A Call for Justice Set in Stone

 

Father Jack
Statue of Monsignor John J. Egan

DePaul University is at home with the call to justice, with the ending of the cycle of poverty and the work to build vibrant communities. If Chicago, the State of Illinois, and the nation are a “mess,” as described in Fr. Ed Udovic’s TEDx talk, DePaul University finds its inspiration to transform that mess in the lives of St. Vincent DePaul and Monsignor John Joseph Eagan.

The largest public statues of St. Vincent on campus show him holding a child and engaging in conversations with young adults. The art captures Vincent’s very individual approach that now undergirds DePaul University’s charism of Vincentian personalism. When rooted deeply in the dignity of each person education can be transformative.

With Louise de Marillac’s Daughters of Charity and others as partners, St. Vincent de Paul himself transformed the face of France. His challenge – “What must be done?” – in the face of poverty and injustice rings as truly now as it did in the 17th century. In forming educational leaders, DePaul University hears Vincent’s voice: “What you are about to undertake is a great work. I pray that our Lord will bless your leadership.”

Outside DePaul University’s student center, stands a modern statue of the “priest with the big hands.” Monsignor “Jack” Egan, son of immigrants, earned a DePaul degree before entering the seminary and was serving DePaul at the time of his death at 84,
heading the Office of Community Affairs. In between, his man whom the Chicago Tribune called “the conscience of the city,” was active in racial integration and urban renewal in Chicago and across the nation, serving both the Archdiocese of Chicago
and the University of Notre Dame as activist, teacher, mentor, and reformer.

Why the big hands on Father Jack? Maybe because it takes them to reach out to engage others in transformational service. In the words of the then DePaul University president, Fr. Jack could “challenge people without alienating them…he kept the dialogue open so that change could actually happen.”

The College of Education of DePaul University finds its core in acting and educating for justice.

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