On Sept. 15, just before she received her certificate as a Master Catechist, an excited Jennifer Ayon — accompanied by her parents and friends — reflected on her journey that led to this moment.

“From a young age I always knew I wanted to help people,” said the parishioner of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Rosehill) in East Los Angeles, a rehabilitative counselor who works with special needs children. “It comes from my family and parents — a family of catechists. So it is something really in my heart and I carry that with me every day knowing that I can give motivation and plant a seed of love in people’s hearts.”

Ayon was among dozens of catechetical ministers who were recognized for completing their ministerial formation process at the annual Commissioning Service for Catechists and Catechetical Leaders at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, presented by the Office of Religious Education. Every chair and pew was filled with honorees, as well as families, friends and fellow parishioners on hand to congratulate and support.

For those newly commissioned, this was the end of one segment of their journey, and the beginning of another, as suggested by Archbishop José H. Gomez in his homily. Reflecting on the Gospel reading in which Jesus commissioned his apostles to go and “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28: 16-20), he emphasized he reminded catechists that this too is their call.

“Go and make disciples,” in fact, is in line with the message of the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, “a very special moment in the life of the church,” said Archbishop Gomez who last year attended the synod of bishops that marked the start of the Year of Faith. Locally, the Year of Faith will close to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Junípero Serra (Nov. 24), said Archbishop Gomez. In founding the missions throughout the state more than 200 years ago, Father Serra established places of learning and missionary work, “and this was important for us today.”

“Our catechists among us do much of the same work with our children, teens, young adults and RCIA candidates,” said Archbishop Gomez. “Our prayer this afternoon is to pray for the missionaries among us." In addition to Master Catechists, others who received their certificates from Archbishop Gomez included those serving in Youth Ministry Studies, Instituto Biblico, Animadores y Animadoras de Estudios Biblicos, Institituto de Pastoral y Evangelizacion and Media Literacy. Next week, The Tidings will profile some of those who received their certification in catechetical ministry.