The Narwhal—An Origin Story of the Men's Household

We are always told to look on the bright side. When unfortunate things happen, it’s good to start looking at the positives before we get caught up in negativity. Even in the life of faith we are told to “offer it up,” or we look at The Fall as the “happy fault.” Sometimes, this mentality can go too far. As with anything humorous, when we take things to their necessary extreme, amazing things can come about. There have been mentions of the "Narwhal", the name of the men's living quarters. Well, look no further as this story of its name unfolds.

As Teach for Christ started, it became necessary to look for housing for the educators, both male and female. The Brothers of Pro Ecclesia Sancta graciously offered up their home to be used by the men. They knew that the basement of their new house could be refurbished to hold all the men for the first year of the program, so renovations began. The old pool table was taken out, while beds, a bathroom, and walls were put up to create a small studio apartment from a space formerly used as a sprawling recreational room. However, Chairman Richard Vigilante saw a potential issue—that new educators may have a negative opinion of living in a basement.

To counteract this inevitable impression, he came up with a new way to describe the luxurious living space. He started to call the space, as any artist of words would, by its exact definition: The Newly Renovated, Well Lit, Lower Level. During the first week of training, when the men asked where they would be living this year, Richard answered quite simply that they would be staying in the basement of the brother’s house. Of course Richard would not have this word dwell on their minds for too long, so he would quickly correct them (and himself) whenever possible by stating, “No, it is the Newly Renovated, Well Lit, Lower Level.”

Soon, everyone had heard this phrasing often enough that they were all calling it the Newly Renovated, Well Lit, Lower Level. In a matter of a few days, it became one of the first inside jokes of Teach for Christ. It was not until the housewarming party for Frassati House, the female educator’s abode, that there came a change to the name. One of the educators, after hearing the ridiculously long phrase, pointed out that it was quite a mouthful to keep calling the men’s living quarters the Newly Renovated, Well Lit, Lower Level. So, as all aspiring teachers do, we decided to start looking for ways to shorten the phrase, and the first way in doing so was to look for the perfect acronym. Educator Lucas Berke was the first to point out that the beginning letters of each word, N.R.W.L.L.L., looked like the word Narwhal! From that point on it was not only encouraged, but demanded, that the men’s space would now be referred to as the Narwhal.

So there you have it. The Narwhal was named by taking something that could be perceived as less than ideal, and made into a unique identifier for our men’s community. I know our men’s community has flourished because each of us came in as less than ideal, and by God’s grace and the strength He has given our bonds of brotherhood, lifted us to be men who strive to serve Christ and His Church each day. It’s been a special blessing to spend this year in this community—and to be able to live in the belly of the unicorn of the sea—The Narwhal.

Kendra Posch