21 receive Theological Institute degrees


BRIGHTON -- Dressed in caps and gowns and surrounded by family and friends, the Theological Institute of the New Evangelization's class of 2018 received their diplomas during a May 22 commencement ceremony at St. John's Seminary in Brighton.

Graceanne Bowe, Stephen Cadigan, Scott Camilleri, Barbara Caroline Carey, Christina Carroll, Edward Domenick Ciampa, Sister Regina Frances Dick FSP, Joanne Lillian Donovan, Melissa Harrigan, David Hutchings, Howard Lotis, Elizabeth Murtha, and Ronna Petrilli earned a Master of Arts in Ministry, while Ryan Kenneth Bilodeau, Deacon Fran Burke, Elizabeth Cotrupi, Deacon Joseph R. Flocco Jr., Derek McDonald, Caitlin Medlar, Stephen Paul Mooney, and James Sierra earned a Master of Theological Studies for the New Evangelization.

The class, with a total of 21 graduates, was one of the Theological Institute's largest graduating classes. Dozens of loved ones filled the St. John's Seminary chapel where the ceremony was held, leaving standing room only.

The commencement address was given by president of Emmanuel College Sister Janet Eisner SND, who applauded the graduates' commitment to completing their degree, even as they raised families and worked full-time jobs.

She is filled with "anticipation," she said, "for all that you will do and be for others, in your parishes, communities, schools, and homes."

"Today, I encourage you to continue to reach out to parishes, CCD programs, classrooms, church services, and out into our culture," said Sister Janet to the graduates. Bring God's message to others, evangelize, she encouraged.

Yet, she said, take time to pray, and "please keep coming back to that place where you first heard the call. Keep discerning your deepest desires, and speak with pride about what is in your mind."

"In this way," she continued, "you will live out your commitment to joy."

Ronna Petrilli served as the student speaker. Speaking on behalf of her class, she began the address by offering thanks to the professors, family, friends, priests, and employers who supported the graduates throughout their schooling.

The Theological Institute, she said, has "prepared us well" in the mission of evangelization.

Noting the different backgrounds of those in her class, Petrilli said "all of us are called to share our many diverse talents," sharing them to "be like Christ in the world, bringing faith, hope, and love" to all they encounter.

"When others see us in the world, they will be so moved by our actions, they will seek the source of our valor, hope, and joy," she said.

Prayers, comments, and congratulations were offered by a number of ceremony leaders during the ceremony, including St. John's Seminary rector Msgr. James Moroney, St. John's Seminary vice rector and president of the Theological Institute Father Christopher O'Connor, director of the Master of Theological Studies Program Stephen Fahrig, and director of the Arts in Ministry Program Aldona Lingertat.

Msgr. Moroney presented the graduates their diplomas alongside Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley. The cardinal also offered the benediction, before the new graduates filed out of the chapel to pose for photos outside.

Speaking to The Pilot after the ceremony, Edward Domenick Ciampa, standing beside several friends and neighbors, said the Master of Arts in Ministry took him six years to obtain while taking classes part-time and he is happy and proud of his accomplishment.

A parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Chelmsford, Ciampa said it was the pastor at the time, Father Paul Ritt, who encouraged him to pursue the degree. Interested in healthcare, Ciampa said with his degree he will continue working at his parish, where he serves as a Eucharistic minister, and will continue "working with dementia patients" at a facility in Lowell.

"I enjoy that work very much, and I hope to approach some local hospital in the chaplaincy program," he said.

Graduate Caitlin Medlar said it was "still sinking in" that she finally has received her Master of Theological Studies.

She decided to pursue the degree "because I was at a point in my life where I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do going forwards, and I felt that God wanted me to study theology."

It took her "four or five years" to finish the program, and she currently is looking for "some volunteer opportunities" she can take advantage of during the summer. "I have a general direction," she said, "but on the specifics, I'm still looking for guidance."

The Theological Institute for the New Evangelization was begun in 2011 as a way for St. John's Seminary to further expand and better differentiate their programs for non-seminarians. The Institute built on the seminary's already established Masters of Arts in Ministry and catechetical certificate programs, and offered an additional advanced degree, a Master of Theological Studies for the New Evangelization.

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