Embracing the Vincentian Mission
Jerry Girsch and his wife Linda first learned about the Vincentians when Jerry was invited to join the board of trustees at DePaul University. As they drew closer to the Vincentians at DePaul – the largest Catholic university in the country – they knew quickly that they wanted to play a role in supporting the mission.
“We liked that the university offered opportunities for first-generation college students and families in need,” Jerry recalls. “Linda and I did not come from wealthy families and our parents did not have college degrees, so the idea of helping students in need struck a chord with us.”
“We are so grateful for all the blessings in our life. The ability to share those with others through the work of the Vincentians is a great privilege for us.”
– Linda Girsch
The more Jerry and Linda learned about the charism and works of the Vincentians, the more they wanted to help. After being involved at DePaul for several years, the couple joined others from the Vincentian Family on a trip to Paris to learn about the life of St. Vincent. They visited historic sites, experienced Vincentian spirituality and formed friendships with others working to promote the mission.
“When we see the work that Vincentians are doing all over the world, we have complete confidence that our gifts will help the poor in a meaningful way,” Linda explains. “The Vincentians take their mission seriously, and we know the funds are being put to good use.”
Jerry and Linda love that education is a top priority for the Vincentians. Early in their marriage, the couple was involved with a mentoring program for inner city youth. They saw that, through education, entire families can be lifted out of poverty. Their support of DePaul University has allowed them to continue offering opportunities to people in need through education.
“We were concerned that a lot of students do not graduate in four years,” Jerry explains. “Many of these students have family issues, health concerns, financial issues. We helped the university find ways to provide financing for these students in need beyond their first four years at DePaul.”
Jerry and Linda love the humility and zeal for the Gospel that they have seen in so many of the priests and brothers they have met over the years. “Every time I’m in their presence, I sense the love they have for our Lord,” Linda says. “They are a joy-filled group of men.”
“When Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M., first started as president of DePaul University – his first day on the job – he attended Jerry’s dad’s funeral and concelebrated the memorial Mass,” Linda recalls. “It was so touching to us that he would take such an interest in our family.”
More recently, the couple has extended support for the retired priests and brothers at the Apostle of Charity Residence in Perryville, MO. After a trip to see the facility and meet with retired confreres, they decided to help in whatever ways they could.
“When you understand what the Vincentians are all about, it is an easy thing to embrace,” Jerry explains. “For anyone who has been blessed like we have with family, friends, health, financial stability, it is easy to get behind the Vincentian mission of helping the poor.”
Jerry and Linda live in Chicago, where they are active in their parish and support other charitable initiatives. They have five children and ten grandchildren. “We are so grateful for all the blessings in our life,” says Linda. “The ability to share those with others through the work of the Vincentians is a great privilege for us.”