On Sunday October 27, 2019 I received a text message from Angel Delallana informing me that her flight had just landed at Tucson International Airport. That meant it was time to pack my family in the car and head off to pick up my partner in Humana Corpus Dignitate as we were going to spend some time with her that day before her and I would spend that evening finalizing different parts of the presentation we were going to share at my job the following day. That presentation was titled The Mindful Life and we were going to share this talk on Mental Health in Adolescents for the junior and senior theology classes at Saint Augustine Catholic High School here in Tucson, AZ.
Two weeks prior we were in Carson, CA, the town of my upbringing as well as Angel's hometown as we presented an Introduction to the Theology of the Body to both middle school students and Confirmation candidates. Now Angel was coming to what had now been my home for the past thirteen years with both of being excited to have the opportunity to . We were both really excited because this was our second time working together in the past two weeks and that's a lot considering the fact that we both work and are raising families in separate states!
On a personal note it also gave Angel a chance to see members of my family for the first time in over ten years. The last time she saw my wife and kids was at a local eatery during one of our trips back to Carson. Now she would see my family after years of growth and change. My wife was now a K-8 school principal with my kids now being in both high school and middle school. I was really looking forward to this because I have had a chance to spend some time with her family on multiple trips to CA earlier this year so I wanted her to have the same opportunity once she found her way to my neck of the woods.
We started our time together showing her both the St. Augustine Cathedral as well as the San Xavier de Bac Mission, which gave her a chance to see some of the history of the Catholic Church in Tucson while the two of us took the time to take some pictures at some beautiful spots. We then spent some time having a late lunch in order to catch up on things before we all went back to my house for some rest and relaxation. Later that evening Angel and I worked on some last moment preparations for the following day before turning our attention to some other things that we had been working on a few weeks prior to her.
The following day Angel joined my kids and myself on our morning drive to school as she got a taste of my morning commute. We arrived to St. A's, met some of the staff and then checked her in. Then it was time to get to work. Most of the presentations took place in my classroom and it was non-stop for six straight periods. The students were very receptive to the material, even when it got a little heavy because they are used to my teaching style. I say that because I saw more than ever how similar Angel and I are when it comes to delivering the material. We are both willing to go there while also allowing students to ask questions with the intention of giving them a solid answer. In our case, Angel dug deep on issues from bullying to suicide with my jumping in later to speak both of how Christians should be handling those who are suffering from mental illness while showing both the progress that the Church has made along with how much more we have to do. (Short excerpt of The Mindful Life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXVhm4KNkeE&t=3s)
To be honest, I could see a big difference from two weeks ago. First off, we took a critical eye at our presentation back in CA within days of me returning home and made whatever changes needed to be made. Second, we were both even more comfortable working together and as the day went on we could feel the improvement of both our flow as well as our interactions. Even then we still made a few changes between presentations as both of us are more or less never done when it comes to the things that we create as we always seem to find a way to make it better.
We ended the day heading back to my place in order to have dinner with my wife before we spent some time interviewing her for a future podcast that we're currently putting together in order to expand our audience. We felt that it went really well and look forward to releasing it some time soon. Aside from that we also let her watch a video of one of our presentations in order to get her feedback since she is a principal whose job is to observe teachers from time to time. She had some great insights to offer, which we took note of in order to make even more improvements to our joint presentation.
Once everything we finished Angel called home with my wife and I having a chance to video chat with her boys. I was really moved by the way they spoke to me as I always enjoyed their company. Aside from that, I had a chance to see them interact with my wife as she finally got a chance to see how cute and funny they are. Angel and I are both looking forward to the moment when we can finally spend some time with our families together with members of our families feeling the same way.
On a very personal note I can say that I am very satisfied with the start of actually working with a partner on such an endeavor. This is something I thought I would never do because I am not one who likes to work with others on important projects due to so many past disappointments. In most cases I would rather fail on my own rather than have my success and progress depend on the efforts of others. Taking on this task with Angel has actually been rather eye opening to say the least and it's more than just the leap of faith I took once we saw the potential in what we could do together.
For years I have seen her passion for her nursing profession but was always impressed with how she saw her work as a duty to both her patients as well as their families while never forgetting that these were also God's children who deserved to be treated with dignity and respect. Aside from that, her faith was something that inspired me as she always wanted others to see the life they could really live if they were just willing to open themselves to God's grace. That and the passion she had to share this faith others while she was in the midst of work and raising a family.
Once I saw that I was really excited to move forward with HCD as I saw someone whose drive was similar to mine who really goes after things once she sets her mind to it. Aside from that, she is someone who will really push me when it comes to both pulling my weight and in the constant task of having to update and improve all that I do for this ministry. She is very honest yet supportive with the way she offers her observations and suggestions so I know that any insight she has to offer is with the intention of helping this ministry move forward while also believing in what we stand for as her behavior towards me totally reflects our philosophy as a ministry.
In her I have found a true partner and I am grateful to be on this journey with her. And right off the bat we already know that we are not alone as we already have the support of our families as well as those who have graciously kept us in their prayers.
BA & MA in Religious Studies from Cal State Long Beach
Certified through the Theology of the Body Institute
Co-founder of Humana Corpus Dignitate