The Power of Parents

Seton Teaching Fellows are models of faith, service and sacrifice. They defer their plans for continued education or employment after graduation to instead offer a year of their lives to share the love of God with children. These days, in a time of uncertainty and fear, that sacrifice is even greater.

But from where does this willingness to give come? Parents.

The parents of our Fellows—the same ones who are nervous about their child leaving the safety and security of home—are the ones who have inspired Fellows to serve. And we are so grateful.

Sarah and Patrick Mealey, parents to 2018-19 Seton Teaching Fellow Claire, expressed concern as one of their initial feelings when Claire accepted the role as a Fellow.

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They described their feelings in a post on the Seton Teaching Fellows blog: “The concern was both in the sheer distance from home (and the knowledge that we would not get to see much of her) and for her safety. At the same time, we knew that if the Lord was calling her to this, it was something she had to do—even with the risks. We had to pray for the grace of ‘holy indifference,’ knowing that if it was the Lord’s will, then His will should be done.”

The generosity of our Fellows’ parents doesn’t stop at giving up seeing their child much during a year of service. Some do even more.

This spring, the family of 2019-20 Fellow Madison Palmieri purchased tens of thousands of surgical masks to distribute to organizations providing direct service to those in need. They sought to protect those who work in close contact with the communities they serve, starting with their home community of Baltimore. They distributed masks to Catholic Charities of Baltimore, Associated Jewish Charities of Baltimore, The Maryland Food Bank, and the RedCross Chesapeake Region Blood team, and various parishes. They also sent 2,000 masks to Seton and the Brilla Schools teams.

“You have been serving on the front lines to provide essentials for the families, and we appreciate your dedication and service to the community,” they wrote in an email to Seton.

Madison’s parents were thrilled to see their daughter become a Fellow because they saw how passionate she was about the work.

“We were proud to see her make such a commitment,” her dad, Paul, says. “Admittedly, we were a bit nervous, and looking to make sure we understood all of the dynamics of the day-to-day and life in the Bronx. Once the program began, we were glad to hear the wonderful stories about the children, the families, and the training. We even had a great tour and visit to Brilla College Prep during the Christmas season. It was so obvious to see that this was God's love in action, we fittingly met a young lady named...Love.”

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Mike and Alicia Hernon—whose daughters, Katie and Moira, each served as Fellows—share their love of family and their desire to spread hope through their blog and podcast, The Messy Family Project. They provide Catholic conversations on marriage and family, offering encouragement and practical advice to parents, as well as resources for prayer, reflection, and discussion. The Hernons encourage each of their children to give a year of service after college. It comes as no surprise that this beautiful and “messy” family of twelve has nurtured two incredible Seton Teaching Fellows.

Even in the midst of a pandemic, the parents of a new Fellow donated a $1,000 matching gift in our latest effort for #LivingHope to Adopt-A-Fellow. “She is so excited about going! Can’t lie, going to miss her, but we know she will be off doing what she is supposed to be doing,” her mother says.

At first, this Fellow’s parents were hesitant about her desire to become a Fellow. Her mom explains: “‘You want to go where and do what?’ and ‘Is this legit? I have never heard of this group and you want to go for a year?’ I didn't try and dissuade her, but didn't really encourage her at first. However, she kept researching and talking to people who were or had been Fellows and telling me about it, so I knew she was serious about applying. … She is our child that likes an adventure. Her desire to learn more about her faith and discipleship have taken her from Georgia to Haiti, and even to Germany. You gotta go where God calls, right?”

Our Seton Teaching Fellows’ parents have raised children who are now impacting the lives of children and families, giving the gift of spiritual nourishment at a time when it’s needed more than ever. We thank them for instilling in their precious children the faith and values that motivate them to serve. We thank them for living the virtue of hope, and for encouraging their children to bring that hope into the world in selfless and beautiful ways.

Please pray for our Fellows, and their parents! You can sign up to pray or to give to the Seton Teaching Fellows program by adopting a Fellow.