Lilia Garcia is a blessed person, no doubt about it. Over the years, she has been a member of just about every group in the parish, including taking an active role in parish leadership and on the Parish Council. She has been serving at the 10:30 AM Sunday mass as a minister for more years than I can remember, and I have only known her to be a person who encourages, animates, and engages just about anyone she meets.
Over the years, Lilia has taught me a great deal about leadership. She teaches by example. While she is deeply committed to our parish, she has taught me a parish has no borders. Her ministry and sense of mission has always reached into other parishes, inviting all to be one family. Her work has included many years volunteering with El Valor, and working to reach out and accompany children and people with disabilities. Lilia has also taught me a great deal about being a Pastor, making sure I pay attention to the people in need in the parish. She always looks for the one who needs to get involved in the parish, young and elderly alike. She never makes excuses – she just plows ahead and gets the job done. She is, as I see our Claretian founder, St. Anthony Claret, a tireless apostle.
Lilia will not rest, even recently when she was hospitalized. This past weekend our business administrator reported that Lilia sold 7 tables for the parish banquet, so that tells you she works to involve people in a commitment to support the parish. Before that, she was intent on attending the August parish festival but called me from her hospital room to tell me she couldn’t make it and how much she missed being with the people. She knows the importance of all the efforts of this parish, and it is her mission spirit that gives her, and others, life. Lilia faces some challenges with her health, but she has fierce determination to recover, and her struggle is inspiring. Suffering is not anything particularly new to her, having lost a son and having faced health issues before. Maybe she gathers strength from her husband, whom she accompanied earlier in his illness. And maybe she gathers strength from her commitment to serve others. What is apparent however, is her faith and love of the church.
The commitment of people is always a miracle of life – commitment reveals new adventures in relationships and gospel mission. Lilia certainly is blessed with commitment… and relationships. We pray for her these days. And thank God for all those who live by example in their leadership and ministry with others.
Fr. Bruce Wellems, CMF