Diocese graduates first class from new development program for young Catholic professionals

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(Billy Hardiman/CATHOLIC SUN)
Tepeyac Leadership Initiative

A five-month leadership program oriented toward the development of Catholic professionals to advance the mission of the Church and serve the common good in secular society. TLI participants are chosen from an emergent group of talented Catholic professionals in the public and private sectors across the Diocese of Phoenix. TLI educates participants in the core teachings of the Church and how to apply them through their career.

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A new diocesan program designed to equip young Catholic professionals for leadership roles in the workplace and the community has sent its first graduates into the world.

The inaugural session of the Phoenix Diocese’s Tepeyac Leadership Initiative concluded with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and dinner recognizing the program’s initial 34 participants at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in downtown Phoenix June 20. Graduating leaders were joined in the evening by their families, TLI officials, sponsors and a number of the professionals who led presentations during the five-month program that began Feb. 6.

“I’m so grateful to God for this evening,” Bishop Olmsted said during dinner. “This really is what I have been praying for and hoping for probably since I had the privilege of working with John Paul II in 1979. He was deeply convinced the Church was every one of us and the Church is the light of the world.”

Named for the mountain in northern Mexico where St. Juan Diego met Our Lady of Guadalupe in December 1531, TLI was launched in fall 2017. Participants attended three-hour classes each Tuesday evening during which they listened to business, civic and religious leaders discuss a variety of subjects interwoven with Church teachings in relevant areas. Prior to each session, they were required to read and review various documents on Catholic teaching. For example, before the March 6 session on health, which featured three industry professionals, students were assigned to read and review a one-page summary of the USCCB’s “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services.”

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“The program is not about catechesis. It is really about leadership from a Catholic lens. But we do cover many Church teachings,” coordinator Cristofer Pereyra said. “There were some real, practical knowledge on how to be a community leader: running for office, joining a board, working on a philanthropy project; but what really helped participants most is the witness of faith each presenter brought. Each came as an expert in his or her respective field, but they showed how it was their faith that was driving their success.”

Graduates felt better equipped to integrate their faith and careers for God’s glory.

TLI 2018 Graduates

Roxana Amaton

Norma Carrillo

Ricardo Contreras

Maria Escarceca

Javier Espinoza

Gustavo Estrella

Rosa Fligg

Gloria Guerra

Pedro Gutierrez

Seth Graham

Angela Heisel

Dulce Hernandez

Kayla Iuliano

Alex Julian

Micaela Larkin

Rafael Lavallade

Andrew Lishko

Claudia Lopez

Marisa Lopez

Andres Martin

Bienvenido Morel

Angelica Perez

Nazario Prieto

Juan Ramirez

Brian Rosario

Adrian Ruiz

Ryan Scharber

Scott Scharl

Aaron Smith

Mari Seaberg

David Segura

Jonathan Solorzano

David Tello

Rafael Testai

Mari Seaberg, a nurse with Americare Hospice and Palliative Care, said the ability to effectively mix the two will serve her in a unique way among the people she serves nearing the end of life.

“We (nurses) get to go to places where the clergy and nuns can’t, evangelizing in the workplace; being the best nurse I can be; being Christ to my patients; seeing Christ in my patients. That’s the beauty of sanctifying our ordinary lives so we can make the world an extraordinary place and lead others to heaven.”

Earlier, in his homily, Bishop Olmsted urged the graduating leaders in their work and civic activities to follow Jesus’ words from the Gospel passage for the day, “You are the light of the world … let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Mt 5:14-16).

“These words apply to each of you. They also apply to the whole purpose of the Tepeyac vision,” he said. “[You] are planted there by God; doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, elected officials, businesspeople, whatever you are. It’s not an accident that is where you are. The colleagues with whom you mingle every day. This is all part of God’s providence, and you are the light of Christ.”

Graduates saw the message extending even beyond the workplace and took the message to heart. More from the graduates.

“I want to be a better version of myself each day; a better father, husband; a better man,” said David Tello, a financial adviser for Raza Development Fund. “Leadership is about making those under you better. I hope my daughter becomes much better than I in all respects.”