WASHINGTON — The Washington Theological Union, which announced late last year it would be ceasing operations one year earlier than planned, held its 43rd and final commencement exercises on May 4. It was one of two recent events at the institution celebrating its mission.
Among the 50 some students — one of the largest graduating classes of recent years — receiving degrees and certificates were several Holy Name friars. Frank Critch, OFM, Stephen DeWitt, OFM, and Daniel Horan, OFM, received master’s of divinity degrees; Ross Chamberland, OFM, received a master of theological studies degree; and Gerald Hopeck, OFM, received a graduate certificate in theological studies.
Daniel, selected as the 2012 James A. Corident Valedictor, gave the valedictorian address at the ceremony, which began at 2:30 at Trinity Washington University. Former WTU president Vincent Cushing, OFM, delivered the graduation address and received the union’s Distinguished Service Award. Vincent has been associated with the WTU since its inception in 1968; he was president for 24 years.
In addition, the WTU hosted its final symposium, “Celebrating the Mission: Commemorating 44 Years of Service to the Church” on April 19 and 20. More than 200 people — including past and present faculty, staff and board members — attended the two-day event.
“All were eager to share with one another their memories and experiences at the union,” said Kerry Turner, director of communications. “The celebration began with an evening service in the union’s award-winning Connelly Chapel of Holy Wisdom, which included an inspiring reflection by Fr. James Wallace, CSSR, encouraging the community to be heartened in the knowledge that God does not leave us comfortless.”
Among the second day’s activities was an address by WTU graduate and associate professor at Boston College, Kenneth Himes, OFM.
Attendees received a commemorative book, Our Gift to the Future: WTU’s Contributions to Theology and Ministry. The book includes a note from the Province: “We are grateful to the Washington Theological Union for providing our friars with a quality education that has helped us respond effectively to the needs of the People of God in our contemporary world. We are proud to have been part of the history of the WTU. Your legacy will continue in the lives and ministries of many.”
The WTU will continue its doctor of ministry program as well as continue to grant master’s degrees and certificates as students complete requirements until Dec. 31, 2013.
— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
Editor’s note: The photo with this article shows Frank, Daniel and Stephen. Additional photos of the graduation are available on WTU’s Facebook page.