Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, advised the young teachers sitting before him to pay special attention to each of the students in the classes that they are about to take charge. “The lesson plan is important,” he said, “but your role in their lives is bigger than that.”
Mahony was addressing the 18th cohort of LMU’s PLACE Corps, the Catholic teacher-training program of the School of Education, which had gathered with hundreds of family members and friends at Sacred Heart Chapel on July 26, 2018, for the commissioning. Mahony, who celebrated the special Mass with LMU Chancellor Robert Walsh, S.J., directed the homily at the teachers beginning their two-year teaching-service commitments: “Go from here with the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit,” Mahony said, “and use the insights and intuitions of the Holy Spirit” to educate students.
Mahony, who has been a supporter of the program since its beginning, welcomed the crowd by acknowledging the founder of the PLACE Corps, Vice Chancellor Albert Koppes, O. Carm., who was in attendance. Members of PLACE – Partners in Los Angeles Catholic Education – earn a master’s degree and teaching credential while serving as full-time teachers in primarily under-resourced Catholic schools in the Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino dioceses. As a general rule, candidates are enrolled in two three-unit graduate courses each semester for the two-year period, along with an additional field-experience class during fall and spring semesters. It is part of the University Consortium for Catholic Education.
The 18th cohort has 34 members, the largest yet, who come from public and private universities across the country. Each cohort makes a commitment to the three pillars of the program: professional development; intentional community, by living together in one of eight convents; and Ignatian spirituality.
Mahony said PLACE Corps teachers have an especially important role in the lives of the students they will be educating. He noted that the cohort is young – “this is valuable because the students will relate to you easily,” he said – and that the students frequently come from challenging situations. “Do a lot of listening,” Mahony said. And he emphasized that the teachers will encounter many students for whom the ever-present threats to immigrants are daily realities. “Don’t be afraid to address their fears,” Mahony advised. “Let them talk about it.”
The commissioning Mass concluded with the hymn, “Go Out, Go Out,” echoing the emotion of the day.