BRIGHTON -- When the 11 graduates of this year’s Master of Arts and Ministry Program sat down to plan their May 23 commencement, they spent the entire evening reflecting on all the people who had assisted in their faith formation, said Aldona E. Lingertat, associate director of the MAM Program.
“This is a class that exhibits gracious gratitude,” she said during the graduation ceremony at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton.
Lingertat spoke of three of the graduates individually, saying that they represent the wider class. Darren Boehm is a catechist and member of his parish council who drove an hour one way for every class he attended. Karen Coughlin attended the MAM Program’s first class in 2000 and then completed her undergraduate degree before enrolling in the program. Dorothy Ruggiero was a missionary to India for 13 years and now serves as a pastoral associate at St. Joseph Parish in Quincy.
The student speaker, Patricia O’Connor, spoke with great admiration for her fellow classmates who she cared for and was cared for by during their studies.
“I have been shown Christ’s face through my classmates,” she said.
As laity, the graduates are led by the Holy Spirit to work for the sanctification of the world as leaven, she said.
“With prayers, sacraments and Scripture and our faith, hope and charity, we go with confidence,” she added.
Father Richard Erikson, vicar general and moderator of the curia, gave the commencement address. He began his comments by saying that the archdiocese’s humble Franciscan friar, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, has used technology to connect with the faithful through his blog and podcasting.
Father Erikson said he received an iPod as a gift to keep up with the cardinal’s podcasts. When he was charging it for the first time, he saw a message on the screen in a foreign language. He disconnected the iPod and attempted to find the translation. After much effort, he discovered that the message said, “Do not disconnect.”
Over 20 million people own iPods and some say that the “i” in iPod means “I don’t want to speak to you,” he added.
The new generation is increasingly plugged into its own world. Many embrace the spiritual but run from anything religious. They search for comfort and strength in all the wrong places, he said.
Catholics need to bring Christ to the world that is in deep need of transformation. In order to do that, they must be in sync with Christ and His Church, like an iPod syncs with a computer. They need to download information like an iPod downloads songs and continually refresh their knowledge, rebooting when necessary, he said.
“My plea to you is that no matter what you do, do not disconnect,” Father Erikson concluded.
After Father Erikson’s comments, each degree recipient was called forward and handed a diploma by Father John Farren, OP, rector of the seminary. They then shook his hand and Cardinal O’Malley’s hand.
The ceremony concluded with the final blessing, given by the cardinal.
“This is always such an uplifting occasion because everyone here realizes that this is not just an academic exercise,” he said. “Your presence here betokens a very deep faith and your love for Jesus Christ and His Church, and that is a great sign of hope, a witness to all of us.”
Cardinal O’Malley exhorted the graduates to use their individual gifts to build up the body of Christ.
Following the ceremony, graduates gathered with family, friends and faculty at a reception.
Ann Carroll, director of religious education at Most Precious Blood Parish in Dover, said that the education she received from the MAM Program has challenged her. Studying has been hard on her family because she has spent many evenings at class or working on assignments. But it has also been very rewarding, she said.
“The spiritual formation allowed me to grow closer in my relationship with Christ so that I could lead others closer to Christ,” she said.