Thursday, May 31, 2012

A tribute to Steve

By John Andrews
Director, Communications Department


About a year ago I heard a description of two American Catholic constituencies that sticks with me. A journalist speaking at the Catholic Media Convention posited that there are basically two kinds of Catholics in the country right now: those who are most concerned with identity, and those who are most concerned with inclusion.

Steve Valenzuela+
This brings me to Steve Valenzuela. The director of the diocesan Office of Small Faith Communities and a life-long minister in the Church returned to God last week after he had experienced a rather sudden health complication. Many of us who worked with him and called him a friend are still trying to come to grips with the fact that he is no longer roaming the halls of the Diocesan Pastoral Center, his trustee coffee cup often in hand and always offering you a friendly greeting. He was quite a presence in diocesan and parish ministry for such a long time, never missed at diocesan celebrations, liturgies, planning meetings and other gatherings. Very often he had a hand in planning or leading them and they were much better for it.

While there is no question that Steve’s sense of Catholic identity was strong, I believe he would fall into the camp of being most concerned with inclusion. I am personally grateful for having known Steve because of the very welcoming and inclusive spirit that was at his core. Now Steve had definite opinions about things, and you might find yourself in disagreement with him on this or that. But even in those moments, he made you believe that what you had to say was important.

When I came to work for the diocese five years ago, having been confirmed only two years before that, I was somewhat ill at ease talking about matters of faith around all of these folks who had ministered in the Church most of their lives. What could I possibly have to contribute to a conversation about theology? But as the months and years went by I found myself engaged in these kinds of talks with Steve and others around the lunch table. This has been very important to my faith life and I have him to thank for it.  God gifted Steve with the ability to get people talking about faith, even the reluctant ones. Whether it was posing just the right question or directly inviting a quiet one to talk, he was determined that everyone’s voice was heard. Hundreds of small faith communities in our diocese have been born of that gift. What a blessing he was!

Though we grieve that he is no longer ministering alongside us we can take solace in knowing this good and faithful servant is at rest with our Lord. ‘Well done, Steve.’
For Sharing and Reflection…
How did Steve impact your ministry and your faith?

Un tributo a Steve

Por John Andrews
Director, Communications Department

Hace aproximadamente un año, escuché una descripción de dos grupos de católicos americanos que se me quedó grabada en la mente. Durante la Convención de los Medios de Difusión Católicos, uno de los oradores, un periodista, afirmó que en la actualidad hay básicamente dos tipos de católicos en el país: quienes se preocupan más por la identidad, y quienes se preocupan más por la inclusión.

Steven Valenzuela+
Esto me hace pensar en Steve Valenzuela. El Director de la Oficina Diocesana de las Comunidades de Fe y ministro vitalicio en la Iglesia partió a su encuentro con el Señor la semana pasada después de haber sufrido una inesperada complicación de salud. Muchos de nosotros que trabajamos con él y que lo llamamos amigo estamos todavía tratando de asimilar el hecho de que él ya no camina por los pasillos del Centro Pastoral Diocesano, su famosa taza de café a menudo en la mano y ofreciéndote siempre un amable saludo. Él fue una presencia notoria en el ministerio diocesano y parroquial por un largo tiempo, nunca faltaba a las celebraciones, liturgias, reuniones de planeación y otras reuniones diocesanas. Muy a menudo él contribuyó a la planeación o conducción de dichos eventos, lo cual los hizo mucho mejor.

Aunque no cabe la menor duda que Steve tenía una fuerte identidad católica, creo yo que él estaría en el grupo de los que se preocupan más por la inclusión. Personalmente, estoy muy agradecido por haber tenido la oportunidad de conocer a Steve, con ese espíritu inclusivo y receptivo que le era tan característico. Ahora bien, Steve tenía opiniones definitivas sobre ciertas cosas y tal vez podrías estar en desacuerdo con él sobre esto o aquello. Pero aun en esos momentos, él te hacía sentir que lo que tú tenías que decir era importante.

Cuando yo comencé a trabajar para la diócesis hace cinco años, habiendo recibido la confirmación sólo dos años antes, me sentía algo incómodo hablando sobre cuestiones de fe con estas personas que habían servido a la Iglesia la mayor parte de sus vidas. ¿Qué podía contribuir yo a una conversación sobre teología? Pero al pasar los meses y los años, terminé involucrado en este tipo de conversaciones con Steve y con otros mientras nos sentábamos a la mesa durante el almuerzo. Esto ha sido muy importante para mi vida de fe y por esto tengo que darle las gracias a Steve. Dios bendijo a Steve con la aptitud de hacer que las personas hablen sobre su fe, aun los que se muestran renuentes. Ya fuera haciendo la pregunta propicia o invitando directamente a una persona callada a hablar, su determinación era que se escuchara la voz de todos. Cientos de pequeñas comunidades de fe en nuestra diócesis han nacido de ese don. ¡Steve fue una gran bendición!

