By Joanna Thurmann
“When we think of being a saint, we often think of statues and icons. But you are signs of God’s love in our world through your lives and actions,” said Monsignor Francis V. Cilia, addressing the thirty-nine young recipients of the “Saints in the City” award at a recognition banquet and keynote presentation held at Saint Lawrence Parish on November 10. One recipient was selected from each Catholic school or parish in the Diocese of San Jose.
Father Joe Kim, Director for Vocations and Seminarians at the Diocese of San Jose and a host of the evening, introduced the four areas of Christian discipleship exemplified by the holy ones of the young church.
Honorees of the Saint Maria Goretti Award were ones who have given themselves freely in service for their neighbor; willing, determined, and passionate about being and bringing Christ to the lost, least, and last. Recipients of Saint Teresa of Avila Award were those who embraced the breadth and depth of Catholic spirituality, and longed to attain the greatest heights of holiness. The longest list of honorees earned the Saint Francis of Assisi Award by joyfully witnessing to the Gospel and fearlessly evangelizing their communities. Meanwhile, the Saint Thomas Aquinas Award highlighted respect for the richness of our tradition and those students eager to share it with the universal church.
The final honoree was one who demonstrated qualities that make a young disciple effective in the world today; someone grounded in humility and exuding the depths of faith, hope, and charity in his life’s work. Woo Hyuk Chang, of the Holy Korean Martyrs, received this award entitled Kecharitomene, meaning “full of grace” in the original Greek.
“We remember all the saints in November, and we remember that there are still more saints among us today,” said Father Kim. “The Kingdom of God really means looking within ourselves. Saints are models in our hurting world. They are active disciples of Jesus, servants who put all their knowledge, gifts, service, and faith especially at the service of the poor. Quoting Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, Cilia added, “every gift you receive from God is on its way to someone else.”
A parent testimony from Luis and Anabella Estrada highlighted the key role of parents in raising children to become disciples. It means going to “Misa” (Mass) and immersing yourself and others in Jesus and His tender love. Most importantly, “to raise a disciple means you have to be a disciple yourself,” said Anabella Estrada, whose three children are all actively involved in various faith communities and one of whom was an award recipient.
The Estrada testimony was especially fitting since the dinner was followed by a keynote presentation by Michele Borba, entitled “Saints in Our House: How Parents and Teens Connect.”
While the real award lies for all of us in heaven, stressed Monsignor Cilia at the end of the dinner, each of us can choose to live like a saint every day.