Teachers and preachers: innovative program aims to help immigrant priests with English

It’s happening in Los Angeles, but I can think of a lot of other corners of the country (including my own) where something like this could reap dividends.

From The Tidings:

The group of nuns and priests sitting around the conference table had been invited to a historic event: an orientation meeting for the “Teachers and Preachers Learning Together” pilot program providing one-on-one elocution help for immigrant priests serving in the archdiocese.

“Congratulations, you are pioneers,” said Louis Velasquez, special projects coordinator for the archdiocese’s Vicar for Clergy’s office, during the Jan. 12 “TAP” meeting held at the Archdiocesan Catholic Center in Los Angeles.

Addressing the group of non-native “preachers” and women religious retired/semi-retired “teachers,” Velasquez noted that the archdiocesan TAP program, which may be the first of its kind in the U.S., grew out of a need to help immigrant priests improve their English pronunciation for American congregations. A total of 18 priests and 18 women religious will participate in TAP’s first session.

“Two years ago, the U.S. bishops said that the issue of pronunciation is the most important pastoral issue dealing with international priests,” said Velasquez.

He pointed out to the priests that, while taking English classes offers generic language instruction, the TAP program “is directly related to your ministry” as each “preacher” meets with his “teacher” for a weekly one-hour session to improve pronunciation during Mass.

Participating priests will email their written homilies no later than Wednesday to their TAP teacher, who will correct for grammatical errors in advance of their in-person or online “Skype” meeting to polish pronunciation.

“The sisters are the best possible teachers,” Velasquez said. “There is not a better ideal, a better combination that we could have come up with.”

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