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BRIGHTON -- As part of its commemoration marking its 20th anniversary of offering lay formation, St. John's Seminary has granted Distinguished Alumni Awards to five graduates of its lay degree programs in recognition of their service in evangelization.
The five alumni honored this year were Bonnie Rodgers, MAM '02, programming manager of CatholicTV; Jamie Cappetta, MAM '03, president of the Caruso Catholic Center in Los Angeles; Jaymie Stuart Wolfe, MAM '06, an author and editor of numerous books; Andreas Widmer, MAM '09, a business executive, former Swiss guard, and assistant professor at the Catholic University of America; and Elizabeth Cotrupi, MTS '18, the archdiocese's director of family life and ecclesial movements.
In a video released on the seminary's website and YouTube channel, Father Stephen Salocks, rector of St. John's Seminary, spoke about the creation of the Master of Arts in Ministry (MAM) program in 2000 and the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) program in 2011.
"St. John's Seminary committed itself to making its contribution to what is intrinsic to the ministerial priesthood, namely, to promote the baptismal priesthood of the entire people of God," he said.
Both degree programs were established to prepare the lay faithful to collaborate with the clergy and participate in the New Evangelization.
"We believe that the programs of lay formation at St. John's Seminary not only have fulfilled and continue to fulfill their purpose, but have helped prepare effective lay ecclesial ministers, men and women working in collaboration with bishops, priests, deacons and other laity, each responding to the charisms bestowed by the Holy Spirit. We are proud of our alumni, who have gone forth to give faithful witness to the Gospel and service to the Church in their various circumstances and ways of life," Father Salocks said.
Several of the award recipients also shared remarks, expressing gratitude to the seminary for this honor and acknowledging how their studies prepared them for the work they have done since earning their degree.
In his remarks, Cappetta recalled going through the MAM program around the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the clergy abuse scandal in the Church.
"Despite so much change, the only remaining constant has been Christ. The MAM program was my constant, my rock, my anchor that helped me find the confidence I needed to share the good news with those I serve," he said.
He now serves as president of the Caruso Catholic Center at the University of Southern California.
"Looking back on more than 20 years of working for the Church, both in college and youth ministry, it's clear to see how the MAM program laid the foundation for my career in service to the Church," Cappetta said.
He offered encouragement to current students as well as those considering the program.
Wolfe shared her remarks from New Orleans, Louisiana, where she and her husband now live. She has worked as an editor at three Catholic publishing houses, and recently left full-time employment to establish her own business providing editorial services.
She said that God has opened many doors for her, but her formation at St. John's Seminary brought her to each of those thresholds.
"Do not be afraid to begin the next chapter of your life, because God loves you, God has called you, and God will sustain you," Wolfe said.
In the same video, Father Salocks also recognized MAM/MTS director Dr. Aldona Lingertat for her leadership of the lay formation programs throughout their 20-year history. Prior to that, she had already worked for the seminary as a pastoral field education supervisor for the seminarians. When the MAM program launched, Lingertat served as the assistant director. In 2009, she became the director of the MAM, and later of all the lay programs.
"In many ways, you have been the soul of lay formation here at St. John's, and we are grateful for your presence and your work," Father Salocks said.
The full video of St. John's Seminary's presentation of the Distinguished Alumni Awards can be viewed at sjs.edu/distinguished-alumni. More information about St. John's Seminary's 20th anniversary of lay formation is available at sjs.edu/celebrating20.