Leading With Faith honoree – Joe Seidel

| August 9, 2018 | 0 Comments
Joe Seidel

Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Joe Seidel

Teacher, St. Thomas Academy

Age 58

Parish St. Thomas More, St. Paul

Children Isabella (16)

Volunteer activities Linwood Park and Recreation Center volunteer, Joe Finnegan Memorial Golf Tournament planning committee, Bush Thanksgiving Food Baskets coordinator, Neighborhood House Children’s Christmas Party coordinator, Teens Encounter Christ retreat leader, St. Paul Police chaplain, Community Campaign for Housing Now committee member

Education Speech/communication, University of Minnesota, 1987; M.A. in human development, St. Mary’s University, 1992; M.A. in education learning technology, University of St. Thomas, 1994; law enforcement certificate program, Metropolitan State University, 2005

Number of years with organization 29

A theology teacher at St. Thomas Academy, the all-male middle and high school in Mendota Heights, Joe Seidel has dedicated his life to forming young men by word and example. Striving to give his students an example of servant leadership to follow, Seidel exhibits faith, grace, love and humility in the classroom. He also moderates the Senior Project program, encouraging students to give back in service to their community. Inspired by the witness of his students and fellow teachers, Seidel endeavors to “lead with faith” by being a genuine person.

Q. Describe your school.

A. St. Thomas Academy is an all-male, college preparatory, military/leadership high school.

Q. Describe your position and role.

A. I currently teach 8th grade theology, 12th grade theology, an Introduction to Criminal Justice class for 12th grade (co-ed class shared with neighboring Visitation School), senior service requirement moderator and Senior Project moderator. I also serve on the school’s sacristan/liturgy planning committee.

Q. What does “leading with faith” mean to you?

A. As a theology instructor, I am fortunate to be able to experience my faith each day and share it with my students and coworkers. To me, leading with faith means trying to be a servant leader. In the Gospel of John, Jesus washed the feet of the disciples during the Last Supper. What a deeply profound example of servant leadership! Leaders are called to be examples of faith and integrity, and hopefully inspire others through their actions. Living your faith at work also means being your most genuine self without worrying about how you measure up.

Q. How do you concretely apply your faith and Catholic values at work?

A. The workplace provides a wonderful place to evangelize by example. At STA, the students expect the faculty and staff to instruct with kindness and teach by example. Students are always watching how we handle adversity, doubt, despair and sadness. If they see us respond to difficulty with faith, grace, love and humility, then they have an example of servant leadership to follow.

Q. Please tell a story about a time when living out your faith at work really made a difference.

A. When Scott Patrick, a Mendota Heights police officer, was murdered in 2014, we organized the students and asked them to line Mendota Heights Road and salute as the funeral procession went past. It was the first week of August, and some thought we would only get 50 boys to attend with their Class A uniforms. However, 200 Cadets came to honor Scott Patrick that day. It was amazing. Given the opportunity to serve, to love and respect, young people today will choose to follow Christ if we lead them to moments of truth.

Q. Who or what has inspired you to bring your faith to the marketplace?

A. My fellow teachers and administrators inspire me to live out my faith at STA, and each person does so in a different way. One teacher may stay to tutor until 5 p.m., another teacher may write 25 letters of recommendation over the summer, and a third may tend the grotto garden behind the school. Teaching in a Catholic school is a wonderful vocation and truly allows one to experience others in a unique light each and every day.

Q. What achievement at work are you most proud of?

A. In 1994, two seniors helped us initiate a Senior Projects program. The Senior Project allows our graduating seniors an opportunity to serve 50 hours in the community in the last two weeks of May. They often work in nursing homes, schools, community programs and agencies, and for nonprofit organizations. Today we have 30 agencies that participate, and the senior Cadets have a great time living their faith while saying “thank you” to the community that helped nurture them during their first 18 years of life. One other thing I am very excited about is that I will be helping to chaperone a pilgrimage to the Holy Land next June. It will truly be the experience of a lifetime.

Q. In what specific ways have you experienced God’s presence in your workplace?

A. I experience Christ in the dedication of my coworkers and in the smiles and moments of laughter with the students. I also experience Christ’s presence in our chapel, especially during adoration and reconciliation. As a theology teacher and parent, it melts my heart when the students take time to pray in the chapel or experience reconciliation with our chaplain or visiting priest.

Q. What advice do you have for others who want to lead with faith?

A. My advice to others would be to trust in God’s love for you. Seek his grace. Never be afraid to ask for help. Listen to your heart and his promptings for opportunities to make someone’s life a little better. Always express your faith with your actions first, then your lips.

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Category: Leading With Faith