By Berta Mexidor
JACKSON – Christian Brother Theodore “Ted” Dausch calls himself a ‘Yankee brother,’ coming from New York to Mississippi, where he had to adapt his city customs to fields and small towns in the deep South, but with his familiar self-depricating humor and committment to service, he has found joy in his ministry.
For Brother Ted, time has gone by quickly. This July, he celebrated 60 years of religious life
He attended Catholic schools founded and run by Christian Brothers, where he, too, felt called to serve God in religious life. One teacher in particular impressed him with both his teaching style and sense of humor in the classroom. At 18, Brother Ted started teaching. Even his own family was surprised by his decision.
He went to college and after graduation taught at the same school where he studied, Rice School, named after the founder of the Christian Brothers’ congregation, Edmund Rice. Then he served as counselor and school director. Brother Ted says he enjoyed being a teacher.
The order asked him to come to Mississippi to establish a community of brothers in the Diocese of Jackson. Christian Brothers have, as a charism, the education of young people and social justice. Here, he began to teach English as a second language. Soon, the bishop asked him to step into Hispanic Ministry. His Spanish at that time was very basic and he did not feel ready to communicate with Spanish speakers, but he stepped up to the challenge. In his own words, his first task was to have an entire conversation in Spanish!
Little by little, and still learning, he found his mission and the best way to do his job. His daily prayer was “God, let me know what I’m doing and if not, send me some help.” Today he serves with a pair of Guadalupan Missionary Sisters to coordinate Hispanic ministry throughout the diocese. He has been in this position for 20 years.
Brother Ted believes the experience with the Hispanic community has been “… a blessing. I have seen and experienced a completely different view of the world.” At first, his own ignorance helped him, “…to treat everyone equally, without judging anyone.”
While he appreciates the differences between people from different countries, he also values all their various contributions to the church and the community at large.
With his characteristic laugh, he said his favorite aspects of life in the Hispanic community are delicious food, lots of parties and gatherings, and most of all “the beautiful sense of humor and a deep spirituality” the people have.
All Latinos are looking for an opportunity at a better life – many carry with them low self-esteem after suffering terrible experiences in their countries of origin. Here, they receive better opportunities, but also discrimination, skepticism and distrust. Some arrive and never take root. Others are assimilating, accepting changes and enhancing diversity. Many families now on their second and third generations in America, despite the difficulties, are always thanking the country that received them.
Brother Ted believes he has gained much more from his service than he has given and invites those who are not connected to this community to tap into their rich gifts. “Many, even though they are American citizens, feel they must accept incomprehension, but they do not need pity, something must be learned from their experience, they do not need to be saved. They saved my life” said Brother Ted.
“The Hispanic community has not only changed me, I feel blessed to have known them,” he concluded.