Dear Dr. and Mrs. Carroll, fellow alumni, family, and friends of Seton,
It is with much affection, sincere gratitude, and many fond memories that I greet you all in Christ. I am Beth Van de Voorde, alumna of the class of 2006, and am now a lay consecrated woman of Regnum Christi. I have consecrated my life completely to God in order to serve the Church through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience and through a life of apostolic work.
I feel like the three years since my graduation from Seton and my consecration have flown by. Next year will be my last year of study, and then I’ll go out to work in the full time apostolate. But in these many months of prayer, study, and work, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on how God has worked in my life, leading me to my vocation. I have found a deeper happiness than I could have imagined, and I often ask myself, who am I to be here?
I’ve realized that I am not here because because I “deserve” it, but because Christ has wanted me to experience his love so I can give it to the world, which so needs his mercy. It’s a gift and a great responsibility.
I often look back to the “steps” God took in bringing me to the consecrated life, and I’ve realized that my vocation cannot be separated from my years at Seton. “Seton life”–the testimony of teachers and fellow students, the Eucharistic Life, the friendships, and the formation–these are some of the many seeds God planted in my heart.
Through this letter, I want, above all, to express my gratitude to Mrs. Carroll and all the family and friends of Seton, and to share how Seton School has helped me to discover and follow God’s path in my life.
I think my favorite memory of Seton is the little chapel. I have countless memories of spending study halls there–praying a Rosary, writing in “letters” to Christ, studying, sleeping (senior year often did that to me!), just being with him. Late nights after basketball games, play practices, band and choir concerts–when I close my eyes, I can still hear the stillness of the empty hallways; I can sense the solitude of the dark, empty chapel, empty of other people, I mean; the red sanctuary candle always told me he was there. I would kneel down, only a foot or two away from the altar and whisper, Hello, Jesus, it’s me. I realize now that the silence and intimacy of those moments with Christ were instrumental in opening my heart to his call.
I thank you, Seton, for teaching me this Eucharistic life; the Wednesday Eucharistic Hours, the weekly Masses, the Corpus Christi Procession, the consecration to the Sacred Heart; the reverence of the altar servers, the Sacristans, the genuflections and bows. At the time, I absorbed these things without realizing what it all meant, what a gift it was. But now, I see how much the world needs this, and how few understand this gift, and I am grateful.
Another thing Seton taught me was a living, trusting faith. God has asked sacrifices from countless Seton families in the past years. Perhaps it’s because he knows you have the strength of faith to unite your suffering with his.
I don’t remember ever going to a funeral before 8th grade, when Chris Marshall and Steven Bailey passed away. But the faith and interior strength of their families, in the midst of a suffering I cannot begin to imagine, impressed me deeply. It was an “osmosis-experience;” at the time, I couldn’t put it into words, but now I see that the witness to hope of so many families strengthened me in being able to say yes to God’s call.
God has filled my life with countless gifts and blessings; I feel I have suffered very little. But when God asked me to leave my home and my family to dedicate myself totally to him and the souls I will look after, part of me balked at the idea. “You mean I have to give up all my dreams, my plans?”
But by the grace of God and from what I have learned from each of you–and continue to learn–I was able to say yes without ever looking back. Of course it hasn’t been easy. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of my family and miss them. But I know that this life is so short, and that one day, one day very soon, this life will have ended, and we will have all of eternity to share those sorrows and joys. With faith, I know that it’s all worth it. God is faithful–and this, I have learned from the testimony of Seton families.
And finally, I want to thank you, Mrs. Carroll, and all the teachers at Seton, for the treasures of formation that you have given to us students. At the time, we complain, we ask what’s going to be on the test, so we can study only that, we cram and we quickly forget so much. But above all the grammar lessons and Latin verbs, the biology diagrams and world culture projects, we remember the love for the faith, the Church, and Christ that radiates from your teaching and your testimony of life. This is the treasure which Seton has to give to the world today.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all. I promise you a place in my daily prayers; daily I always ask Our Lord to bless and help the Seton Community. There’s a saying that goes, “I’ll see you in the Eucharist,” and I think it applies very well here. We are all part of the same Church, the same family, striving for holiness and to do God’s Will. The source of strength is, above all, in the Eucharist; so, united there, I remain yours affectionately in Christ,
Beth Van de Voorde