People need to hear the truth. The problem is: how do you share the truth with someone when they do not want to hear it? For Catholics trying to take part in evangelization, it has become increasingly difficult to reach people in our present day, especially when it comes to the truths of the Catholic Faith. For that reason, passionate, well-educated teachers are needed to help today’s youth. Thankfully, five members of the Class of 2020 are already set to begin teaching this fall, ready to help share the truth with those who desperately need it.
For over forty years, Christendom alumni have decided to join the educational field after graduation, whether as teachers, school administrators, or even school founders. Five of the college’s newest alumni, Michael Echaniz, Margaret Howerton, Samuel Morales, Rowena Owen, and Maria Ortega, are now joining their ranks. Three of them — Howerton, Morales, and Owen — will be serving as Seton Teaching Fellows in the Bronx, New York, while Echaniz and Ortega will be joining the faculty of Great Hearts Teaching Academy in San Antonio, Texas.
According to Echaniz, his discernment into becoming a teacher began, suitably, in the classroom. In Dr. Joseph Brutto’s political science and economics classes, Echaniz became convinced that today’s modernist culture is filled with emotivism, making it near impossible to convince anyone of anything once they have matured and their opinions have been set. Wanting to evangelize after graduation, Echaniz decided that the best way to do that would be to become a teacher.
“How am I supposed to change minds and bring people to the truth if most of the world doesn’t want to hear it?” shared Echaniz. “I came to the conclusion that the best way to do so was to reach people while they were still able to be formed. So many people do not grow up with any exposure to the truth, and I’m becoming a teacher so that I can be in a position to give it to them.”
Echaniz and Ortega will both be moving to Texas to become assistant teachers at a Great Hearts school. Great Hearts offers a humanities-based liberal arts education to the public, tuition-free, in Phoenix, Arizona, San Antonio, and Irving, Texas. Echaniz and Ortega’s backgrounds at Christendom will set them up for success in that environment, enabling them to live out their passions.
“I want to be a teacher because I desire to spread the truth that I have come to understand more deeply at Christendom. I am extremely grateful that Christendom could give me that understanding in the first place,” said Echaniz.
While Echaniz and Ortega will be going to Texas, Morales, Owen, and Howerton will be heading up to the Bronx. As Seton Teaching Fellows, they will be serving a largely Latino neighborhood in the South Bronx, where over half of all families live below the poverty line. The three of them will be specifically teaching in the El Camino program, which provides Catholic faith formation, activity classes and sports, character development, and homework for kindergarten through sixth-grade students.
In the case of Howerton, her heart was moved to join the program as a teacher after hearing another alumna, Isabella Gadapee (’18), talk about the mission of the Seton Teaching Fellows. While she initially was not discerning a call to become a teacher, the mission appealed to her and she applied to join the program.
“I realized that I have been blessed with gifts that I can share with others through teaching,” said Howerton. “[At Christendom], I was blessed with discovering that the best teachers are flesh and blood individuals who know how to relate to others in charity. I was most importantly provided with a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith than I’d had before. All of these will definitely assist me in teaching the after-school program called El Camino, where we help ‘disciples’ learn more about the faith.”
Morales, who is originally from the North Bronx, agreed with Howerton’s thoughts. He was still discerning his vocation when his sister, Sabrina (’19), another Seton Teaching Fellow, also encouraged him to look into the program. After years of working with kids at local summer camps, Morales saw joining the Seton Teaching Fellows as a natural next step.
In the South Bronx, Morales will strive to appeal to everyone’s different learning styles and is excited to tailor his classes for every individual student he teaches. The teachings of the Faith that he learned at Christendom will especially be helpful as he evangelizes to his students.
“The best thing I got out of Christendom that prepared me for this job was a solid grounding in the teachings of our Faith, considering I will be teaching my own ‘El Camino’ class throughout the year, which is like a CCD class. This definitely helped me in the interviews and, to be honest, it’s why Seton loves graduates from Christendom.”
The world needs to hear the truths of the Catholic Faith — truths that these new graduates are eager to share. Whether they are in Texas or New York, Echaniz, Howerton, Morales, Owen, and Ortega will be directly impacting the hearts and minds of the next generation, sharing with them the same truths they learned in the classrooms at Christendom College.