Veteran theology teacher prepares to retire

Mr. Jensen’s plans include travel, visits with grandchildren

Theology teacher Mr. Ken Jensen, who came to campus 17 years ago with an extensive background in academics and religious life, has said that he will retire at the end of this school year.

Angel Luo

Theology teacher Mr. Ken Jensen, who came to campus 17 years ago with an extensive background in academics and religious life, has said that he will retire at the end of this school year.

Angel Luo, Reporter

When 286 seniors leave campus for the last time in May, at least one teacher will leave with them. Mr. Ken Jensen, one of the members of the theology department, will retire at the end of this school year after spending 17 years on the Hill. 

Until his early 50s, Jensen served as a priest and bishop for a number of mission churches, spanning three countries and two continents, that became part of both the Orthodox Church in America and the Antiochene Orthodox Church.  

On completing that work, Jensen retired and became a member of the Catholic Church in 2001. He is a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church Downtown and serves as a teaching member of the catechetical team and of course he also became a theology teacher here as well.  

Jensen says that he has taught a variety of subjects at every grade level over the years, except for sophomores.

When asked what grade level he prefers teaching, he paused for a brief moment and then said that he favors the Junior Class, because they seem to be the most focused academically. 

He said, “I don’t mean that I don’t like seniors (which he presently teaches), I do; but too many of them seem to check out mentally from school before the end of their senior year. The juniors I have always had for a full two semesters. I find that more satisfying as a teacher. Plus, juniors are beginning to think more abstractly and can begin to piece their worldview together with some maturity. I like to teach during that life process.”

After retirement, Jensen plans to pursue his many hobbies and to continue traveling, especially on his motorcycle. 

He also said he plans to spend more time with his grandchildren and great grandchildren who are scattered around the country. He and his wife, Kathy, have five daughters who have produced nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

When discussing his memories of teaching here, Jensen said that he misses the old schedule, since the new one has greatly reduced the number of opportunities to teach each day, and that is his true passion.

He is also both glad and surprised that he has made so many lifelong connections with past students. He shared the fact that he still frequently communicates with more than two dozen of his former students through email. 

He said, “Some of them graduated over 10 years ago, but they still want to ask questions about the Scriptures, theology, how to talk to the non-Catholic person that they are dating about their faith.”

In the classroom, Jensen said he believes that the most satisfying aspect of being a teacher has involved those moments “when a student asks a question that is both abstract and philosophical, and perhaps for the first time they are seeing how reality might be put together, and the significance of how things all connect together in this creation that we inhabit together with so many others.”

He hopes students who are learning theology do not only work for a good grade, but that they also have the passion necessary to discern and want to discuss the big questions and possible answers that are supplied by reasoning through the Church’s faith. 

Jensen said he believes he has a lot of life experience to bring to the students for consideration.

Jensen said he somewhat views himself as a “graduating senior” this year.  He wants to stay on task, however, and finish his job in the proper way — not allowing senioritis to get the best of him. 

He offers this advice for future theology students: “There are very few disciplines in high school that will actually allow you to think hard about the world, yourself, and why all things exist in the relationships that they do. Theology, like philosophy, requires a lot of abstract conceptual thinking, which is very useful in the whole of life. 

“Take advantage of your opportunity, especially in this supportive and helpful environment.”