By Rebecca Morris (Cohort 7)
Becca graduated from the University of Dallas, where she studied Biology, Drama, and Biopsychology. She currently serves as a Seton Teaching Fellow at Brilla College Prep Elementary School, working with first grade during the day and teaching first and second grade catechism after school at El Camino. She blesses her students and our mission by her earnest service and genuine kindness and care.
“Make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred let me sow love.” At Mass today, on the feast day of St. Francis, the choir at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi created an aura of peace and strength while singing this prayer. It felt like a particular God moment for me after a long week of in-person teaching and the need to reevaluate my purpose within this mission. The priest opened his homily calling the congregation to commit to love of neighbor. He spoke of the constant struggle and journey to see God in each and every person we come across, and before all things we must love.
Before this on my subway ride to Mass I had been frantically trying to catch up on reading for Seton’s formation book club, with this month’s book being The War is the Passion by Caryll Houselander. In this book she describes the struggles of a Christian while being in London during the second World War. Many of her reflections have struck a chord with the times we live in, particularly in how to find Christ when our usual routines and obligations have been altogether removed. Her words contain great hope, showing the tenacity of each and every Christian to find God within their everyday life. One particular paragraph has stuck with me of something I must continuously move to accomplish in my day. “Many have been taught that unless you are on your knees, and unless you say a lot, you are not praying; that you pray with words and thoughts only. This is wrong, prayer is raising the heart and mind to God. You pray when you pray well, with your body with your hands and feet, and head and heart, your ribs pray, your ears pray, your eyes pray.” This I believe is the aim of Seton Teaching Fellows within our year of service. Everything we do is an offer to prayer.
The Fellows are called to be present and participants in so many communities around us. Our own individual communities within our living situations, Brilla Charter Schools, El Camino, Seton Education Partners, and St. Rita’s, El Camino’s beloved parish lead fearlessly with the booming laughs and joy of Fr. Pablo. Every day is another assignment, another lesson to plan, another Zoom meeting to attend, so finding time to pray has been an interesting struggle. For me, I have found those moments within our walks to school, the quiet of the morning, or the subway ride into the city. Occasionally I find it watering our flowers outside of Tinton, or on the staircase in Brilla. I am beginning to learn that the best time to pray is to constantly be praying. To continuously reaffirm my day to God, for He is able to give me strength to move forward and give my best to the mission at hand.
Being a Seton Teaching Fellow has been a constant reminder to pray, but even more so it has allowed me to understand how to love through intentional relationships. Fellows do not get to pick their roommates, so on our arrival to New York we were thrown into a two week quarantine with people we have semi-met over zoom. Katie, Mary Grace, and Cecilia have shown me how to better verbalize my own feelings within a home, as well as create intentional time to be in community with them. The best moments have always had something to do with a speaker, too little energy being somehow transformed into fits of giggles, and dancing on chairs. There is the joy and there is the peace, every morning we wake up and pray together before we head out on our days. This intentionality has given me a structure that has greatly helped me center my day. I then am able to take that love I have been shown and transfer to my scholars and grade team. We are able to work together to show our children the love we have for them to learn and grow. Whether or not they are present in our El Camino classes, I have come to realize that though I am here to teach Catechism, I also need to teach with love. Through love, joy, and care of all students and people I come in contact with, I can see Christ in them and I pray they see Christ in me.
This fellowship has not been what I expected. I gave my fiat to STF long before the coronavirus was a blip on the world’s radar. Yet I can see God visibly working to strengthen me as an individual throughout this year to grow these gifts I have been given in whatever His will is after this. Though we have only had one week of in person teaching under our belts, I can see the Fellows each growing in different ways. I know God has brought us together for a reason and we each have a different talent and strength to help make this team work especially in times such as these. I am so fortunate to be in this city, with so much history and hardship, I only hope that this year I can impact and foster relationships that will last a lifetime and learn to pray well. With every part of me, I continue this journey as a Seton Teaching Fellow to pray well, with my hands, my feet, my heart, my soul.