I was born and raised in Chicago, but grew up in a traditional Mexican Catholic household. By traditional I mean that my family and I would go to church every Sunday morning and have breakfast together afterwards. Another thing was that I was never allowed to sleepover at friend’s house. I am sure that some people can relate to me as that was one of their parent’s rule. As a child I never understood it, but the older I got the more I was able to understand them. I learned that they were only trying to protect me as any parent who wants to protect their child. I did not always agree with my parent’s way of thinking or rules, but again the older I became, I was able to understand them.
My family have always been there for me and have supported me throughout my life. My mom especially has been there when I needed her the most and is my role model. She has taught me to never give up and that even if things seem impossible you can overcome them. She taught me and I have learned on my own that whatever happens in life whether good or bad it is a lesson learned. I have learned that when you encounter difficult times in life it makes you stronger.
My parents taught me to always be thankful for what I have and value things. My dad grew up very poor and would always tell me the struggle he went through growing up. Hearing those stories made me appreciate what I have. My mother also told me stories of when she was growing up, but although she had it much easier than my dad she would help out at the church or take food to prisoners. I guess that is why I grew up with the interest of wanting to help others.
My Love for DePaul
When applying to colleges DePaul was one of my options because it was a good school, I liked that they always promoted themselves as being diverse, and it was Catholic. The fact that it was a Catholic University was not a priority, but I thought of it as a plus as I consider myself Catholic. Once in school I liked DePaul, but I felt that there was something missing to say I really like my school.
I had heard briefly about Vincent de Paul, but did not have much knowledge of him. I remember reading one day about a tour the school did to Paris to learn more about Vincent de Paul. I thought that it would be a great experience and I looked up the requirements to apply. I saw that the class of the Life of Vincent de Paul was required in order to go. I looked at my progress report and saw it fit perfectly as it would cover my religious domain, but also an elective for my CSS minor.
I took the class and started to really learn about Vincent de Paul and about the school’s mission statement. The more I learned, the more I fell in love with DePaul. I loved that Vincent de Paul had helped so many people and that it came out his heart. I think the thing that I like the most is that he was this young priest who was looking to have a successful career where he could support his family. That all changed as he went to Paris and saw that there was so many poor people and he decided that he wanted to do something about it. I thought that this gave him the aspect that he was a normal human being, but it did not feel quite complete.
I applied to the Vincentian Heritage Tour and was one of the lucky ones to get selected to go to this amazing trip. This was just the beginning to an amazing adventure.
Prior to this trip I had never been to Europe. I had only ever traveled to Mexico so this was a completely new experience for me. I was nervous and really did not know what to expect. I had seen pictures of Paris, but I could not believe I would actually be seeing those places in person. I was very worried about the language as I do not know French. It made me nervous to think I was going to be exposed to a different language and culture. This was definitely out of comfort zone as I always like to be in control and this was not the case. I kind of had to go with the flow and see what would happen.
I remember being on the airplane and still feeling like it was all surreal. Once we landed in France and were on the bus driving to our hotel it hit me and thought okay I am in France. I remember driving to the hotel and passing by a flea market and thinking wow this reminds me of Mexico.
The journey was about to just begin and it would start with seeing the remains of Vincent de Paul which I thought was pretty amazing. After that we went to Notre Dame cathedral and the church where Louise de Marillac got married. Everything was interesting to learn about especially seeing it in person and looking at the amazing architecture. Then the day to go to Folleville came!
I was pretty intrigued and excited to see where Vincent de Paul had, had his turning point. I remember walking into the church and it smelling a little odd, not in a bad way, but in a way that transported you back in time. Hearing father Eudovic talk and explain everything about the church made me think wow Vincent was here where I am and all of these other people that lived in this town. I thought that maybe I would have this turning point here, but it did not happen and I was kind of bummed.
My Turning Point
Later that day we went to the Amiens Cathedral which was beautiful. I remember walking in and my jaw kind of dropping. As I was walking down the aisle I remembering thinking of my life and going to church with my parents every Sunday morning. As we approached the center father Eudovic told us to look at the floor and see the labyrinth that was there and explained that the meaning was that you could encounter obstacles in your life, but you will find a way to make it to the end and also that your faith will be there at the end. In that moment, it struck me and I thought about my mom and what she had told me. She had always told me that there would be difficult times in life, but we need to learn to overcome them and keep going with our lives.
I was able to reassure my faith and what I want in my life. I guess I was going through a moment in life where I had so many things going on that I was loosing myself. I knew that I definitely considered myself a religious person (Catholic) not because of my parents, but because I really felt it in my heart. Up to this day my strong believes and staying true to them and who I am have brought me to where I am. They have also brought wonderful encounters with meaningful people in my life. Not all of them have stayed a part of my life, but they have definitely made an impact that will stay with me forever. That is life and you keep going if things change. Even if things or people in your life change, the key is to never forget who you are. I guess you could say that this was my own turning point.
The trip was definitely an extraordinary experience that I will always remember. I met incredible and saw amazing sites. Being able to see the actual places where Vincent was, really made him so much more real and gave me the feeling that he was just a normal human being like any of us. It showed me that if this regular man was able to do so much for people we could as well. As small as it might seem, any contribution is worth it because you can be making a difference in this world. It also gave me hope for people as that they can change. Here was this young man (Vincent) who was looking to basically secure his future, which sounds so self-interested to becoming a man that helped so many people that were poor, sick, and children as well.
There is Hope
It gave me hope which is hard, especially with everything going on in the world right now. I think that if we dedicate our time to try to make a difference we can achieve it. I know I will try to help those who need it. I am currently an intern at a Non-profit called LUCHA that helps people with foreclosure or that are trying to buy a home for the first time. A lot of the clients are Latinos and speak very limited English, so it makes me happy that I am able to help them with such big issues in a language they understand which is Spanish.
Throughout my career I hope to help people whether it is by providing financial education or helping children get an education. Being an accounting major I hope to be able to help people make wise financial decisions or support children that want an education. I would like to by being able to donate money to a scholarship as I myself know it is very difficult to get an education when you do not have the resources.
My experience on this trip was one that I will always remember. It was one that made me think of who I was and what I must do in order to be able to help others. Not only that, but also what we can do as a whole community to help others. We only have a life and we should try to make the best out of it, not only for ourselves, but for all of those that surround us.
This story and others share the Vincentian leadership journey of DePaul University students walking in the footsteps of Vincent de Paul on the Vincentian Heritage Tour.