By Seton Teaching Fellow, Emilia Tanu
“Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Letter to the Ephesians 5:21
As Seton Teaching Fellows, we are well into the school year. The high of moving to the Bronx and meeting 11 other talented and multifaceted young people of God has quietly become an intense but meaningful routine. We have attended our weekly formation nights with passion and relief; lastly, managed to navigate an educator’s professional and demanding schedule with a only few bruises. Our orientation at Seton, onboarding at Brilla, and raw first weeks of preparing ourselves for service have passed; the call to serve is here. We spent days unpacking the mission statements of both Seton Education Partners and Brilla Charter Schools. This practice was intended to nourish and shape our actions toward this greater call which we all are attracted to: sending children to both college and Heaven. Mission statements often carry this naive and idealistic stigma; they appear on flawless marketing brochures and pass through professional development stamped on screensavers and introductory Powerpoint slides. But here, our mission statements are consecrated through our work everyday. They are flesh and bone of the inspiring educators we work alongside. They are flesh and bone of those heart-wrenching moments where none of your lesson plans accounted for the learning curve on classroom management and relationship-building with infinitely complex and beautiful children. We, as Fellows, are finding our call in the daily renewal of serving both missions. It is in those humbling moments where you realize responding to here, requires emptying oneself of their pre-conceived desires and ambitions from this year of service.
Several weeks ago, another fellow, Zachary Faust, and I were walking back from our weekly formation night together. We share some lamentations about how our week was going; our conversation mostly centered around disappointments in our classrooms and instruction. It was in this moment where we realized that this is service. We were all prepared to live in an intentional-faith based community, to live simply, and to work in an underserved community. However, our here, is the constant renewal of our commitment to serving our mission daily. This is where the work begins, in those deeply uncomfortable moments where your talent, education, and personality seem to not be enough for service. Those uncomfortable moments where you begin to remove your plans, ideas, and judgements, leaving you empty.
I am beginning to understand that true adherence to any good mission is holding onto it as an anchor when God sometimes asks of you to become empty and humble: reorganizing books in the middle school library, cleaning the elementary school art room after a long day, attending VIP students to provide co-teachers with breathing room, and learning to eat your lunch as fast as humanly possible in order to be on time to pick up the scholars from their lunch. You are empty so you can be filled with your fulfillment of your mission. Rather than your desires coming first, the mission does. This is where God begins to transform us into educators who can love the Other.