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 | By Hilda Bocanegra

You Do Not Know What God Will Do with You Until You Put Yourself in His Hands

Graduation Speech by Hilda Bocanegra

Institute for Leadership in Ministry ‘23

Good evening, everyone. Today is a day of celebration for each of my fellow Institute for Leadership in Ministry (ILM) classmates. The day has finally come when we do not have to worry about turning in assignments to avoid having late work or sending evaluations that, for some strange reason, were very difficult for us to finish. All those concerns have completely vanished today because we are here together as a family to celebrate our achievements in the company of our loved ones. It isn't easy to summarize three years of learning, dedication, and concerns in just a few minutes because we have learned a lot and faced challenges on this journey.

Just yesterday, we started our first class and became the pioneers of distance classes because of the pandemic. Our cell phones and tablets became our sidekicks in the process, and in the comfort of our homes, we began this journey that has brought us to this moment. Although it was not easy to learn via Zoom, we always tried to be present and avoid setbacks as much as possible. Even with connectivity problems, we never gave up and were always willing to learn.

Every Wednesday and Saturday, our instructors tried their best to help us discover God and his purpose with us, which meant that we needed to allow him to be part of our lives. Each subject, such as Church history, the Holy Scriptures, theology, catechesis, social justice, and liturgy, to name a few, gradually became part of our lives. While I began not knowing my purpose, little by little, as I learned more, my reason for joining the ILM became clearer and eventually crystallized. The purpose of the Institute is to guide us in knowing Jesus and learning from Him.

During our time at the ILM, several of my colleagues lost family members or friends to the pandemic. I, at the beginning of the year, lost my older brother to cancer. This is one of the most difficult tests that God has given me in my life. His death made me reflect on the value of life as a gift from God. In other circumstances, without my faith, I would have questioned why he was in this situation and why such a good man had to leave us so soon. But with faith I found that the most important part of this process was realizing the power of prayer. While I was in the hospital, while I was praying, I could feel the presence of God, of the Holy Spirit in that little room, and I never felt alone. For that, I want to thank the ILM and especially for our first class with Deacon Gustavo Escrucería, “Encountering Christ," who emphasized the value of prayer and appreciation for God in our lives.

I want to take this moment to thank Bishop Cantú for supporting the opportunity that ILM provides to train leaders to serve the community. To Mrs. Irma Rangel and the staff, thank you for always being willing to gather around and support our teachers so that they could provide us with the best instruction. To all our professors, including the priests, who always gave their best so that we are here graduating today: thank you very much! And of course, to my colleagues with whom I shared 81 Wednesdays and 25 Saturdays, as we supported each other on this path that does not end today but has only just begun: thank you and remember we don't know what God will do with us until we put ourselves in his hands.

God bless you all always and may the Holy Spirit guide us in this new stage of our lives!

You Do Not Know What God Will Do with You Until You Put Yourself in His Hands 2
Hilda Bocanegra and Bishop Cantú