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Billiken Teacher Corps Hopes for a Blessed Beginning to the Start of School


Members of the Billiken Teacher Corps -- which combines graduate studies, classroom teaching and an intentional faith community -- came together earlier this month to travel to their new classrooms in local Catholic grade and high schools to receive blessings in anticipation of the new school year.

Billiken Teacher Corps Blessing

Billiken Teacher Corps had their classrooms blessed as they awaited the start of the new school year. Submitted photo

The corps' 13 members gathered with Ronny O'Dwyer, S.J. earlier this month to pile into a 15-passenger van for a journey around the St. Louis area so that each corps member's classroom could be blessed.

"A blessing is not an attempt on our part to change God, but a graced moment which opens us up to being changed by God," O'Dwyer, the director of the corps, said. "In this context using Holy Water is a sign of our baptism, the moment we received our vocation to be the compassion of Christ in the world. And blessing our classrooms with Holy Water reminds us that God is found in ordinary actions of compassionate service to those in our midst."

The Billiken Teacher Corps (BTC) combines graduate studies, classroom teaching and an intentional faith community to prepare SLU students to be leaders who serve in under-resourced Catholic schools. BTC teaching fellows receive a Master of Teaching Arts degree and teaching certification with full tuition remission. The corps' first cohort graduated in May 2017 and all six of its members will be staying in Catholic education, with one member, Jenny Bruns, teaching in a high school in Chuuk, Micronesia.

"Classroom blessings are honestly one of my most favorite things that we do as a community," Owen Dabek, a corps member who teaches middle school science at Trinity Catholic School.

School principals as at the students' teaching sites were on hand to greet them and to join in the classroom prayers.

"Community is one of the pillars of our experience; the opportunity to step inside the classrooms of my friends and fellow teachers has only strengthened the bonds we already share together and shows the dedication and love that all of them have for their students and schools," student Andrew Diemer said.

Background information provided by Ronny O'Dwyer, S.J.