Two years of intense studies and hard work paid off for 100 local Catholics June 9 when they graduated from a formation program designed to deepen their faith and equip them as catechists and evangelists.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted lauded the efforts of the graduates of the Kino Catechetical Institute’s adult faith formation and parish leadership program.
“It’s a joy for me to join you here tonight,” Bishop Olmsted told a packed St. Mary’s Basilica during a bilingual Mass and graduation ceremony.
Carole Tedeschi and Clarice Stauble, two sisters who are parishioners at St. Joan of Arc Parish and who received their certificates, said they enrolled and stuck with it because they wanted to learn more about their faith. Stauble, who already had a master’s degree in theology, said she learned plenty through Kino’s course of study.
“I don’t care how much information I had previously learned, I still have tons that I picked up,” Stauble said. Tedeschi agreed and said that even though she grew in her understanding of the faith, she discovered “how little I know of my faith and how much I need to learn. By going here, you have this tremendous desire to learn and understand. You want to reach out.”
Bishop Olmsted echoed those sentiments in his homily.
“Kino has helped you discover there is so much more to learn and study. Now you know how little you know about your Catholic faith,” Bishop Olmsted said.
His prayer, he said was that the graduates would “desire to learn more every single day about Jesus Christ, His body the Church and His Divine Providence.” He said he also prayed that the graduates would grow in the love of God and of their brothers, sisters and neighbors. “There is no greater understanding of the faith without love.”
Laura and Luis Bermudez, a married couple from St. Anne Parish in Gilbert, attended Kino’s formation program in Spanish. They grew in their knowledge of the faith but said the overall take-away was the realization of how much God loves each and every person.
“He is there for each of us and loves us unconditionally,” Laura said. A volunteer at The St. Andrew School of Evangelization at her parish, she said she took part in Kino’s formation program so that she could serve better.
“It was an amazing experience,” she said. “When we first started, I was overwhelmed with all we had to learn. There were a lot of knowledgeable, dedicated priests and you could feel and experience their love for Christ through their talks and their teachings.”
The next two-year formation program begins in late August.
Register by July 15: kinoinstitute.org
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Luis said he felt a sense of accomplishment after having completed the program. His wife is more comfortable in Spanish, but he isn’t. “I kind of wanted to challenge myself,” Luis said. “It was hard for me, but she helped me a lot,” he said of his wife. The two plan to use what they’ve learned to better serve the Spanish-speaking community.
At the end of the Mass, Steve Greene, director of Kino, called each graduate forward to receive a certificate of completion of studies from Bishop Olmsted, who stood beside MaryBeth Mueller, executive director of Kino. The crowd of families and friends gave the graduates a standing ovation.