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BRIGHTON -- Graduates of St. John's Seminary's lay formation programs were joined by friends and families for the May 24 Mass and commencement held in the seminary chapel, at which they received their diplomas.
The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, and diplomas were conferred by seminary Rector Father Stephen Salocks. Also present for the ceremony were MAM and MTS Program Director Dr. Aldona Lingertat and Academic Dean Dr. Paul Metilly.
Members of this year's graduating class were Deacon Peter Bujwid, Deacon Robert Horne, Benjamin Knopf, and Luciana Prunier, who received their Master of Arts in Ministry (MAM) degrees, and Brenden Bell, who received a Master of Theological Studies (MTS).
In addition to the class of 2021, graduates of the class of 2020 were also invited to attend, since they were unable to have their own ceremony last year due to the pandemic.
"It was a beautiful day to celebrate the achievement of these adult students who have dedicated so much of the past few years (to) studying the faith and preparing themselves to more deeply serve the Lord and his Church," said Denise Daley, who is also a 2015 graduate of the MAM program.
May 24 was the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, and the day following Pentecost, which is celebrated as the birthday of the Church. But in his homily, Cardinal O'Malley named other moments in the New Testament that could be said to mark the beginning of the Church, such as the Annunciation and the moment when blood and water flowed from the pierced side of Jesus' body on the cross. Cardinal O'Malley pointed out that Mary was present at each of those moments.
"Our history begins with her 'yes,'" he said.
The cardinal said that the three most important prayers in the New Testament are prayers that say "yes" to God: Mary's "fiat," the Lord's Prayer, and Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane.
"The prayer of the Church is always about seeking conformity with God's will," he said.
Cardinal O'Malley said he likes to think that the abrupt ending of the book of Acts indicates that the Acts of the Apostles continue as the Holy Spirit guides the Church.
"It's our turn to be the protagonists here," he said.
As they celebrated this graduation, he said, they were "aware that the Lord is inviting us to be a part of this mission."
"Now it's our turn to take the Good News, to live it in such a coherent way that we will be able to announce that Jesus is risen and is in our midst," Cardinal O'Malley said.
He called the ceremony "not just a graduation but a sort of commissioning." He said their mission was "loving each other, forgiving each other, taking care of those in need, and joyfully witnessing to the resurrection of Jesus in the world, through word and deed."
"This is what your time in the MAM program has been preparing you for. And for that, we praise God," Cardinal O'Malley said.
Information about St. John's Seminary's lay formation programs is available at www.sjs.edu/layformation. Profiles of the 2021 graduates are also available at www.sjs.edu/news/lay-formation-programs-graduation.