Moravian Theological Seminary concludes 205th Academic Year
Commencement ceremonies marking the conclusion of the 205th academic year of Moravian Theological Seminary were held on Saturday, May 12, 2012. Nineteen students received degrees and certificates in front of several hundred of their friends and family at Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pa.
Remembering Moravian bishop and educator Jon Amos Comenius' philosophy of educating, "not the children of the rich or of the powerful only, but of all alike, boys and girls, both noble and ignoble, rich and poor, in all cities and towns, villages and hamlets," the seminary awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree to Father John P. Foley, Chair Emeritus of Cristo Rey Schools.
Fr. Foley's work and leadership in developing educational opportunities for economically disadvantaged students exemplifies the principles of Moravian education. A native of Chicago, Fr. Foley was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1967. After 34 years working in and leading Jesuit schools in Peru, Fr. Foley returned to Chicago to open and serve as president of a new Jesuit high school, Cristo Rey. Serving only economically disadvantaged students, Cristo Rey schools welcome youth of various faiths and cultures and offer a curriculum designed for high level engagement in learning.
A hallmark of the educational program centers on each student working five days each month in businesses and non-profit agencies helping students acquire marketable skills, develop a network of contacts and gain exposure to career opportunities. Today, Fr. Foley serves as Chair Emeritus of the Cristo Rey Network of 24 schools in 17 states, providing education to 6,500 young people living in urban communities.
In 2008, President Bush awarded Fr. Foley the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second highest honor for a civilian, for his commitment to helping his fellow citizens lead lives of integrity and achievement. In 2012, he was honored as part of President Obama's program recognizing Champions of Change for their service to their communities and to the nation. Eclipsing his awards is the witness of the lives of thousands of young people who have been empowered by their Cristo Rey experience to assume leadership roles in the civic, religious, business and cultural life of their communities and nation.
After receiving his award, Fr. Foley delivered a moving Commencement Address, which was met with a standing ovation. He encouraged the graduates to be creative with their gifts and look for new ways to attend to those who are most in need. He challenged that, "unless we learn to be creative, to take a risk, we tie the Holy Spirit's hands. The Spirit cannot work wonders among us if we are only about business as usual. We are all called to establish the Kingdom, nothing less. I exhort you today to accept the call of the King. No one else is going to miraculously appear to make the Kingdom come." The full text of his address can be found at www.moravianseminary.edu/news/spring12/Foley_Address.html
Six Moravians were among this year's graduates. From the Southern Province: Zach Dease
, a member of New Philadelphia Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, received the Cora Doster Moses Memorial Homiletics Prize for the best work done in preaching and practical pulpit work by a graduating senior. He will serve in leadership with the mission camp program at Laurel Ridge this summer as he awaits a call to serve the Moravian church.
After earning his MDiv degree from Wake Forest, Andrew Heil
received a Certificate in Moravian Studies from MTS. A member of Trinity Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, Andrew received the Rev. Elmer D. Bender Memorial Award given to an individual preparing for the Moravian ministry who displays outstanding pastoral qualities. Andrew's wife, Sarah Hubbard, also graduated from MTS this year, earning her Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling degree with cum laude honors.
A member of Konnoak Hills Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, Virginia Tobiassen
earned her Certificate in Moravian Studies after completing her MDiv from Wake Forest last year. Ginny has returned to her home in Winston-Salem and looks forward to ordained service with the Moravian Church.
Graduates from the Northern Province included:Ashley Alexander
, a member of Faith Moravian Church of the Nation's Capital, graduated from the dual degree program. She received her Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling degree from Moravian and a MSW degree from Marywood University in Scranton, Pa. Ashley has returned to the Baltimore area to pursue a social work position.
Originally from the Jamaican Province, Lloyd Gooden
, a member of John Hus Moravian Church in Brooklyn, earned his MDiv degree. Lloyd was awarded the Herman T. Frueauff Memorial Prize in Moravian History for his outstanding class work and research in the field of Moravian history. Lloyd has since received a call to Lebanon Moravian Church in Lebanon, Pa. and will be ordained July 22, 2012. Rhonda Robinson
, originally from Bilwi, Nicaragua, now a resident of Bethlehem, earned her MDiv degree and was elected by her peers as the senior speaker. Rhonda is currently working with her husband, Tracy, a 2006 graduate of the Seminary, with Esperanza for Bethlehem, a new ministry in the southern part of the city, as she looks forward to service in the Moravian church.
Continuing its rich heritage of ecumenism, students from denominations and faith traditions other than the Moravian church also earn degrees from Moravian Theological Seminary. Earning the Master of Divinity degree were Chris Druckenmiller
(Lutheran), Sarah Fernsler
(United Methodist), Comfort Fordjour
with a concentration in Formative Spirituality (nondenominational), Monica Guepet
(United Methodist), and Jaye Newbold
(Lutheran). Receiving the Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling degree were Jeannine Fogler
(Lutheran), Frances Folsom
(nondenominational), Comfort Fordjour, Patricia Hoyt
(UCC), and Alfred Jones III
(Christian Methodist Episcopal). The Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree was awarded to Bruce Marold
(Lutheran), Janet Mishkin
(Presbyterian), and Lori Van Keuren
(Christian Methodist Episcopal).
We joyfully recognize each graduate's dedication, hard work, and achievement as they move out of our doors and into the world to serve. Please join Moravian Theological Seminary in congratulating the Class of 2012!
Colleen Marsh is assistant to the Director of Administration for Moravian Theological Seminary. Photos by Colleen.