Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M. has been serving as DePaul University’s President for the past 13 years. As he prepares to step down as DePaul‘s president at the end of this academic year, I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to him for all the work he has done during his tenure as president.
Since transferring to DePaul in the fall of 2013, I have had the privilege to get to know Fr. Holtschneider.
I remember vividly the day I was introduced to Fr. Dennis by a friend of mine. I was in the Catholic Campus Ministry office talking to a friend when Fr. Dennis happened to walk by. After asking my friend if that was the president of the university, I was offered to be introduced to Fr. Dennis.
When meeting Fr. Holtschneider, I was pleasantly surprised that he was interested in knowing who I was. The reason why I found it interesting that Fr. Holtschneider wanted to get to know more about me was because usually most people that I meet want to know only the surface level of who I am. But, he wanted to dive in deeper.
The second time we met, it was after a mass, and he couldn’t remember who I was or my name. So I introduced myself to him again, and he told me that he would not forget my name ever again. After that we didn’t see each other for a while. Almost a year later, I was coming back from a retreat and he was presiding over mass that night. I was prepared to introduce myself again, and he came over and said “Hi Fabrice, how are you doing?”
After that, he and I had different conversations where I would talk to him about accessibility on campus, and what I wanted to see changed. He’s always had DePaul’s best interests at heart, and his support for the DePaul community has never wavered. Although he has faced ups and downs during his tenure as President, I think he handled it in the best way he knew how.
One of my favorite memories that demonstrates how Fr. Holtschneider cares about the DePaul community happened last year when the archbishop of Chicago came to DePaul to preside over mass.
I told Fr. Holtschneider the Friday prior my mother was going to come to mass, and after mass he walked over to say hello to me, and I introduced him to my mother as well. To my surprise, he told my mother, “Thank you for sharing him with us.”
That moment let me know how important I was to the community, and how important I was to him. For him to say that to the most important person in my life made me feel special.
He has been a mentor to me over the years. He has given me some great advice as far as my future is concerned. He has always been someone that I look up to and admire. Although him stepping down is a bittersweet moment for the community I want to take this opportunity to wish him nothing but the best in his new position.
Thank you Fr. Holtschneider for always giving your heart to the DePaul community from your friend Fabrice Lekina.
May God bless you.