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Leading with Zeal in a Promising New School Year

Monday, September 19, 2016


The Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program prepares transformational school leaders who make God known, loved, and served. As the school year begins, Melodie Wyttenbach, Ph.D., a faculty member in the program, reflects on the need for each of us to bring zeal to our work.

I feel blessed to be able to write this reflection on a disposition that the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., believed to be the primary apostolic quality.

Simply described, zeal is a hunger for mission, a passion to continue what Jesus began through his life, teaching, and example. As embedded in the stone found on ACE’s building, "Zeal is that flame of burning desire which one feels to make God known, loved, and served.” 

When we see ourselves as Christ-like, when we put our beliefs into action, zeal ends in love.

Moreau wrote, “Our zeal is always guided by charity, everything is done with strength and gentleness: strength because we are courageous and unshakable in the midst of pain, difficulty and trials…and gentleness because we have the tenderness of our Divine Model” (Christian Education). Zeal is that grace through which we take our beliefs and translate them into the actions of our hands, and do so with an end towards love of others. As each of us has been called into the beautiful vocation of Catholic education, zeal ignites our faith and our belief that every child and adult will learn. The new school year holds so much promise for us to ignite this belief in those we serve and with whom we serve. 

It is our service, our work, that is rooted in zeal. We know that the days of an educator require much energy, effort, and many hours. This tirelessness is zeal. We know that leading requires us to wear many hats, to engage many people in decision-making, to be a world builder, to have courageous conversations. Zeal is in the doing. As the needs of our students and colleagues change, we have to recognize the talents God has given us to flexibly meet those needs. Zeal is knowing that you are the living embodiment of Christ. In the words of St. Teresa of Avila:

“Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

When we see ourselves as Christ-like, when we put our beliefs into action, zeal ends in love. This academic year, as we strive to be genuinely zealous apostles, may your efforts in our shared mission begin in faith, may you have the courage and strength to do the work that needs to be done, and may all your actions end in love. Lead with zeal.