Los Angeles Union Station // Photo by Kyle Glenn // Unsplash

Visiting the World Issues Class in Portland

Patrick and Nancy share their experience of speaking to high school students in Portland.

I teach a high school class called “World Issues”, but without a lot of care that topic can become highly abstract. In order to prevent that, I try to invite visitors to class whose work directly addresses various issues in the world: homelessness, work, government, etc. I want the students to see that these issues have to do with real life, and that people can respond concretely to them. I have also become very aware of a sort of "ethical exhaustion" in my students – the sense that the world's problems are overwhelming and there is nothing to do about it. This is another reason I wanted to propose to them to meet people who, while not "saving the world", are directly working in ways that improve it.

Nancy and Guido's work with Los Angeles Habilitation House has always been particularly interesting to me, especially the fact that it all seems to begin with human dignity. So, I invited them to come and talk about their experience with my students.

After their visit, the students said that having Nancy and Guido visit was one of the best things we did in the semester. They were struck most by how open and happy they both were, and how their work and their friendship were so intertwined. They also talked afterwards about how refreshing it was to hear about specific people, and not just systems. They left with a sense of hope. I couldn't help but think that they were glimpsing the difference that the encounter with Christ makes.

Patrick, Portland, OR


Last fall, Patrick threw the idea for Guido and I to visit his World Issues class at Trinity Academy in Portland. Preparing for this moment with his students, I thought of the words of Pope Francis to the movement in October of last year:

“Never forget that Galilee of the call, that first Galilee of the encounter. Always return there, to that first Galilee that each one of us has lived. This will give us the strength to always go in obedience in the Church. This is what ‘makes the road beautiful’.”

I wondered if this opportunity with 18 year olds would be for me returning to the first Galilee…and it was.

Patrick warmly welcomed us to the class and we started with questions from the students instead of our presentation. The eyes of the first student who asked a question were shining and I felt a jolt in my heart at her sincerity. I wanted to tell them everything that had happened to me since starting LAHH and give them the best things I have learned. I saw my life and their life intertwining for 50 minutes while we spontaneously went back and forth about life.

The immediacy of the rapport between us and the students and how my heart was thrown open is a sign of the presence of Christ who is at work now, faithful now. I told the students that they can count on their questions being the way a path for life opens and that this path will lead them to an unexpected happiness. Something greater that enters our lives and makes them beautiful. And this is Christ who enters your reality to answer your questions and lead you to Him.

Nancy, Los Angeles, CA