Aunque nos duele que él ya no esté con nosotros en el ministerio, nos consuela saber que este buen y fiel servidor descansa ahora con nuestro Señor. ‘Bien hecho, Steve.’
Para Compartir y Reflexionar…
¿Qué influencia tuvo Steve en tu ministerio y en tu fe?

6 comments:

  1. Steve was a great assist to me professionally and personally. He was instrumental in encouraging me to seek my Master's Degree at LMU, and was always there as a resource and a "prod" to keep me going.

    He had a funny way of turning his head and raising his chin while he talked to you, all the while full of mirth and wisdom. He loved to share the joy when you succeeded, and to stand with you when you didn't. He was with the Spirit and the Spirit was with him.

    He was an intellgent, modern man, fully dedicated to ministry and service to others, he will be greatly missed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Steve will be missed by all who knew him. Steve loved the Catholic faith and he devoted his life to it.

    I will miss Steve, he was great friend in every way and a friend I will never forget. "Shine on you Crazy Diamond."

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jeanette ArnquistMay 31, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    I already miss Steve. As John wrote, he was usually there in the lunch room and happy to have a conversation about the latest news, movie or book. How empty the lunch room feels without him.

    But Steve offered much more than interesting conversation at lunch. Steve would listen patiently to my wildest ideas, and, in most cases he was ready to offer his assistance, and made significant contributions to the effort.

    I first met Steve when he was campus minister at CSUSB and he sought out and invited the newly formed Human Concerns Commission, of which I was a member, to do a workshop with the students. While he was in that position, we did a few more events together. Later, as the new director of Small Faith Communities, he involved the whole Office of Social Concerns in planning and writing the reflections for Advent.

    Collaboration is an overused word in ministry, but I am not overusing it when I say that Steve was the most collaborative person with whom I have ever worked. He was always ready to go out of his way to be involved wherever he could make a contribution.

    Beyond all of this, Steve was my friend. He journeyed with me through the long illnesses of my father and step-mother. He was there to listen. He never used cliché’s and he never gave advice.

    Rest in peace, my friend, and pray for those of us left here trying to get by without you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. José Luis EliasMay 31, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Because this is from the heart I need to write it in Spanish: Steve fue fundamental en la base y crecimiento del MFI. Siempre amó la formación de todos, especialmente de los laicos. A mi y a cada uno en el MFI nos apoyó siempre y fue un Instructor constante cada semestre en cada una de la generaciones del Instituto. Para él fue una prioridad colaborar con nosotros, especialmente con la Conferencia Pastoral de Otoño, siempre nos sugirió los mejores Presentadores y no descansaba hasta que todo estaba listo. Steve era preparado, pero aún así, nunca descansaba de aprender. Muchas veces lo vi en las Conferencias, Talleres y Simposios sentado en una silla, aprendiendo como cualquier otro participante. Como dice John era agradable dialogar con él aunque algunas veces uno no estuviese de acuerdo con los puntos de vista siempre desafiantes. Steve conocía la sabia diferencia de las cosas. Yo personalmente experimenté su "ser humano" cuando una vez me llamó la atención por algo que no hice correctamente en un taller sabatino, sin embargo, el día siguiente él me pidió perdón y me dijo que por favor olvidara lo que había pasado. Era un ser humano, pero sobre todo una persona de fe, siempre comprometido en el servicio y en un espiritu de colaboración incesante. Yo podía ver su cuerpo cansado, pero su alma dinámica y creativa, eso se puede apreciar muy bien en los artículos que escribió en nuestro Byte y en otros recursos. Había en él una fuerza creativa que no se agotaba. Me deja, en lo personal, muchos valores que imitar: responsabilidad, creatividad, sacrificio, perseverancia, colaboración, eficacia... Con todas estas cosas no hay porque pensar ni si quiera levemente en ninguna de sus limitaciones. Gracias por lo que nos dejaste Steve y ahora sí, ¡descansa en paz!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Steve was an instrumental figure in helping me develop my instructional technology focus towards religious education. He listened intently to my many ideas, questioned if and how it would be possible to build community in cyberspace, responded with keen remarks to many of my instructional technology blog posts, and encouraged and prayed for me throughout the many trials I experienced on the road to completing my master's project thesis.

    I will definitely miss going into your office, Steve, to get the good candy and talk about whatever. Rest in peace.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I first met Steve as an instructor during CMFP instruction. He was one of our favorite instructors, making each subject that he presented interesting and informative. In the last few years, he has been involved in minstry at my parish, St Frances Cabrini. I was so impressed with his gentleness and how he included all of us. He had a unique gift of drawing people out and getting them to tell their story. His help and encouragement with RCIA and our parish retreats this year was a blessing! I am sorry that I didn't have a chance to know him better but he will be deeply missed at St Frances also.

    ReplyDelete

We encourage dialogue in the spirit of Christian fellowship, however any offensive, hostile or messages that go beyond the scope of the blog topic will be censored.

Alentamos el diálogo en un espíritu de compañerismo cristiano, sin embargo, cualquier ofensiva, hostil o mensajes que van más del tema del blog será censurado.