The mission of the Advanced Lay Leadership Formation Program is to give further formation and training to select individuals who have discerned a call to leadership in the Church of San Jose. This expression of leadership can take place in a variety of roles and ministries:  faith formation, pastoral associate, liturgy, pastoral care, and social justice, to name a few.

Individuals are nominated by their pastors after having discerned a call, desire, and talent to serve in positions of lay ecclesial leadership in their parish communities or in Diocesan ministries. This advanced program under the umbrella of the Institute for Leadership in Ministry began in the Fall of 2001.

What is the content of the program?

Individuals in Advanced Lay Leadership participate together with those in the Permanent Deacon Formation Program form a cohort and study together during the four years of formation. The program includes four areas of formation:  human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral. This is provided through several elements:

  •  Theology classes in the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministry at Santa Clara University.  Classes typically meet one night a week.  Students take one graduate course per quarter (Fall, Winter, and Spring).
  •  Monthly diocesan formation sessions.   The  Saturday formation sessions (August through June)  provide the pastoral and practical skills necessary for today’s Church leaders. They take place at the Diocesan Chancery Office.
  • Spiritual formation includes a commitment to personal prayer, participation in the annual retreat, and have a spiritual director.
  • Field experience – Individuals will be involved in select areas of ministry such as social justice ministry, e.g. nursing home, jail, homeless shelter,  which is intended to stretch the candidate providing new horizons and developing new skills.

Spouses are most welcome and expected to attend the Saturday sessions and retreats.

Are students registered in the University?

Students are registered in the University but the initial program application is made to the ILM Director. Once accepted into the Advanced Lay Leadership Program, the Institute forwards the person’s name and contact information to the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries. The graduate program sends out the registration information and instructions..

If a student has an undergraduate degree, will a Master of Arts Degree be given at the end of the program?

Although the Advanced Lay Leadership Formation Program does not lead directly to a Master of Arts degree, students continue their coursework at the University to complete the requirements (usually four additional courses) leading to the degree. Arrangements for the degree program are made directly with the University.


What are the application requirements?
  • Completion of the  Institute for Leadership in Ministry formation program
  • Letter of recommendation from the pastor including the individual’s competence, character, experience in ministry, and  the area of parish leadership for which he or she is to be prepared
  • The recommendation of the Director of the Institute for Leadership in Ministry
  • Autobiographical essay and completion of the Application Packet.
  • Interviews with members of the Deacon/Advanced Lay Leadership Formation Board

The Formation Board meets to consider all applications and determines acceptance into the program based on the merits of the applicant. Acceptance is not automatic.


Who pays for the program?

The individual is responsible for the cost of the program but the parish may participate by providing some financial support. This would be negotiated between the parish and the individual. Santa Clara University provides tuition assistance to Advanced Lay Leader students. At present, the formation costs for Saturday sessions and retreats are funded by the Diocese.

For additional information:

Pastors and interested individuals are invited to contact Irma Alarcon de Rangel, Director of the Institute for Leadership in Ministry and the Advanced Lay Leadership Program 408-983-0111 or