Alumni Voices | Kyle V. Mullins (Le Moyne `08)
My journey in Jesuit education began as a high-school student, and at the start, I had very little idea what distinguished a Jesuit from the priests I knew from my home parish. Early in my freshman year, my Theology teacher referred to himself and his brother Jesuits as the “Navy SEALs of priests,” ready to go on a moment’s notice and minister wherever and to whomever needs them the most. Eighteen years in Jesuit education later, and now the principal of a Jesuit middle school myself, that description still resonates strongly with me.
During those years, my official titles have included student, teacher, program director, dean, and principal; my unofficial duties have ranged from the conventional, like serving as the chaplain for Kairos retreats, to the unexpected, such as fishing behind bleachers with a bungee cord for a student’s lunchbox, to the never-thought-I’d-be-doing-this-ever, like coaxing a rogue pigeon from the varsity locker room. Maybe not quite the stuff of Navy SEALs, but across different roles and schools, I have seen countless colleagues—both Jesuit and lay—embrace their own versions of the unconventional and unexpected with such an amazing generosity of spirit and deep commitment to living our call to be women and men for others.
And that’s why I am so glad to have made this my career. In our schools, building curricula and programs around students’ needs and differentiating them to meet each student where they are intellectually, spiritually, and personally is not just the latest trend. As Ignatian educators, this cura personalis is the foundation of everything that we do, the reason why we come in early, stay late, fish for lunchboxes, shoo pigeons, and the like; every day, my colleagues and I throughout the Jesuit Schools’ Network seek to see the authentic selves our students are striving to become and, through our interactions with them, help them to become those people.
That guiding principle always takes on a special significance as we prepare for a new school year, which I am in the midst of doing as I sit down to write this reflection. The closer we get to our students returning to the building, the more the excitement builds to see the fruits of their time this summer with family and friends, to see them growing into the people that will take the graces of their Jesuit education and be a force for good in the world. This time of year, in other words, is always a poignant reminder of just how much we are “prophets of a future not our own,” of how our work is always in progress and never complete.
Not unlike a Jesuit’s vocation to the priesthood, our work as Ignatian educators is a call, a call to build God’s Kingdom in the hearts and minds of our students, to show them how deeply they are loved and how infinite the possibilities are for them to go forth and set the world aflame. For all of us who minister as educators, I pray that we are blessed with the clarity of mind and tranquility of heart to gaze upon our students with the same reverence as the priest does the altar.
Kyle Mullins is a proud alumnus of three Jesuit institutions: Regis High School, Le Moyne College, and Boston College. He is currently the principal at Nativity Preparatory School of Boston, a tuition-free, Jesuit middle school serving boys of all faiths from low-income families residing in Boston.