The Reverend Father Ricardo Avila                                                        

The Senior Warden and Vestry of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Los Gatos announce today with great delight the calling of the Reverend Ricardo Avila (pronounced AH-vee-lah) to be our next rector. A caring pastor, vibrant preacher with a reverent liturgical presence, skilled administrator and vitalizing community organizer, Father Avila is currently the Interim Rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Long Beach, CA. Father Avila will join us October 15.

In summing up their faith in Father Avila as the right person to lead St. Luke’s forward after a journey of 18 months of committed effort, reviewing 19 applicants and engaging three in-depth, the search committee members and the vestry:

·      Praised his preference and knack for practice of High Church where his sermons focus on the readings, especially the Gospel, while including personal stories, and awareness of the needs of the parish and community.

·      Found him very approachable with a friendly manner and keen interest in wanting to know more about those he meets.

·      Having the ability to not disrupt the good things a parish is doing and the ability to maintain continuity in the parish.

·      Appreciated the way he looks to further facilitate outreach and other new programs. St. Luke’s Long Beach has a homeless program in many ways similar to what we are doing with the Pantry ministry. He will be very much at home and supportive in a personal way of the activities of that program and our other ministries.

·      Saw his passion for outreach to the 20’s, 30’s and marginalized as well as the Spanish community.

·      Saw value in his understandings of electronic outreach through his participation in an ongoing Podcast program.

 

The search committee recommendation after their visit to Father Avila’s current parish stated “Our sense is Father Avila would fit in extremely well with the St. Luke’s Los Gatos parish and is an excellent candidate for Rector due to his many talents and experiences, and especially due to his leadership skills that were clearly evident. We feel very comfortable in recommending that he be a candidate for the position.” The Vestry concurred through much discernment and dialogue and spending two days with Father Avila where he toured our church, conducted a service, dined with some Vestry members, spoke to Diocese of California leadership, reviewed the church finances, lunched with other Vestry members and participated in a formal in-depth interview process that Father Avila would fill the criteria of:

·      strong pastoral care

·      enthusiastic entrepreneurial leadership

·      continued emphasis on the liturgical beauty and diversity of our different services

·      professional administrative skills

·      sermons that fed us intellectually and would bring the gospel alive in terms we would understand and in the context of the world we live in today, and 

·      the ability to leverage our unique position geographically to bring more people to our parish to be closer to God.

“I believe we are making a bold - and brave! - move to invigorate our parish with fresh energy and initiative, making it a magnet church for those appreciative of timeless tradition, yet seeking a dynamic, socially conscious community in which we can practice our faith, learn to be better people together, and bring our message of love back out into the world.” said John DeSantis, Senior Warden.

At St. Luke’s in Long Beach, Father Avila has planned liturgies, preached regularly, provided pastoral care while overseeing major property projects, including a capital campaign rollout to support needed steeple repair and office renovations; leading the Spanish-language service; enacting stewardship campaigns; balancing the budget; managing a nine-member staff; and coordinating interfaith community events.

In Father Avila’s letter to our church, he writes, “Brimful with gratitude and enthusiasm for the ministry ahead, I come eager to take up my post as your next rector.  Thanks for your faith in me.  With God’s help, I mean to do all in my power to shepherd us into new life and growth in the coming years, and I look forward to getting to know each of you as we step forth together.

 

I’m told you’re a bit of a shy bunch, yet one that longs to reach out beyond the church walls to enliven your Christian faith in service and new community.  Alongside such “outreach” is an equally important need for “in-reach”: to nurture our souls and deepen in faith, learning, and relationship with one another.  This beautiful church, with its central location, will flourish as we engage in new endeavors while upholding beloved traditions.  Together, we will embody Christ’s message of love and hope in the city of Los Gatos.

On our website www.stlukeslg.org you will find:

§  A letter from Father Avila to the St. Luke’s Los Gatos community .