L.A. teens put words to feelings

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Wednesday 23, September 2009 | Category:   Clergy
Student with Father
Stan Bosch, S.T.
"What is the purpose of what we do here?" Father Stan Bosch asked the young people sitting around him. "Get stuff out," one 17-year-old said, "so it don't burn inside you." "Beautiful," Bosch said.

Bosch, a Missionary Servant of the Holy Trinity, works at a Soledad Enrichment Action charter school in South Los Angeles, where those who aren't making it in the regular school system get another chance.

A motorcyclist and former college football player, Bosch had been a pastor at a nearby parish where, said a latimes.com story by Scott Gold, "it seemed the entirety of his ministry was trudging from one hospital to the next in the middle of the night, tending to the grieving relatives of dead gangbangers." "I had developed a deep inner sadness," he said. "I just couldn't do it anymore."

If he couldn't do it anymore, he could do something about it. He got a doctorate in psychology, moved into the rectory of a church next to the school, and started working with the students, some of whom use drugs, have committed crimes, are homeless, or come from dysfunctional homes, among other problems. He was convinced many of these kids needed to be able talk about their pain with their peers.

"It's bringing kids together to put words to feelings," he said in an article for The Tidings, the weekly newspaper of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. "It's dealing with what's called 'alexithymia,' in psychodynamic terms, the incapacity to put words to feelings. Many of our kids don't know what they feel, and nobody asks them." No one except Bosch, that is.

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