The Institute for Leadership in Ministry (ILM) celebrated its seventeenth graduation honoring the Class of 2016 on May 4 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph in San Jose. With Bishop Patrick J. McGrath presiding, the graduates gathered with family, friends, parish staffs, alumni and current students for Evening Prayer and to celebrate the completion of the three-year formation program.
The 48 graduates represent 27 of the parishes within the Diocese of San Jose. “They have made a huge commitment and they have enriched the Diocese,” said Bishop McGrath, as he thanked the graduates and also their families for the sacrifices made in service to the church.
According to Linda Cunha-Ricchio, ILM Director, as with other classes, this has been a resilient bunch, who have supported each other through the program and the challenges of life. Starting out as strangers, they built strong friendships and learned about each other’s cultures; a true reflection of the Diocese.
The graduation ceremony featured speakers Michael Shirley and Jordi Jose Vidales who spoke about the call to ministry as a surrender to God’s will. We desire to “be living testimony of faith and belief in God and to be true instruments in the divine plan,” said Vidales. “Let us focus on servant leadership. Christ’s mission is our mission,” urged Shirley. (See Michael Shirley’s reflection below)
What’s next for the ILM graduates? Some are seeking their “next steps.” Some have applied to the Permanent Deacon and Advanced Lay Leader formation programs; others have accepted greater responsibility in parish ministry. Some others are continuing to discern with their pastors where they are most needed.
That need is great. In his closing comments, Bishop McGrath reflected on Vatican II and the importance placed on the role of the laity. He thanked especially his predecessor Bishop DuMaine and Anne Grycz, the first director of the ILM, for founding the Institute and thus forming new lay leaders in the church.
For more information regarding The Institute for Leadership in Ministry, please visit, www.dsj.org/ilm.
Michael Shirley’s Reflection
Do you remember walking into that first class three years ago, and seeing a room filled with new, unfamiliar faces? And now, we have a room full of trusted friends! Many of you have commented about how much you enjoyed our community, and the high caliber of our classes and instructors. And your faith, passion and enthusiasm have truly been an inspiration on many levels!
We all have felt called to this formation, and to become better prepared for ministry. This has, at times, required careful balance of family, friends, work and other responsibilities, and your effort has always been joyful. We obviously have a desire to serve God, and in our ongoing discernment, and in conversation with our pastors and pastoral teams, we will offer ourselves in the service of our communities as ministerial leaders. But what does it mean for each of us to lead?
We often hear that to serve, we need to surrender to God’s will. But that word “surrender” creates an almost automatic and immediate resistance. So how do we truly surrender? After lots of prayers and listening, it would seem that surrender means to relax – just as we relax into our favorite chair and trust it to hold us, to support us – the more deeply we can relax into and receive God’s love, grace, and mercy, the more we allow these to guide us, to flow through us, and out to those around us. And as we allow ourselves to follow this quiet, gentle guidance, we can trust that our service will serve God and benefit our community.
In addition to our desire to serve God, how do we lead in a fashion that inspires others to follow? Let us focus on servant leadership. Christ’s mission is our mission. So that in our loving response to God, we can relax, receive, follow, and by serving, lead as the Holy Spirit guides us.
We would sincerely like to thank Bishop McGrath, our Diocese, and most of all, Linda and her smiling staff for the high caliber of instructors and subject matter they have consistently presented over these past three years, and this amazing opportunity to grow in our faith.
Congratulations class of 2016!!