Fr. Dennis Holstchneider evokes the powerful image of the first Vincentians crossing the ocean 200 years ago to  a new world. These days mark “the 200th anniversary of the Congregation’s arrival in the United States, which we celebrate this year. Those first four Vincentians from the province of Rome left Europe by ship on June 12th and arrived in the U.S. on July 23rd.”

“Think of that. Exactly 200 years ago, on these same dates of this Assembly, those missionaries were at sea. They did not know what would await them here, but they were filled with faith and determined to build up the Church in the new territories. Like those missionaries at sea, you too have traveled far to be here, and you too are wondering and reflecting about the future of our Congregation’s work. Thank you for taking these weeks for that reflection and for your leadership as you help all of us bring the work of St. Vincent de Paul to a new and always-changing world.”

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Opening address to delegates of the General Assembly Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M. President of DePaul University 26 June 2016
My brothers,

Welcome to DePaul University. My name is Dennis Holtschneider and I am one of the 33 confreres who participate in the work of the university.

  • Some teach or work as administrators.
  • Others are in pastoral ministry, or serve the poor and help our students to meet the poor by doing so.
  • Two confreres (as well as a daughter of charity) work as Vincentian historians.
  • Two work in formation.
  • Seven more confreres govern the university on one of its two boards.
  • 8 others are confreres from around the world who are studying for their graduate degrees.

One more, Fr. Gregg Bañaga from the Philippines, spent a sabbatical year with us this past year and was a blessing to our house and to our university in the process.

DePaul was founded in 1898, making it 116 years old this year, but the Vincentians have labored on this piece of land since 1870, founding a small church at Chicago’s northern edge as the city grew because of massive immigration from Europe.Today, the university has 24,000 students and nearly 2500 employees. Everyone – including our lay employees and our students – consider themselves “Vincentians.” And it is in all their names that I welcome you today.

I welcome you, too, in the name of the presidents of other Vincentian universities: Niagara University, St. John’s University in NYC, Adamson University in the Philippines and DePaul College in India. All of us are honored that you have chosen a Vincentian university for your meetings. Please know that we will be praying for you and your work every day while you are here.

A number of our DePaul University community will be staffing this assembly. I know you will find, as I have, how large their hearts are, and how much they love this university. They will be present to staff your meetings; they will help with your computers; they will prepare your meals; they will staff your residence; they will assist with your liturgies, and much more. They have worked hard for many months, and they too are honored to play a part in this historic gathering – the first time a General Assembly has been held outside of Europe.

As you walk along Belden Avenue between this building and your residence, you will see a clock about 3 meters in height. The names of every Vincentian priest and brother ever assigned to DePaul University appear on it. The monument was completed just a few days ago, and marks the 200th anniversary of the Congregation’s arrival in the United States, which we celebrate this year. Those first four Vincentians from the province of Rome left Europe by ship on June 12th and arrived in the U.S. on July 23rd.

Think of that. Exactly 200 years ago, on these same dates of this Assembly, those missionaries were at sea. They did not know what would await them here, but they were filled with faith and determined to build up the Church in the new territories. Like those missionaries at sea, you too have traveled far to be here, and you too are wondering and reflecting about the future of our Congregation’s work.

Thank you for taking these weeks for that reflection and for your leadership as you help all of us bring the work of St. Vincent de Paul to a new and always-changing world. Thank you again for hosting your meetings here at DePaul. We are honored and humbled that you are here. May God deeply bless your work during these days.

Que Dieu vous bénisse.
Que Dios les bendiga.
God bless you.