Diocesan News

Pastoral Institute Grads Reflect on Training

Dora Bautista
Dora Bautista
Esmeralda Hidalgo
Esmeralda Hidalgo


The diocesan Pastoral Institute interviewed two graduates of its three-year Lay Ministry Program who were commissioned as lay pastoral leaders in May, 2013. They were asked about the effects that their participation in the program has had on their lives and ministries.

The interviewees were Esmeralda Hidalgo of Our Lady of Fatima parish, East Elmhurst, and Dora Bautista of Blessed Sacrament, Jackson Heights. Both attended classes at St. Sebastian’s,Woodside.

Here is the text of the interviews:


PI: Were there changes in your life as a result of your formation in the Lay Ministry Program?

EH: It was a beautiful process. To take classes again! Classes about the Lord! It was a good experience of learning and sharing, of accepting challenges and failing in others, such as not completing the integration papers on time.

Especially important and exciting was the work of all the teachers, how they gave of themselves totally and love what they do; it’s something to emulate.

Yes, I firmly believe that my way of seeing life has changed. I am now more aware of what I do for myself and for others. I understand why I was created and what the purpose of my life is. It is so much more profound than I can express.

DB: The changes in my life were many: personal, intellectual, emotional and social but especially on the spiritual and religious level. I have left behind old patterns of behavior and now understand perfectly well what the New Evangelization requires of us.


PI: At what point did you begin to notice these changes?

EH: I don’t know exactly. I think that they began on the first day. The changes began slowly and haven’t ended. This change will continue throughout my life.

DB: During each semester, the changes in my life were undeniable; each topic studied would enrich and reinforce my needs as a layperson. I also felt a driving power to continue.

During the discernment and supervised practicum stage of formation, those changes came to fruition. The more I learned, the more committed I felt toward the people I was responsible for. I began to get closer to them to make them feel the love of God through what I conveyed to them. It was so special to be able to help them to see their dignity and how important they are to God.


PI: After being commissioned, what fruits have you observed?

EH: I think that what happens is that one is reborn to a more spiritual world. Nothing in my life is the same because I see life and the world through different lenses: a renewed faith. It makes me realize that there is plenty to do in the vineyard of the Lord. The program gives us the tools and prepares us to begin our work.

DB: The fruits that I am seeing are dedication, enthusiasm and most of all the participation in the parish community by the newly baptized whom I had the grace to guide in the R.C.I.A. process.


PI: What happened in your spiritual life? Did your relationship with God grow? Was your faith strengthened?

EH: I think that my spiritual life has improved, but I still have not come to feel that I have reached the highest point. I still have to struggle with fears and outbursts of little faith. I have faith, but there are times that I lack faith. Either this means that I don’t have enough or simply that I am human and that it’s OK to have some desert experiences.

Despite this, I feel close to God. It is as if I feel Him closer to me in the sad and desolate moments. He takes me in His arms and I feel His love and understanding. Not having enough faith gives me a pain in the heart. This is something that I have to continuously work on.

DB: My spiritual life was transformed to the point that I felt truly loved and guided by God, with an enormous desire to serve Him and help others to know, love and serve Him. I also became more disciplined in my time for prayer and contemplation. Another important thing, I began to look at others with mercy – regardless of race, status or beliefs. My faith was strengthened to the point of counting on God every moment of my life.


PI: Was your awareness raised on how to transmit the faith to others?

EH: I feel the desire to speak about how great God and His creation are every moment that I get the opportunity. But I am mindful that I have to keep on learning to be able to reach others.

The Lay Ministry Program wakes one up and fills us with the desire to keeping on learning about God’s marvels and our religion.

DB: With regard to transmitting the faith to others, it became very clear to me that the best catechesis is my own good example. That is why I take care to nurture my Christian life.


PI: What has been your contribution to the parish with the leadership training acquired during your formation in the Institute?

EH: I was able to participate in only three sessions before my mom got sick. My priority changed from my ministry to my mother. After the loss of my mother, I understood that I needed to take care of myself and accept that it was OK if I didn’t have the motivation to return to ministry for a while.

Thanks to God, in January, 2014, I will continue with the commitment I made during the Commissioning Ceremony that is in the ministry of baptism preparation for parents.

DB: At this time, my specific contribution in the parish is in the R.C.I.A. ministry. Together with the coordinator, I help to schedule and carry out the activities that we plan for the catechumens each week.


PI: What was your ministry performance like before? How is it now?

EH: Before the Lay Ministry Program, I sang – I always thought that when one sang one prayed twice – and was a proclaimer of the Word but didn’t feel I was doing a ministry either in the choir or as a reader. I think that now I carry out my baptismal preparation ministry with passion so that parents and godparents understand how important the sacrament of baptism is in the life of their children and in theirs also. We have to inspire people, not discourage them. And if I’m inspired, I’ll be able to pass it on to those listening to me. We have to love what we do for and through God!

DB: Before, I was focused on ministering in a responsible and serious manner. Now, I added another ingredient, which is passion for the Gospel with a great desire that many will know and live it!


The Lay Ministry Program provides leadership training for lay persons interested in serving as a volunteer coordinator or team member for a specific parish ministry. Classes in English and Spanish begin in September. Candidates must be nominated by their pastor and submit a detailed application.

Information sessions will be held on March 24 at St. Margaret School, Middle Village, starting at 7:15 p.m.

Prior registration for the session is required and can be made through the Pastoral Institute’s website at http://dioceseofbrooklyn.org/lay-ministry-program-information-sessions/