Meet Me at the Mission teaches DePaul the real meaning of Mardi Gras


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Troves of delectable seafood and deep-fried delights were shared among DePaul students Tuesday night as they celebrated St. Vincent DePaul’s mission and values at the carnival celebration of Mardi Gras. 

DePaul University’s Meet Me at the Mission hosted the event “Mardi Gras with the Vincentians” at the Vincentian Residence, also known as the home of the Saint Vincent de Paul Parish. Rev. Jeremy Dixon attended the event along with several pastors and a diverse crowd of students. 

Mardi Gras, also referred to as “Fat Tuesday,” is the Catholic holiday that celebrates the last night before the penitential season of Lent. The festivities consist of eating rich and fat-filled foods before transitioning to fasting during Lenten season. Popularized in the U.S. by New Orleans culture,Mardi Gras has become a staple of Catholic culture. 

When people think of Mardi Gras, images of feathery costumes, multi-colored beads and boozy jazz might dance across their mind. There are many misconceptions of the Mardi Gras festival as it has become a drinking holiday over the years, joining the ranks of cultural celebrations such as Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s day.  

The real celebration is an extravagant and wholesome festival surrounding Catholic faith and values. In the South, Mardi Gras is an event for families to join together and celebrate their faith and heritage.  

DePaul sophomore Sarah Stolpe who attended the event admitted that “I never realized that Mardi Gras had a religious dimension to it.”

 “I don’t think many of my residents do either. It would be great to celebrate more events like these to introduce the values of our school,” she said. 

The night kicked off with Father Jose of the Saint Vincent de Paul Parish explaining his faith and journey to becoming a pastor. 

“I responded to a call from God, he told me to help people,” he said. “I wanted a community, a larger family.” 

While traditionally a celebration of Catholicism, Meet Me at the Mission insisted upon upholding St. Vincent DePaul’s values of inclusion and diversity. Erin Hughes, Meet Me at the Mission workshop coordinator, praised the Mardi Gras celebration. 

“The inclusion of spirituality at this event is about something outside ourselves, but about community and dialogue,” she said.

Once the spiritual messages concluded, the clergy and DePaul community members joined together for the feast. Chicken, fried rice and grits were shared among the students with plenty of desserts to choose from. 

Isabella Miller, an attendee and sophomore at DePaul University stated that despite not considering herself a religious person, she thought it was important to be at Meet Me at the Mission’s events.

“This is about educating ourselves and learning about different cultures,” Miller said. “Not only am I learning about Catholicism, but Southern traditions as well.”

Mardi Gras is one of many spiritual celebrations that provides the opportunity for students to meet new people, celebrate faith and provide resources on how to help the DePaul community. Meet Me at the Mission encourages students to join together in creating a diverse group that puts the needs of the less fortunate before themselves. 

While Meet Me at the Mission’s Mardi Gras was not the traditional college party students come to expect, at the end of the meal, students and faculty left with new friends and a better understanding of DePaul University’s mission. 

Meet Me at the Mission is hosting four more events for the winter term. The events serve as an opportunity for students to get to know each other and learn more about the organization. Information for the upcoming events can be found on their Instagram @mmatdepaul.