By Seton Teaching Fellow, Liz Knezetic
In my two months living New York City as a Seton Teaching Fellow, I have been struck by so much opportunity, grace and invitation. By opportunity, I mean infinite chances to encounter new things and meet new people who embody what it means to be diverse. By grace, I mean the chance to experience God in sacramental moments and everyday moments. And finally, by invitation, I mean the constant asking of those around me to join them on their journey or at least, part of it.
Twelve fellows have come from across the world to experience these three things together for the next year. We live together, teach together and share in community nights. After just two weeks of experiencing this, I have found a guiding moment, a touchstone if you will. This moment has become a way to remind myself and push myself to be a fellow that embraces these three things and everything that comes with this experience. This moment occurred as the twelve fellows and some very dedicated and passionate staff sat together in a conference room learning about why we are here and what we do. We had a conference call with a woman who has a large part in why we were all able to gather in that room. Her name is Stephanie Saroki de Garcia and she is a co-founder of Seton Education Partners, the non-profit organization that has gathered the fellows and brought us to serve the Brilla Charter Schools Network here in the Bronx, NY. Stephanie explained our mission, our purpose and how we came to be. I purposely say ‘we’ because she helped us feel like part of what Seton does and the impact our work has. However, before this impact was ever felt or dreamed of, Stephanie had to ask herself a very important question, one that has a life-changing answer.
When looking at the decline of Catholic schools and juxtaposing that with her desire to educate and evangelize, she asked herself, “What if we could do this differently?” From this one simple question, a network of incredible schools coupled with a faith based after-school program was born. To support this mission, the fellows program was also born. Someone dared to think differently and from this, has created a network of critical thinkers, big dreamers and mission minded men and women with the ultimate purpose to serve others. We are here as fellows because we are up for the challenge to think differently, live differently and strive to do more, to be more. I now ask myself each day, “What if I did this differently?” and from this, I have embraced opportunity, celebrated God’s grace and relished in the invitation to join others.
Daring to do things differently as fellows means that we live in the neighborhood we serve, we live in an intentional faith community and we push ourselves to teach in ways that will get our scholars to college and to heaven. Being a Seton Teaching Fellow means embracing the opportunity and the invitation to experience and share God’s grace differently. What if we all asked ourselves this question? What could happen if we all acted upon this desire to do things differently? I seek to find out.