My name is Sean Mundy and I was a Dominican Volunteer from 2011-2012 at St. Pius V School in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. I lived at the Carlos Morales house (a lay community), but shared community with the Dominican Sisters of Springfield at Martin de Porres Convent and the friars of the Central Province. My community allowed me to discover new ways of living out my faith life. My fellow volunteers and extended community taught me new ways to pray, their experiences of faith, and more about official Church teaching. I even learned more about Ignatian spirituality (thanks Becky, go Creighton!). We watched documentaries and held study nights, exposing me to many social justice issues. I tried new foods and I grew in so many ways. I was excited to be able to work in education, a field that I had studied in college. I learned a great deal about Hispanic ministry, since St. Pius V School serves a majority of Mexican American students.
Also, our students were below the poverty line, with close to 90% of our students receiving free or reduced breakfast and lunch. Despite having a lack of resources and opportunities, our students thrived in their academics. Students were able to overcome difficult home lives in order to succeed. I was blessed to be a part of that. Working in the resource room gave me the freedom to work with a variety of age levels and provide services in the classroom, as well as lead small group instruction for remedial work or enrichment experiences. Working at recess, I soon learned all of the students’ names from early education through 8th grade. I worked with students who had learning disabilities, social-emotional disorders, and many of whom were English language learners. We even had some students who freshly arrived from Korea, for whom communication was particularly challenging.
To top it all off, I had the amazing opportunity to work with a dedicated faculty, staff, and administration who became my mentors, inspiration, and friends. It is truly a vocation and a calling to work as a Catholic school teacher with an underserved population. I was able to make and maintain relationships with my community members, the friars and sisters, the students, the faculty, administration, and staff, and my Pilsen neighbors. This was at the heart of my ministry. I was lucky enough to be hired on as the sixth grade teach four the following four years. Now, my fiancé and I are moving to Orlando, Florida where I hope to be working in the public school system there. St. Pius V School’s motto is “Making a World of Difference” and I truly believe that I was able to do that, one interaction at a time. We never know or will see the ripple effect of our service, but seeing my students grow, mature, learn, and even graduate to go on to outstanding Catholic and public high schools has made the entire experience worth it.
For all alumni, DVUSA staff, communities, and current volunteers, I share with you the Dominican blessing, which was a great source of strength during my community’s volunteer year: May God Creator bless us, May God Redeemer heal us, and May God the Holy Spirit, fill us with light.