Mr. Mac Steps into Position of Director of Faith


Haley Golden

“I’m going to trust that the Spirit is going to lead me where I’m needed,” religion teacher Mr. Tom MacLaughlin said.

Haley Golden, Staff Reporter

Following the departure of former religion teacher and Director of Faith Dr. Gary Hortsch last spring, religion teacher Mr. Tom MacLaughlin has taken on the position with hopes of becoming a spiritual mentor and a resource for students and the greater La Salle community.

In 2012, Mr. MacLaughlin, also known as Mr. Mac, first came to La Salle as a substitute teacher and then began teaching full-time in January 2014. However, his religious journey started long before his time at La Salle, having taught religious courses at various churches throughout high school, and then moving on to teach Catholic religious education in the Air Force in 1986. From there, he went on to teach religion at Valley Catholic for five years, starting in 2001.

“So, yeah, it’s been a while,” Mr. Mac said.

After hearing that the Director of Faith position needed to be filled and being asked by other teachers at La Salle if he would apply for it, Mr. Mac was initially hesitant. “I didn’t think it was right for me,” he said. He later decided that he had a lot to offer as Director of Faith, so he applied for the position. 

The school then “fortunately,” Mr. Mac said, asked him to become the new Director of Faith. 

“This gives me an opportunity to bring those gifts, that gift of listening and helping people to discern their paths, to my role,” Mr. Mac said.

Mr. Mac describes the role as “a real privilege,” and sees it as a gateway to being able to see, interact, and engage with more students and staff outside of just a classroom and in new ways. Having the opportunity to become a “spiritual mentor” and encourage others to have a greater feeling of contributing to the spirituality of the school is something he is looking forward to.

Students will play a large role in Mr. Mac’s plans for this year, he said. He plans to work closely with La Salle’s affinity groups, like the Black Student Union, Pride Alliance, and Unidos, to better understand each group’s needs.

“The vision of the students, the wants and needs of the students, [and] the perspectives and the gifts of the students will be able to shine through and shape what we’re doing,” Mr. Mac said.

Additionally, Mr. Mac is looking forward to exploring the varying faith backgrounds at La Salle among students and staff. 

“I’m really excited to expand our understanding of what it means to be in the presence of God,” Mr. Mac said. “Each one of us has our own experience with that, and we can learn from each other and help each other to see the presence of this mystery that many people call God. …Hopefully, we can enhance each other’s experiences.”

Some of Mr. Mac’s new responsibilities include organizing the religious retreats for students and staff members, as well as working with the leadership class to arrange prayer services. He also helps, alongside religious studies teacher Mr. Noah Banks, to coordinate and plan future liturgies at La Salle.

Mr. Mac recognizes his position as a leader and the impact it brings to the community through his position as Director of Faith. “It’s a really humbling position to be in,” he said. “I see that as this privilege and that it comes with a lot of responsibility.”

Excited and ready to take on the new challenge, Mr. Mac has begun with an optimistic and forward-looking attitude.

“I’m already on the journey of this new position, and I’m taking in what’s being offered and letting it work inside me,” Mr. Mac said. “And I’m curious to see what comes with that.”

Correction: May 3, 2023

A previous version of this article stated that Mr. Tom McLaughlin was spelled as “Mr. Tom MacLaughlin.”