. Evans-Winters advocates that Black women should have a ‘Room of One’s Own,’ where they can create a safe place to share their stories, a place of community to nurture and heal, time to network with one another, and a loving environment with de-colonized images of beauty.

Additionally, women of color need allies from higher-ups, equal pay, students educated in a pluralistic democracy, professional development, and cultural diversity in the work place, with the goal being the humanization of the individual.

Dorothy Griggs is a member of DWN’s Communications team and is the department assistant for the Center for Students with Disabilities at DePaul University.

National Catholic Sisters Week Highlights Women’s Leadership

For Women’s History Month this March, DWN invited a variety guest authors to share their insights. Read on to see why #DePaulWomenRock!

Patricia Bombard, BVM
Patricia Bombard, BVM

By Patricia Bombard, BVM

March is my favorite month of the year. There are so many life-giving things to celebrate during March, including Women’s History Month. This year there is an added event: National Catholic Sisters Week, which will debut March 8-14. Last August, St. Catherine University in Minnesota received a $3.3 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation “to launch an initiative to heighten public awareness of the lives and contributions of Catholic sisters.”

According to organizers at St. Catherine’s, the new initiative will center on the contributions of Catholic sisters in five areas:

  1. Education
  2. Health care
  3. Social change
  4. The Church and spiritual life
  5. Women’s leadership

Here at DePaul, it is the leadership story of Louise de Marillac, co-founder with St. Vincent de Paul of the Daughters of Charity, which especially inspires us. Though she was born out of wedlock, and never knew her mother, Louise had a loving relationship with her father, Louis de Marillac, who saw to her education and care. Later, as a young widow and single parent, Louise met Vincent, who became her spiritual advisor.

Strongly motivated by her faith, and encouraged by Vincent, Louise eventually gathered a small community of women dedicated to serving the poor by visiting them in their own homes. Perhaps inspired by her own vulnerable background, Louise later led the women in expanding their charitable works to the care of abandoned children. They began by removing 12 children from a government-run facility into their own home. Within five years, the women were caring for as many as 1,200 infants.

Still not finished, the women eventually conducted soup kitchens at three sites in Paris, serving as many as 7,000 meals a day. They also worked to improve the living conditions for prisoners and opened schools to teach occupational skills to poor girls. They also established homes for the elderly, who earned a little money for personal goods through the sale of craft items.

Louise directed all of these activities through a collaborative leadership style that integrated contemplation and action and made extensive use of what we might call today “social networking.”

Louise once wrote to her sisters in community regarding the importance of integrating one’s inner sense of virtue with one’s outer life of serving others: “Oh, my dear Sisters, it is not enough to be Daughters of Charity in name, and it is not enough to be in the service of the poor sick, you must possess the true and solid virtues which you know are essential if you are to accomplish well the work in which you are so happy to be employed. Otherwise, Sisters, your work would be practically useless.”

Sr. Margaret John Kelly, D.C., in writing about Louise’s leadership, describes Louise as a proponent of “gentle power,” which she understood as power tempered by gentleness. Yet at the same time, Kelly says, Louise was a “total realist about her sisters and matched their training to their talents.”

Richard McCullen, C.M., writes that Louise “had a facility of collaborating easily with others.” Vincent himself described her as always expressing “humility, charity, meekness and patience” while at the same time exhibiting “a firmness in all her government” and “sound judgment.”

With Vincent’s help, Louise organized the women as the Daughters of Charity, a community of sisters that eventually spread worldwide. During her lifetime, Louise often wrote to the women stationed away from Paris. Sr. Lucy Archer writes of Louise’s concern for the women expressed in her letters: “Nearly every letter contains news of relatives, enquiries about this one, messages to another…these letters show what thoroughly homely relations existed between Louise and her spiritual daughters.”

Today, there are 18,000 members of the Daughters of Charity serving in 94 countries.

St. Catherine University offers a list of ideas for how other colleges and universities can participate in National Catholic Sisters Week.

If you have yet to see it, I highly recommend viewing “Band of Sisters,” a film by Mary Fishman that premiered in Chicago in 2012. It tells the story of Catholic sisters and their movement into new works of social justice after Vatican II and features many sisters from the Chicago area. In addition, you can pick up a copy of “Sewing Hope,” the extraordinary story of Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe, who received an honorary degree from DePaul’s School for New Learning last December in recognition of her work with young girls brutalized by Ugandan rebels.

It’s March—spring is coming. Get inspired by these women, then go out and spread some seeds of new life!

Patricia Bombard, BVM, is the director of DePaul University’s Vincent on Leadership: The Hay Project, which focuses on research, education and training inspired by the leadership legacy of St. Vincent de Paul. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the School of Public Service.

When Opportunity Knocks, What Do You Do?

DWN President Joy Boggs
Joy Boggs, DWN President 2013-14

By Joy Boggs

One of my favorite quotes belongs to Thomas Edison: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” As we begin celebrating Women’s History Month, I am thankful for the women and the men who came before us. I am thankful that they had the vision to recognize opportunity, the courage to seize opportunity with both hands and the fortitude to work with opportunity even in tough times.

I am especially proud of DWN’s founding mothers who turned a problem into an opportunity and an opportunity into a value adding experience for the women of DePaul. In the coming weeks I want you to watch this space. I asked our women colleagues from across the university to contribute their thoughts on the value of being in and participating with a women’s network. I think you will be surprised at what they have to say on the matter.

Check in with us often this March. On the 6th we kick off our Women of Culture Series—a DWN first—and I’m looking forward to the discussions. March 8 is International Women’s Day and it’s also the start of National Catholic Sisters Week. Pat M. Bombard, BVM, Director of Vincent on Leadership: The Hay Project, will be stopping by to share her thoughts on Catholic women’s leadership. I think you will find Pat’s comments a great primer for March 20, when the Network invites DePaul’s resident scholar, Sister Betty Ann McNeil, D.C., to deliver a special guest talk on St. Louise de Marillac’s life and work over tea and treats.

I also asked members of our Network and our Advisory Council to share their experiences of being part of a women’s network. There are some powerful posts coming your way, and I hope they leave you inspired to deepen your connection to DWN. Speaking of deepening your connection, spring is when we make our annual call for members. Have you ever considered formally joining DWN? Well, opportunity is knocking—what are you going to do?

Joy Boggs is President of DePaul Women’s Network for 2013-14 and is Business Manager for the Office of the General Counsel at DePaul University.