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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

052617 charlotte gradsCOLUMBUS, Ohio — It was a day of great joy at the Pontifical College Josephinum, as the seminary celebrated its 118th commencement exercises on May 13. Members of the graduating class – 44 seminarians from 17 dioceses in the United States and abroad – were awarded degrees from the College of Liberal Arts, Pre-Theology Program or School of Theology, and thereby became alumni of the only pontifical seminary outside of Italy.

Graduates from the Diocese of Charlotte were Deacon Matthew Bean, Deacon Brian Becker Deacon Christopher Bond and Deacon Christian Cook, all of whom are expected to be ordained to the priesthood in June; and seminarian Juan Sanchez. Joseph Wasswa, also pictured, did not receive a degree, but completed some courses in the Pre-Theology Program, which he needed in order to apply to the School of Theology.

The day’s festivities began with a baccalaureate Mass celebrated by Monsignor Christopher J. Schreck, the Josephinum's rector and president. He was joined at the altar by many concelebrating priest faculty and visiting clergy.

Father Dan Schmitmeyer, vcoations director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, in his homily defined the day as one “of joy and happiness. Joy for our graduates as they finish their (studies), move on to the next step in their lives, and continue to discern who God wants them to be. And joy and happiness for all of their friends and family gathered here today to congratulate them on all of their hard work.”

Baccalaureate Mass and commencement exercises were held in the restored and renovated St. Turibius Chapel, rededicated on April 24, 2017, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States and chancellor of the Josephinum.

Monsignor Schreck’s commencement remarks referenced the profound impact the renovation has on the lives of seminarians at the Josephinum.

“Today, we confer degrees for the first time in this newly restored St. Turibius Chapel,” he said. “The new outpouring of spiritual energy which the Holy Spirit will infuse into the future liturgical and prayer life of this seminary, through this uplifting and edifying art and architecture of this sacred place, will make the chapel’s rededication and these 118th commencement exercises one of the great historical markers in Josephinum history.”

At commencement, degree candidates were presented by Dr. Perry J. Cahall, dean of the School of Theology, and Dr. David J. De Leonardis, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Degrees were conferred by Monsignor Schreck, in the presence of Bishop Frederick F. Campbell of Columbus, vice chancellor of the Josephinum.

A Bachelor of Arts in philosophy or humanities was awarded to 13 graduates of the College of Liberal Arts. Twelve Pre-Theology graduates earned a Bachelor of Philosophy or Certificate of Completion in Philosophical and Theological Studies.

The Master of Divinity degree, which signifies fulfillment of the requirements for priestly ordination, was awarded to 19 graduates of the School of Theology, 10 of whom completed the additional academic requirements of a Master of Arts in dogmatic theology, moral theology, biblical studies or evangelization. The Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (STB), a pontifical degree conferred by the Josephinum in affiliation with the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, was awarded to 10 of the deacons.

College Senior Class Representative Daniel Rice, a seminarian from the Diocese of Arlington, Va., was invited to offer the valedictory address.

As alumni of the Josephinum, “we take with us a depth of inquiry, a sense of wonder, continuing to ask the most important questions about God, the world, and human nature,” he said. A graduate “leaves (the Josephinum) a better man, formed in the heart of the Church, more in love with Jesus Christ, and ready to pursue Him in another life.”

The 118th commencement exercises marked a defining moment in the vocational journey of the seminarians who received degrees. A majority of College and Pre-Theology graduates will continue their priestly discernment as they undertake graduate theological study. Graduates of the School of Theology return to their respective dioceses for priestly ordination. The Ordination Class of 2017 will join nearly 1,200 ordained alumni who currently serve the universal Church in nearly every U.S. state and in 18 different countries.

“We give thanks for the great events of this day,” Monsignor Schreck said. “In our bittersweet sense of loss and gain, of happiness at achievement and sorrow at departure, we proudly send our graduates forth into the world and into the vineyard of priestly ordination.”

— Carolyn A. Dinovo, Director of Communications, Pontifical College Josephinum