St. John's Seminary confers 16 lay formation degrees

BRIGHTON -- In the company of friends, relatives, and teachers, 16 new graduates of St. John's Seminary's lay formation program received their diplomas during a Mass and commencement ceremony at the seminary on May 23.

Bishop Peter Uglietto was the principal celebrant and homilist of the Mass, which took place in the seminary chapel. Seminary Rector Father Stephen Salocks and Academic Dean Dr. Paul Metilly were also present. The faculty hooders were theology teachers Father Paul Ritt and Dr. Angela Franks. In addition, many parish priests were in attendance to support their parishioners in the graduating class.

The graduates included deacons, one religious sister, and several laypeople who work in various forms of education or ministry. Several of the graduates also participated in the liturgy, serving as lectors, assisting at the altar, and presenting the gifts.

Master of Arts in Ministry (MAM) degrees were conferred on Romanus Ajaero, Deacon Jared Auclair, Deacon Ronald A. Dowding, Deacon Anthony Foti, Deacon Joe Harrington, Peggy Higgins, Lynne O'Connor, Jessica Reynolds, and Deacon Peter Richardson.

Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degrees were received by Matthew Giles, Timothy Habeeb, Moira McCarty, Deacon Frank Perez de Alderete, Daniel Sousa, Sister Louise Marie Turner, MICM, and Nicolas Twaalfhoven.

Sister Louise Marie was chosen by her classmates to be the student speaker. In her remarks, she reflected on how the program had deepened their understanding of the faith and their zeal for evangelization.

She said it seemed "especially fitting" that they were graduating in May, a month dedicated to the Blessed Mother, and that the commencement ceremony took place in a chapel whose apse was decorated with an image of the apostles gathered around Mary at Pentecost.

"The apostles received the mission to share in Christ's work when they too received Mary as their mother at the foot of the cross," Sister Louise Marie said.

The ceremony was also significant as the last commencement under the direction of Dr. Aldona Lingertat, who was instrumental in starting the MAM/MTS program and has served as both a teacher and administrator for the programs. She is now stepping down from her role as director and will teach part-time as an adjunct faculty member.

Sister Louise Marie thanked Lingertat on behalf of the over 250 alumni who have graduated from the MAM/MTS program over its 22-year history. Sister Louise Marie joked that although Dr. Lingertat may never have said, "They have no wine," she had noticed and responded to students' needs "with a Mary-like attention to details."

In recognition of Lingertat's devotion to Mary and to her Lithuanian heritage, Sister Louise Marie presented her with an image of a Lithuanian Madonna, Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, as a token of the alumni's gratitude.

After the ceremony, the graduates and their guests enjoyed a reception in the seminary refectory.

"We had a wonderful graduating class with exceptional students, so this graduation for me is bittersweet as we send them off," Lingertat told The Pilot.

She said it was also bittersweet because it was her last graduation as director, but that she had been "so blessed."

"I've been surrounded by wonderful people, so I'm just grateful to God," she said.