Two dozen members of St. John the Evangelist Church’s Hispanic community graduated from the Education in Ministry program recently, and a Mass was celebrated June 23 with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades that included awarding the graduates their certificates.
Three other members of the parish went through the program a second time as continuing education.
At the beginning of the Mass, Bishop Rhoades welcomed everyone and said, “Brothers and sisters this is a very special day — we celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and we celebrate your graduation.” He thanked the graduates for their hard work and studies, and their desire to serve the church.
Education for Ministry is a two-year program. Enid Roman de Jesus, director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry, and program director Lourdes Silva coordinated the studies. Silva said the goal was to ensure the graduates had “received solid formation with catechism” so they could instruct others. The program consisted of 18 classes; in this case, the students met once a month for a seven-hour day at St. John the Evangelist, Goshen.
Several Notre Dame professors, including Timothy Matovina, Craig Iffland and Esther Terry conducted the classes, as did several priests, including Father Bob Lengerich, Father Evaristo Olivera and Father John Herman. Diaconate candidates Giovanni Munoz, St. John the Evangelist, Marco Castillo, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Jose Ruvalcaba, St. Adalbert, taught two classes each, as did Fred and Lisa Everett, co-directors of the Office of Family Life.
Silva said an archbishop from Rome also came and taught a class, and the Franciscan Friars gave a full-day retreat as a closing to the program.
Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
During the homily the bishop said: “Today is a great feast in which we celebrate the mystery of God’s love. We can call this solemnity ‘the feast of love’ because we honor the heart that has loved so much, the heart of Jesus, the highest human expression of divine love.”
He told them the Sacred Heart of Jesus is not an imaginary symbol, but a real one representing the source of salvation for all mankind. “From the heart of Jesus comes forgiveness and life for all men.”
He referred to the first reading from the book of Deuteronomy, where Moses explained that the people of Israel were chosen. They were not chosen to be the most numerous, however, but rather to be the least numerous.
“In the Gospel of today Jesus also speaks of the little ones. And to be able to understand the love of God, this smallness of heart is necessary,” Bishop Rhoades said. “In this feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we acknowledge that in order to receive the love of God, we need to be humble, small, to make ourselves children. Only in that smallness, that lowering, can we receive God’s love. “
“We have to let the Lord take us by the hand. We have to open our hearts, as children and let the Lord love us.”
Bishop Rhoades said that in their pride, many do not accept the love of God and don’t feel they need his mercy — their hearts are closed.
“Today is a feast in which we show our gratitude, reverence and appreciation for the love of God revealed in the Sacred Heart of his Son. Today we contemplate the pierced heart of Jesus crucified. We hear his words, ‘Bear with my yoke and learn from me that I am patient in heart and humble.’”
He told the graduates: “You who are prepared to serve in the ministry of the church, always remember that the church was born from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, from his pierced heart. The mission of the church is to proclaim the love of God revealed by his Son, our redeemer. This is a great mission.”
The bishop said the world is full of systems that seek to build based on wealth, power, strength, science of pleasure but that is not the Christian system.
“Our mission, our job, is to proclaim love, salvation, redemption, eternal life. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is precisely the image that expresses our mission. It is the image of the infinite and merciful love that the Heavenly Father has poured into the world through his Son.”
“The goal of all we do in the church must be to lead people to find this love. The love of the Heart of Christ can transform the human heart and bring true peace to the world,” he said.
“As ministers of the church it is good to say this simple prayer, ‘Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours’. Prayer is essential in our lives. Those who serve in the church especially have to recognize that we cannot serve well if we depend on ourselves. We need God, we need to find him, listen to him and talk to him,” Bishop said. “We must have the hearts of the little ones, the children, the poor in spirit. We find in the Lord, in his Sacred Heart, rest in the fatigues of our journey and in our work. The love of God strengthens us and inspires us to imitate His love in our service to others.”
The bishop concluded by telling the graduates, “You have learned a lot in your classes, but the most important class, the most important education is the one we received in this school now — the school of the Eucharist. Our teacher is the Lord. We learn from his Sacred Heart humility, mercy and love. We receive his love in the great sacrament of his Body and Blood. Here we receive his grace that strengthens us in our mission and in our life as his disciple in a world that needs both his love and mercy.”
At the end of Mass the bishop handed the certificates to the graduates and each took the opportunity to have a few words with the bishop and share an embrace.
Following the Mass, dozens of parishioners who had completed the 33 Days to Morning Glory Marian consecration retreat came forward to pray the consecration prayer with Bishop Rhoades. All kneeled together before of a statue of Mary located in an alcove on the left side of the sanctuary, and prayed softly and reverently, as one. Silva said some had recently completed the retreat, while others were renewing their consecration.
Graduates of the St. John the Evangelist Education for Ministry Spanish-language program are: Claudia Altamirano, Arturo Benitez, Maria Benitez, Sandra Carrasco, Arturo Cervantes, Maria Cervantes, Marcela Gomez, Alma D. Gonzalez, Celina Gonzalez, Maria del C. Hernandez, Gilberto Locsa, Braulio Machado, Yolanda Machado, Rosa T. Munoz, Hilda Nunez, Lupe Ornclas-Pizana, Carlos Ortega, Esperanza Perez, Eloina Quiroz, Mirna Rodriguez, Juana Rosales-Marin, Jose Ruiz, Ana Salazar and Maribel Salgado.
The three women who participated in the program as a continuation of their previous Education for Ministry education are Ricarda Bizarro, Guillermina Ortega and Alejandra Serna.
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