Edgardo (Lalo) Jara, OFM, delivered the closing prayer of the diploma ceremony during the commencement exercise of the Fordham University Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education.

Doctor of Ministry Degree and a Special Honor for Edgardo (Lalo) Jara

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When Edgardo (Lalo) Jara, OFM, received his doctor of ministry degree from the Fordham University Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at the May 20 commencement ceremony in Keating Hall on the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx, his work was not quite over. That’s because Lalo was asked to deliver the closing prayer of the diploma ceremony.

Edgardo (Lalo) Jara, OFM, was all smiles when he received his doctor of ministry degree at the commencement ceremony of Fordham University Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education. His sister, who traveled from Costa Rica, and James Vacco, OFM, who lives with the friar fraternity with Lalo at Holy Name College, were on hand to support him.

“I felt honored when I received the email with this request. But I have to admit, I was a little nervous because I had to submit the prayer in advance for review, and I had a three-minute time limit,” said Lalo, who based the prayer on what he knew best – Franciscan values of humility, inclusion, and service to the poor and marginalized.

When he took the podium, Lalo spoke eloquently and passionately, incorporating his Franciscans roots.

“Lord, help us to be instruments of love and peace, instead of hatred and division. Help us to resonate joy, hope and love. Help us to be the salve that takes away the glumness in the life of many people,” Lalo said in prayer. “Help us bring compassion and healing to those we encounter in our ministries. Help us to remember we can always do more when we share our talents with our brothers and sisters.”

Lalo was grateful for the presence of James Vacco, OFM – a member of the friar fraternity and a formator at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C., where Lalo has been living since March 2022. James was representing the friar community. Lalo said he was blessed to also have other guests at the commencement, including his sister, Yanory Jara, who came from Costa Rica to support her brother.

“I felt very proud of his accomplishment. I am very happy for my brother because he is happy with his work and ministry projects. I got a little emotional and had to hold back tears – tears of joy, of course, because I am blessed to have him as my brother. I wished our parents could’ve been there, but I was proud to be representing our family. I took a lot of pictures to show them when I go back home,” said Yanory.

Lalo also invited close friends – including a family from Nashville, Tennessee, who migrated here from Africa, and a couple from Maryland who are members of the Cursillos movement, of which he has been spiritual director.

This month, Lalo went to California to deliver a keynote address to the Eucharistic Congress for the Diocese of Monteray, part of his responsibilities of being just one of 50 total priests nationally selected to give talks around the country about Eucharistic Revival. His role as a Eucharistic preacher is taking him to World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, in the first week of August, where he will also join a conference of 50 digital evangelizers. In November, he will be one of two religious representing the United States in Rome, meeting with the Secretariat of the Vatican. In December, Lalo is invited to host workshops and retreats in Houston, Texas.

“I am excited about my new role in the pastoral care program that the cardinal wants to implement. It involves listening sessions with parishioners so that they can be involved in pastoral planning more aligned with their needs. The goal is for each parish to implement a three-to-five-year plan,” he said.

“What I am doing right now is the perfect way to put into practice what I have learned in pursuit of my doctorate,” added Lalo, whose dissertation was about small ecclesiastical communities of faith in the Silver Spring, Maryland, Parish of St. Camillus, where he spent five years in ministry before a brief assignment at St. Francis of Assisi in Triangle, Virginia. With the support of Kevin Mullen, OFM, Provincial Minister, Lalo accepted an offer from the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., where he now serves as director of the office of cultural diversity and outreach, and evangelization and pastoral planning – two offices that the archdiocese merged into one.