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 | By Amy Cooprider

Love is Indeed the Common Theme

Graduation Speech delivered by Amy Cooprider, Institute for Leadership in Ministry Class of 22

My dear classmates, with regards to our faith, it is as if we started the Institute for Leadership in Ministry (ILM) three years ago with a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle that has yet to be completed. Just like a puzzle, analogously, I think we all began with just the border pieces worked out, already filled with admiration for the shapes and colors of the individual pieces. As our time together progressed, more pieces fit together, and we found ourselves relishing each new understanding and loving the Church even more.

During our first class in the program, Encountering Christ, I vividly recall being gobsmacked by the idea that reading, one of my favorite things to do, could be a form of prayer. I am so grateful to my classmates for sharing their experiences and insights in those moments when we delved deeply into and explored the gospels.

About a year after those encounters, my grandmother died and the next day my husband and daughter drove away for her first year of college — only one person could help students move in— and I felt terribly alone and heavy-hearted. I sat on the bed for a good cry and knew immediately that Christ sat with me; that I was not alone and was comforted. I credit and thank the ILM for that. As Sister Pat reminded us, “Prayer is an experience, an encounter. Stay with Jesus.”

This past month, for the first time ever, I found myself struggling to write a speech: this speech. My classmates know I am not shy about asking questions or sharing opinions. But after reviewing 3 years of notes, I realized I could not summarize or distill what is in my head, but rather what is in my heart. I had tried finding a theme, an arc, but nothing compares to the joy borne of seeing how the more I learn of our faith and of our church, the more right it seems, and the more in love I am with our Lord and his people.

Love is indeed the common theme. After reviewing and discussing Catholic Social Teaching with Bishop Cantú, I reread my notes on one of the first things we learned, Tikkun Olam, which in Hebrew means, “to repair the world.” During our sojourn into the Hebrew scriptures, Rabbi Wallenberg and Dr. O’Connor introduced us to this idea. It seems fitting that after learning so much about the church, its encyclicals like Laudato Si, its teachings, ecclesiology, Christology etc., that we would end by discussing how we too can repair the world.

The ILM helped us realize that the pieces of our puzzle are not glued down. God created us to actively seek, create, and work on our own puzzles and those of others. I thank you, my fellow students, our instructors, Irma, Bishop Cantú, our pastors and so many others who helped us see what part of the finished picture could look like. Thank you.

Love is Indeed the Common Theme

Amy is a student in the Graduate Program for Pastoral Ministry at Santa Clara University as part of the Advanced Lay Leader Program which she began as a 3rd year ILM student.  She is a member of Queen of Apostles parish where she is a catechist. She has played her flute and sung with church music groups most of her adult life including St. Cyprian’s, Queen of Apostles and St. Martin of Tours. She and her family enjoy outdoor activities and her children are both in college.

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