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By Hani Ajus,
First-year ILM student

I have gratitude for many reasons. In this article, I focus on my experience from the Institute for Leadership in Ministry (ILM) program.  Saint Paul always gives thanks to God first (Rom 1:8, 1 Cor 1:4, 2 Cor 1:3, Phil 1:3, Col 1:3, etc.), and then he reminds us that our gratitude is due to God  “giving thanks to the father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light…”(Col 1:12-14).  My first thanks and gratitude is due to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  My second gratitude is due to everyone I meet and know, whom God presented to me.  My third gratitude is due to all the creation of God, such as animals and nature.

The first class of the ILM was Encountering Christ, by Sister Patricia Galli. Suzan Young was my spiritual supervisor. In this class, I found gratitude in the many experiences I had with Christ through prayers and meditation with the Gospel. One particular experience came to mind was when I prayed with the passage of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) right after I attended my grandniece’s baptism. It was very joyful.  I felt an extraordinary emotion enough to cry.  I felt as though Jesus told me that he stayed in my house today.  I felt Jesus’ Love and I am so grateful for his love and presence in my life.

In Study Skills class, taught by Jennifer Hanson, I was surprised to learn that I am an existentialist.  When thinking about my past, it made a lot of sense. I realized that I am grateful for finding where my existence is in the kingdom of God.

In the Stages of Faith class taught by Dr. Pamela Bjourklund, I learned about the different phases of faith, which made me appreciate my faith better.

In the Hebrew Scriptures course taught by Raymond O’Connor, I learned more about the Old Testament.  I felt liberated, especially after appreciating what should be considered when reading the Hebrew Scriptures.  I have many questions and speculations in the back of my mind.  Some of them were either answered or confirmed.

I appreciate the Diocese of San José for offering the ILM program. Thanks to Father Christopher Bransfield for recommending me; Irma G. Alarcon de Rangel, the director of the ILM, Bishop Oscar Cantú, and many others who are not mentioned. I am grateful for the opportunity to add to my learning through the ILM.