July 19, 2019

Intercultural Pastoral Institute graduates encouraged to ‘go to the peripheries,’ be ‘ambassadors for Christ’

Graduates of the archdiocesan Hispanic Pastoral Leadership Institute are pictured with Archbishop Charles C. Thompson and several priests after a graduation liturgy at St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Indianapolis on June 15. All told, 34 graduates—27 in pastoral leadership, and seven in spiritual direction—received certificates on that day. (Photo by Mike Krokos)

Graduates of the archdiocesan Hispanic Pastoral Leadership Institute are pictured with Archbishop Charles C. Thompson and several priests after a graduation liturgy at St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Indianapolis on June 15. All told, 34 graduatesó27 in pastoral leadership, and seven in spiritual directionóreceived certificates on that day. (Photo by Mike Krokos)

By Mike Krokos

The newest graduates of the archdiocesan Intercultural Pastoral Institute were encouraged by Archbishop Charles C. Thompson to live their lives in service to others.

“Each of us, by our baptism, is called to holiness and mission. This calling is the essence of discipleship in Jesus Christ,” the archbishop said in a homily during a June 15 certification Mass that he celebrated in Spanish at St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Indianapolis.

Present at the Mass was the seventh graduating class from the archdiocese’s Hispanic Pastoral Leadership Institute, and its third graduating class in spiritual direction. All told, 34 graduates—27 in pastoral leadership, and seven in spiritual direction—received certificates.

“Holiness necessarily involves an intimate union with the Holy Trinity—God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” Archbishop Thompson continued. “It is only through divine grace, rather than human merit, that we become holy people of God. One cannot be holy without embracing the mission of Jesus Christ, that which Jesus has entrusted to the Church.”

The Mass was concelebrated by several priests. In his homily to the graduates, Archbishop Thompson also cited a former pope.

“Those who serve as spiritual directors or leaders of faith do well to keep in mind the words of Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI: ‘To be sure, we do not possess the truth, the truth possesses us. Christ, who is the truth, has taken us by the hand, and we know that his hand is holding us securely on the path of our quest for knowledge.’ ”

Ministry leaders must seek the will of God for themselves and for others, the archbishop continued. “Reconciled to God, as St. Paul points out, ‘we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us’ ” (2 Cor 5:20).

In a program after the liturgy, Providence Sister Tracy Horan reminded the graduates that the classes they attended helped shape their futures in ministry.

“The [Intercultural Pastoral] Institute says that the program does not only inform, but also forms the mind and the heart,” said Sister Tracy, who served as keynote speaker. “This seems appropriate to me because the way that they have been formed has been the way that our hearts work.”

The graduates, she continued, invested lots of time and energy to grow in their lives of faith.

Like Pope Francis has said, Sister Tracy noted, each of us must not be afraid to travel “to the peripheries” in ministering to others.

“God is not afraid of the peripheries,” she said.

As a class instructor, Sister Tracy said she enjoyed seeing her students “explore the peripheries” in their classes about Catholic social teaching.

“I admire the faith of many of them who weren’t afraid to question and to offer opinions or different perspectives,” she said. “This showed me a living faith, a faith that has no fear of going to the peripheries and developing, of going outside comfort zones.”

Agustín Tores, a member of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, said that during his seven years as a member of the southern Indiana parish, the Hispanic community has consistently grown there.

“These classes offered a way to form me as a leader, to get to know my faith community better, and to prepare me for the way that God wants to lead me,” said Torres, who graduated from the pastoral leadership program.

Yaquelín Vázquez, a member of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis, said she took part in the program because she wanted to delve deeper into Catholicism.

“More than anything, now that I know more about my faith, I’d like to become more involved in my parish,” said Vázquez, also a graduate from the pastoral leadership program. “Wherever I can serve, where Father [Michael O’Mara, her parish’s pastor] says I can help, that’s what I’ll do.”

Archbishop Thompson encouraged the graduates to draw from Scripture and the Eucharist “the grace we need to carry forth the mission of Jesus Christ in the way of holiness. The Holy Spirit has been given to fill up what is lacking in us as ambassadors for the Lord in the ministry of spiritual direction and the service of leadership.

“Let us give thanks to God for calling forth those we recognize and celebrate this day as his ambassadors,” the archbishop continued. “Let us open our minds and hearts ever more fully to being possessed by the truth of Christ, that our witness will lead others to a personal encounter with the person of Jesus Christ.”
 

(To learn more about the Intercultural Ministry Institute and its program, visit www.archindy.org/multicultural.)

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