As summer approached, I was asked to teach full time this year. I didn’t want to do it—after all I am retired. But when I was offered part time again—four classes first semester and three second—I was happily agreed.
So in August I rejoined the staff of St. Ignatius
Each senior leader counsels five freshmen. Before opening day they had called all of their charges to wish them good luck and tell them they would see them. Once a week during homeroom, they now come and talk with the kids to see how things are going. This will be for the entire year. My freshmen seem happy to work with them.
Friday we had our first Ignatian Value Day. These are four days set aside each year to deal with issues of social change, growth and justice. Our theme was “Being Open to Change.”
The day started with an all-school Mass. Students were released according to their class. My freshmen came in at the end… and were greeted at the front door of the church by the President of the School and other administrators. Inside, all the students were applauding and cheering as my students walked down the center aisle and sat in the center pews. What a powerful message of welcome.
I should point out that St. Ignatius students worship at Holy Family Church, which is beside the school. The Church, one of the most beautiful in the city of Chicago, was originally constructed in 1857-1860 under the supervision of Fr. Damon, a Jesuit priest. Additions to the original church in 1862 and 1866 enlarged it to its present impressive size. Surviving both the fire of the 1870s, changing neighborhoods, and threats of demolition in the 1980s, the present church is both inspiring and awesome.
As the Mass began, near the front of the procession, four students carried 7 foot banners -- two in maroon and two in gold bearing the legends ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11—which were placed on the altar. Seeing the church packed with some 1300 students singing and worshipping was a great boost.
After a powerful speech by one of the teachers regarding his views about being open to change, the last part of the day was spent reflecting on the message. My freshmen set goals of ways to make change in class more positive. They will in the next two weeks try to get to know three people in class they don’t know right now. It’s small steps, but after the sense of inclusion they’ve experienced, I know they can build their own community of trust.