James Hannon ’02 – His Open Heart Open Minds

Theology department chair, James Hannon ’02, is a 12 year veteran of the MCHS faculty. In addition to teaching, he has been an assistant coach on the Cross Country team for 11 out of his 12 years here.

Left to Right: Teresa (Bell) ’00, Owen, Eve, and James ’02 Hannon

He married fellow Mariner, Teresa (Bell) Hannon ’00, in 2007, the same year he started teaching at Moreau Catholic. They have two wonderful children, Owen (8) and Eve (5).

He is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California (SMC) where he majored in Integral Liberal Arts and minored in Theology. He holds a master’s degree from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology.

This is James’s first year as department chair, following after Peter Shelley who James calls one of his mentors. He hopes to continue to develop the tradition of open communication, camaraderie, mutual respect, and celebration within his department. Which should be an easy enough job, considering how he already feels about his team: “My colleagues are amazing. My job is just to make sure they feel comfortable and speak with me when they have any issues.”

A dedicated theologian, James’s fascination with his faith began in childhood, and matured as he entered college. He wanted to learn more about Catholicism, and at SMC he was able to critically analyze various Biblical texts allowing him to “grow [his] love for Catholic history.”

He brings this joy of learning into his teaching. His ever present smile and warm demeanor welcome students into a safe space to come to terms with what they do not know. “My ultimate goal for my students is for them to realize that they don’t have all the answers,” he says. He feels that he has done his job well if students leave his room and are “still searching or trying to find answers. Still questioning or trying to understand, or open to understanding.”

James was moved by how “respectful, open, and kind” his teachers were at Moreau Catholic, and that has inspired the way he interacts with students and comports himself around school. He says his biggest challenge as a religious studies educator is “reconciling what’s happening today [in the world] with the faith tradition.”

Our students are lucky to have such caring, thoughtful educators to guide them on their faith journeys. With teachers like James, we know the faith tradition is in good hands.