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    A Year of Faith

    (Excerpt from remarks by Lalanne Director, Jacinta Mergler, at the conclusion of the summer program dinner on August 3, 2012)

    “the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with Him. The ‘door of faith’ is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and His Church.”

    The month of October 2011 was a very busy time in the Lalanne office. Peggy Brun, Coordinator of Lalanne, was recruiting on college campuses, I was continuing conversations with the Diocese of Lansing in anticipation of two new communities, and both of us were visiting Lalanne teachers in their classrooms. At the time, neither of us were thinking about the Pope’s apostolic letter, but looking back on the Lalanne events of the past year I can see God’s grace at work because it was surely a Year of Faith!

    Lalanne had undergone some changes and we were unsure of the impact. We were no longer going to participate in Ameri- Corps, we were operating under a new strategic plan that encouraged us to work with smaller dioceses and establish new Lalanne communities, and we were recruiting with a newly created website designed to meet our needs. Would we get any applications? If so, would the applicants be strong candidates for Lalanne? We prayed. We prayed a lot, and God answered. By the February deadline we had 47 applications on file, the largest number of applications to Lalanne in the program’s history.

    Also by February, many principals with whom we already have a relationship were calling with openings for teaching positions during the 2012-2013 academic year. Several new principals called to inquire about working with Lalanne because of our reputation and their desire to become a Lalanne partner school. A record 12 vacant teaching positions were presented to us.

    During March we held six full days of interviews. The interview teams consisted of principals from elementary and high schools that we already partner with, principals from Lansing, and the assistant superintendent from the Archdiocese of Lansing who represented Lansing and Flint, the two new cities we would soon be serving. The interviews produced 32 candidates that we felt would make strong teachers and be a great fit for the Lalanne program. It took from late March to early June to match teachers with available positions. Again, we were amazed at God’s grace as everything fell into place. We had placed a record 21 new teachers into 6 communities, the largest incoming group of first-year teachers in the history of the program. With our eight returning teachers, this fall we will be 29 teachers strong serving 25 different schools in 4 Catholic dioceses.

    As this year of faith continues and the Lalanne teachers move into their service cities and schools, I pray that they will discover more opportunities to walk through doors of faith to encounter Jesus and share His love with everyone they meet.