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ILM Graduates Stretch the Spiritual Muscle of the Church


By Joanna Thurmann

“You are the life blood that gives the church its life,” said Bishop Oscar Cantú on May 8, during an evening prayer celebrating the 20th graduating class of the Institute for Leadership in Ministry (ILM). “Over the past three years, you have been stretching yourselves to receive an influx of the oxygen that sustains the Church.”

Bishop Cantú was addressing the forty-five graduates from twenty-one parishes who were honored during the graduation liturgy for their successful completion of the three-year formation program, which includes classes in scripture, sacraments, ecclesiology, theology, and spirituality.

Bishop Cantú referenced the life of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux in his homily on the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians about the variety of spiritual gifts. Saint Thérèse struggled to see where she fit among the church ministries of her time but when she reflected on Saint Paul’s description of the church as a mystical body, she understood her place. “She felt the lightning rod,” said Bishop Cantú. “I will be the heart of the body of Christ. Through my prayer and sacrifices, I will send my heart of love.”

Continuing the theme, the bishop emphasized the need for continual stretching and exercise to keep the oxygen flowing and the body healthy and vital. “The purpose of the ILM is to give the oxygen that the body needs,” he said. Like stretching and exercise for the physical body, we need to stretch and exercise our spiritual muscle to keep the church vibrant. “I stretch all the time and look how tall I am,” he joked.

He also hoped that the students, in having received a treasure trove of teaching, won’t forget that it is God who reveals Himself in all that they have learned. “God is in that treasure, in one another, in the people of this earth,” said Bishop Cantú.

Alejandra Maldonado of Christ the King and Victor Marmol of Saint Athanasius resoundingly answered the bishop’s hopes. Speaking on behalf of their fellow graduates, they gave reflections emphasizing ILM’s impact on their personal and pastoral lives and their gratitude for having participated. Marmol echoed Bishop Cantú saying, “Our minds were opened, our spirits set on fire, and our prayer lives exercised like one would any muscle.” He also remarked that diversity is one of the greatest assets of the ILM experience. In her Spanish reflection, Maldonado said, “Success consists in trusting in you, Lord, being grateful to God, and keeping in mind that nothing is impossible. Although we still have a way to go, we will apply what we have learned. We trust and give to God our weakness so it may become the force we need to serve.”

Bishop Cantú, now the third bishop of San Jose, also recognized and thanked Irma G. Alarcon De Rangel as the third director of the ILM, following Anne Grycz and Linda Cunha-Ricchio, the Institute’s faculty, and the pastors who called forth and supported the students. In turn, class representatives thanked the ILM with a donation of $2,800 to continue its scholarship fund.

At the end of the presentation of certificates, Father John Hurley also recognized Rose Lue of Saint Simon Parish for her completion of the Advanced Lay Leadership Formation Program, which is concurrent with the diocesan deacon formation program. Both programs entail an additional four years of preparation after the ILM, including classes in the Pastoral Ministries Graduate Program at Santa Clara University and Saturday sessions at the Chancery, and yearly retreats. Lue’s completion is followed by the ordination of three new deacons on May 18. Lue said, “I feel blessed for this opportunity. I had entered the convent at one point in my life and then discerned out and became a wife and mother instead. But the call to serve God and God’s people always remained.  So I am very grateful that our Diocese is enabling, equipping, empowering, and encouraging the laity to fully live out their vocation as baptized people of God.”

While Saint Thérèse discerned herself to be the heart of the Church, Lue and this year’s graduates of the Institute are its hands and feet in the myriad of pastoral ministries they serve. Together in the communion of saints, they keep the oxygen flowing through the veins of the Mystical Body of Christ.

Congratulations ILM Graduates

Christ The King
Rocio Boror
Alejandra Maldonado

Holy Spirit
Elizabeth Cabral
Laura Smith

Most Holy Trinity
Jesus De la Cerda
Joseph Ngo
Justin Van
Dinh Vu

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Adriana Heredia
Lidia Ruiz
Jennifer Sepulveda

Our Lady of Refuge
María Luisa Camacho
Arturo Reyes

Queen of Apostles
Paul Dominic

Sacred Heart of Jesus
Luis Bautista
Alfonso Gutierrez
Rosemary Romo

St. Anthony
Katrina Healy
Jess Votaw
Katrina Votaw

St. Athanasius
Carlos Garcia
Victor Marmol
Gabriel Torres Muñoz

St. Elizabeth
Khai Phan
Martha Sedano
María Terron
Diane Wollants-Bayona

St. Francis of Assisi
Hung Vu

St. John the Baptist
Ulysis Suaverdez

St. John Vianney
Salvador Heredia
Yusara Millan
Enrique Rizo
Simone Williams

St. Julie Billiart
Claus Dahm

St. Justin
Ruben Garcia

St. Lucy
Rebeca Corona
Regina de Portillo
Ruth Medrano
Bach Nguyen

St. Martin
Luis Apen

St. Mary, Gilroy
María Álvarez-García
Mary Ellen Rocha

St. Mary, Los Gatos
Richard  DiNapoli

St. Simon
Marti Guidoux

St. Thomas Aquinas
Griselda Morales