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What is the Institute for Leadership in Ministry?

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By Joanna Thurmann

Since its beginnings in 1998, the Institute for Leadership in Ministry (ILM) has endeavored to form passionate disciples in the Diocese of San José.

That work has borne abundant fruit. Over 1,000 have graduated from the Institute since then. Through classes in scripture, church history, sacraments, spirituality, Catholic Social Teaching, and more, the ILM prepared them to become more effective ministers in the variety of lay leadership roles they serve in their parishes, schools, and communities.

At the end of each academic year, graduates express their heartfelt gratitude not only for the knowledge they have acquired, but also for the love they have shared and the renewed passion they have felt to work alongside each other in the vineyard. We share the stories of two graduates, on how the ILM has shaped their ministry since completing the program.

We are now accepting applications for the fall and encourage you to consider the program. For additional information visit, www.dsj.org/ilm or call (408) 983-0110.


By Paul Dominic, Class of 2019

Since immigrating to the U.S. and being a good Sunday Christian and doing pretty much nothing else, I was pulled into becoming an active participant in the parish Community Service Ministry, Saint Vincent de Paul, parish council, school council, eucharistic minister, small prayer group leader and Cursillista. I’ve generally been a busybody with lots of questions and not many answers.

After resisting 7 years of invitations from my parish priest (mostly Father Michael Carson), largely because I did not know what it took to do the ILM course, I finally decided to jump into the course in 2016 after being asked by Father Thuc Si Ho just once. At every step of moving from someone uninterested in the Catholic community to feeling connected to it, I made a conscious decision, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to step-up and do something.

The San José Diocese’s 3-year formation program, the Institute for Leadership in Ministry, was one of the best things that happened to me, both on a personal and spiritual level. The surprising amount of knowledge imparted by lay people who were highly qualified kept me grounded and excited. The friends and network that we created for ourselves to support each other was amazing and still is, even after completion. The depth of spirituality among my classmates was a constant source of strength.

The foremost question that I am always asked about the ILM is – “Was it difficult to study?” This question, I could not understand completely (perhaps it is my immigrant background). For me, any worthwhile achievement is a little difficult; everything difficult becomes easy with prayer and faith. If you trust, this is the easiest course in the world, and the best part is the ILM team and the course content makes it happen – all you need to do is listen. And my journey continues… Amen.


By Claus Dahm, Class of 2019

The Institute for Leadership in Ministry (ILM) has been a tremendous boost for me, spiritually, intellectually and pastorally. I am able to apply what I have learned in my primary ministry, RCIA. In addition, the ILM has given me a deeper understanding of my faith and a stronger faith vocabulary.  I am able to better articulate my faith and Catholic teachings.