August 28, 2020

Intercultural Pastoral Institute graduates encouraged to take advantage of ‘beautiful opportunity to be prophets of hope’

(En Espanol)

Graduates of the Archdiocese Hispanic Pastoral Leadership Institute pictured with various priests after a graduation ceremony at St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Indianapolis on July 3. In all, 22 individuals received diplomas as part of the Archdiocese's eighth class of pastoral leadership graduates. (Photo sent)

Graduates of the Archdiocese Hispanic Pastoral Leadership Institute pictured with various priests after a graduation ceremony at St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Indianapolis on July 3. In all, 22 individuals received diplomas as part of the Archdiocese's eighth class of pastoral leadership graduates. (Photo sent)

By Mike Krokos

Oscar Castellanos congratulated the newest graduates of the archdiocesan Intercultural Pastoral Institute (IPI), but he also told them much will be expected of them. 

“Leadership is dangerous. As we move forward, the label of ‘leader’ will be imposed on you, just for the fact that you received your certification,” the archdiocesan director of the Office of Intercultural Ministry told the 22 graduates of IPI’s pastoral leadership program. “There will be expectations from people—your family, your community and even your pastor. Once again, leadership by definition implies to step outside of your comfort zone, willing to challenge people with Gospel values. This is the time, a beautiful opportunity to be prophets of hope.” 

Castellanos’ comments were made on July 3 during solemn vespers celebrated for the IPI graduates at

St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Indianapolis. The goal of the institute is to form pastoral and catechetical leaders within the various ethnic communities in the archdiocese.

“More than ever, the Church in the U.S. and the Hispanic community are invited to redefine our understanding of leadership,” noted Castellanos. “The current challenges and opportunities call for an adaptation of the traditional ways of serving, leading and transmitting our faith to newer generations.” 

The two years of formation that graduates participated in, he continued, offered “an opportunity to learn how to love, educating the mind and heart of the participants through an integral formation. 

“We have done more than acquiring new information. The pastoral institute is just an instrument that allows us to facilitate [an] educational experience. Self-reflection has been the distinctive way of operating.” 

In her talk to fellow graduates, Isabel Franco said graduating IPI’s pastoral leadership program was a life-changing experience. 

“Today, feel proud to be here, wearing your blue robe,” said Franco, a member of Holy Spirit Parish in Indianapolis. “This robe not only represents the end of a stage in our lives, but also the obstacles and trials that we had to go through in order to be here today.” 

Those trials, Franco told her classmates, included dealing with the coronavirus this spring, which led to being quarantined and learning online. But the pandemic did not deter the graduates from fulfilling their goal of completing their coursework. 

“Each one knows what motivated him or her to enter this path of study, the support they received, or whether they walked on this path alone as a requirement from their ministry to continue growing,” she said. “Whatever the reason that brought us here, the one who kept us and has made it possible for us to be here today is none other than our Lord.” 

While some students left the program after the first year, others soon arrived and invested time and energy and shared their gifts in helping others grow in their lives of faith, Franco noted. 

“During this last year, we also discovered and reflected on the gifts of our classmates and we recognized some of them in class; we celebrated and spent some time sharing food, drinks and dynamics,” she said. “And even though some were on time, while others arrived after the bell rang, we were always in the same time zone—God’s time. And here I include those who after a year, or a little more, are here today. No matter what it takes to reach a goal, what counts is that we reach it, and today we celebrate together our efforts and perseverance.”

Franco also thanked IPI’s instructors for assisting the students as they journeyed through the program. 

“These teachers … gave us the space to think about what we didn’t understand, who taught us to break down what we were learning, who moved us to see after the common good and to be servants, who helped us learn new things, who dispelled our doubts, while helping us discover our gifts and leadership styles,” she said. “But above all, thank God for allowing us to be here.”

Franco also cited a verse from the Gospel of Luke to encourage her classmates to let their light shine as they serve as ministers of the Church: “No one lights a lamp and covers it with a bowl or puts it under a bed. Instead, it is put on the lampstand, so that people will see the light as they come in” (Lk 8:16). 

“Therefore, my friends, it is not by chance that we are here today, being lamps that not even a pandemic can put out,” she said, “so let us go forward where the Lord is taking us to continue to serve him, so those who enter where we are can see and recognize the light of our Lord.”
 

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

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