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LEFT: The Serra House Toastmasters Founding Offi cers pose for a photo in 2020. From left to right, Deacon John Duffy, Secretary; Demetri Chuzel, Sgt at Arms; Father Jorge Garcia, President; Victoria Ledesma, VP-Public Relations; Father Emmanuel Onuoha, VP-Education; Dennis Gamalinda, Treasurer; Larry Curtis, VP-Membership (there is no photo available of the current club officers since the meetings have been held on Zoom since COVID). RIGHT: Seminarian Oliver Tirado, current Serra House Toastmasters Club President, delivers a persuasive point during a meeting.

By Pam Lucero

Toastmasters International is an educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs, but did you know that our very own Diocese has a Toastmasters Club?

The Serra House Toastmasters Club was established in January 2020 with the direction of Father Jorge Garcia, Rector of St. Junipero Serra House of Formation. The club members consist of priests, deacons, seminarians, lay ministers and community members. Initially the club met in-person, although a few months later it had to switch to Zoom gatherings due to COVID. The club is planning to return to in-person meetings soon.

Personally, I can attest to the fact that my investment in a Toastmasters Club has helped me become an effective Proclaimer of the Word at Mass. It also gave me the confidence to become a better communicator and improved my verbal and listening skills, which has helped me at work, at home and at my parish. It also gave me leadership skills that helped me become a more effective supervisor, including teaching me methods on how to better organize and conduct productive meetings.

One thing that’s special about our club is that we get to share our faith; we begin and end with prayer. One of the best segments of our gatherings is listening to the prepared and delivered speeches by our members. These are opportunities to get to know each other and to learn from a variety of topics that are selected and shared via a speech.

There are proven methods to assist us in drafting and preparing our speeches. We are able to practice our speeches and receive feedback on how to present the speech. This allows club members to improve each time that we deliver a speech.

There is also a method for how members are to observe and listen and then offer constructive feedback. If we put this feedback into practice, it becomes a pathway in which we are able to flourish, increasing our confidence, improving our communication skills, becoming better leaders and becoming better ministers in serving our brothers and sisters.

Another important factor is that we must deliver the speech within the time allotted. Thinking of the homilies at Mass, are there some homilies that you found the priest or deacon ended too soon? Or has there been a homily that was just too long? Toastmasters offers methods to help in these areas of time management.

Currently, we meet via Zoom twice a month, on second and fourth Tuesday evenings, for an hour and a half. Attendance is based on our availability, and I have found that the more time that I invest in the club, the greater the opportunity for me to improve my skills. If you are interested in being a guest to a Serra House Toastmasters Club gathering you may contact Deacon Louie Chanco, VP-Membership of Serra House Toastmasters, via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Pam Lucero is a parishioner at St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside, and a member of the Serra House Toastmasters Club.