Emily Maurer is a graduate of the University of South Alabama, where she studied Education. In this short writing, she shares with us some of what led her to say yes Seton Teaching Fellows. We are so excited for her to bless our mission with her faith, her perseverance, and her desire for mission.
When I first started at the University of South Alabama, I had no relationship with God. And now, a year after graduating, I’ve said “yes” to serving as a Cohort 8 missionary with the Seton Teaching Fellows next year! How did this transformation take place? This is my story of faith and trust.
During my Junior year of college I went on a retreat called Alabama Awakening. Before Awakening, I didn’t have a relationship with God, but this retreat gave me an understanding of the depth of the Catholic Church as well as God’s love and His loving plan for me. During the two semesters of that year, I dove into this new relationship with God, and was able to rely on Him while dealing with new challenges that were unfolding in my life. First were obstacles at school, then the failure of a very important exam, and finally, my mother’s passing away from cancer. I knew that if I hadn’t gone on that retreat and opened my heart to the Lord, I would never have had the strength to endure those challenges, nor the relationship with God that I do now.
After the retreat, God also prepared me to say yes to this mission through a series of small steps. First, I participated in a summer catechesis program, Totus Tuus, which helped me grow and better understand my faith. Then, I became so much more engaged in my faith upon returning to campus that my campus minister felt comfortable nudging me to Kayla Keller, STF recruiter, to learn more about the program.
For a year and a half the idea of being a Seton Teaching Fellow continued to linger in my mind, even after graduating and securing a full-time job as an elementary school teacher. Friends and family questioned the idea of doing a year of missionary work after having a full-time paying job, and found myself answering with confidence, “This organization’s mission is after my own heart. The opportunity to be surrounded by people who share the same faith while continuing to grow as an educator is something that you do not see often. The ability to serve for God’s glory on this earth will surpass any earthly treasure.” St. Francis de Sales says it best, “There is nothing small in the service of God.” After this realization, the final step was to apply.
Though I have graduated and am teaching now, I still see myself as a student with Jesus as my teacher. The past several months have taught me about patience, kindness, and compassion. My view of teaching has expanded beyond academics—I’ve learned to be more than an educator by trying to be a vessel Jesus can use to reach each student I serve. That is the most important part of this mission now and soon as a Fellow. To let God work through me.
Being a teacher has not been easy, but it has been necessary. I know God is with me every step of the way. Even though I expect many challenges as a Fellow, there is also a certain joy that the Holy Spirit enables you to carry during your suffering. A joy that I’ve experienced already. “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)