Making DePaul Prep Work: Mission & Ministry Department


Ms. Merkl-Deutsch

DePaul Prep is sponsored by the Congregation of the Mission, the religious order founded by Saint Vincent de Paul that spread his message of “What must be done?” Through liturgies and service-learning opportunities, DePaul Prep makes this message its foundation. Behind these events is the hard work of the school’s Mission and Ministry department. 

Florence Merkl-Deutsch is the director of DePaul Prep’s Mission and Ministry department. This school year has been her seventh year working in the school community. 

“I had been working at St. Clement Parish for ten years and just felt called to work in campus ministry. My son was starting here and I was very excited about this growing school and I wanted to be a part of that growth and development,” Merkl-Deutsch explains. 

Merkl-Deutsch’s role as director of the department calls for many detailed tasks. Through planning for all-school Masses, freshman and sophomore retreats, and Kairos, “a lot of what we do is communications and developing the materials to help people gain a deeper understanding of our school’s mission,” she states. 

Merkl-Deutsch elaborates on the mission of the Mission and Ministry department as a whole, explaining that, “Our role is to help people understand that faith and the mission are the starting point for everything we do here at DePaul Prep.”

“Our job is not to make everybody Catholic, but our job is to make everyone Vincentian,” she adds. 

The Vincentian values focus on service and the good of the community. Merkl-Deutsch explains that the mission “…is humble and grateful service to the poor.” 

Campus minister Emelia Gleber adds her own perspective on the mission. Gleber explains that, “At its core, it’s serving those on the margins, so being really present to people who are in need of solidarity and really making sure that we’re always considering the people among us that maybe need the most.”

Ms. Gleber in her Mission and Ministry office

Gleber has been working in the Mission and Ministry department for four years. She came to DePaul Prep after working on long-term service projects after college and developing a love for service and involvement with young people. 

“I went to a Catholic high school, so I kind of had a sense of what campus ministers do. So when this job popped up, it seemed like a really good fit for all of my interests,” Gleber states. 

Her job as a campus minister involves many interactive tasks, ranging from organizing liturgies to planning service and Kairos. She states, “This year, I took more of a focus on Kairos, because we expanded it so much.” 

Kairos is a three day retreat for upperclassmen throughout the school year. While many of the events of the retreat aren’t revealed to preserve its impact for students participating, students are adamant that it’s a worthwhile experience. 

Junior Lilly McCarthy reflects on her own impactful experience at Kairos and her participation in Fourth Day meetings. These are periodic meetings where students are able to catch up with other participants from their previous Kairos retreat. 

“Kairos has helped me make new friends I would’ve never met, and Fourth Day meetings are a good place to reconnect with them every week when they aren’t in my classes,” McCarthy shares.

The Mission and Ministry department’s effect on students is evident, but does not only go one way. Members of the department are also positively impacted by the participation of students. Gleber’s ideal workday emphasizes student involvement.

“I love anything that gets me engaged with the students. Any opportunities they have to spend time with students and help build community with students, that’s a really good day to me,” she states.

Merkl-Deutsch has similar feelings, as her favorite part of her job is witnessing student growth.

“Regardless of what kind of growth that is, it can be spiritually, it can be just understanding their place in the world, identifying gifts that we want to nourish, that’s a big part of what we do in Mission and Ministry,” she explains. 

Not only does the department serve students in the DePaul Prep community, but staff as well. Staff retreats and prayer experiences are examples of events that provide benefits for the staff’s spiritual lives.

Theology teacher Adam Galvez is confident in the role Mission and Ministry plays in his love for DePaul Prep.

He says, “Staff retreat participants often get a lot out of the experience. Mission and Ministry gives me an outlet to share and strengthen my own prayer life.”

For the department, no day looks the same. Merkl-Deutsch uses preparing for school Masses, preparing leaders for Kairos retreats, preparing leaders for sophomore and freshman retreats, and reviewing material to create the right headspace for a faith experience as many examples of what a day for her can possibly include. She says, “Each day is different depending on what we have coming up.” 

The department also will not be stopping there. Next year, there are plans to introduce two new staff-members. The number of services that the department sponsors will also grow.

Merkl-Deutsch explains, “It’s going to be exciting. Since we’ll have those people, Ms. Gleber is going to spearhead senior choice retreats. Seniors will be given single-day retreat options and can choose something that speaks to where they are at the point as they move on to outside of DePaul Prep.”

Gleber believes this growth will help the spread of the Vincentian mission. “We’re going to be able to cover a lot more ground with more people, and really be able to offer engaging retreats and give students more opportunities to really grow in their understanding of what the Vincentian mission is and how it can play a role in their lives moving forward,” she states. 

Gleber also wants individuals at DePaul Prep to remember Mission and Ministry is there to help everyone.

“Come see us. Come hangout. We’re here for you.”