St. Bernard’s celebrates its 42nd commencement - Catholic Courier
A woman receives her certificate during a commencement ceremony at St. Bernard's.

Anne Kraft is congratulated after receiving her graduate certificate in Catholic bioethics May 12 at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral. (Courier photo by Jeff Witherow)

St. Bernard’s celebrates its 42nd commencement

ROCHESTER — The 42nd commencement ceremony of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry was a twofold celebration for one of the graduates.

Anne Kraft received a master’s of arts degree in theological studies along with a graduate certificate in Catholic bioethics during the May 12 event at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

“It was extremely interesting. It was a lot of work,” said Kraft, who enrolled as a student at St. Bernard’s in 2020, taking courses mostly via the Zoom videoconferencing platform.

She was one of 16 people to receive advanced degrees from St. Bernard’s in theological studies, Catholic philosophy or pastoral studies. Kraft and five other candidates earned graduate certificates in either Catholic bioethics and catechetical leadership.

While most of the graduates represented the dioceses of Rochester, Albany, Buffalo and Syracuse, graduates in other dioceses who participated in classes via distance learning also were invited to attend commencement.

Board of trustees president reminds graduates that the journey is ongoing

The graduates processed into the cathedral with members of St. Bernard’s faculty and board of trustees, along with Bishop Salvatore R. Matano and Syracuse Bishop Douglas J. Lucia.

The ceremony began with Edward W. Kay Jr., chair of the board of trustees, welcoming the graduates and their families.

“You have undertaken a journey to look deeper into yourself and into your faith,” Kay told the graduates. “The journey is ongoing, but today marks an important point in that journey, you now look forward in a different way. You go forth in your pursuits, both lay and religious, with a better understanding of what it means to be a person of faith.”

Priest urges graduates to live out the vocations to which God called them

Father Eugene Ritz, chancellor of the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., and an adjunct professor at St. Bernard’s, delivered the commencement address on the theme of accompaniment. Referencing Dante’s Divine Comedy, he spoke about the three guides called to accompany Dante through inferno, purgatorio and paradiso.

Toward the end of his address, Father Ritz challenged the graduates to live in a new and deeper way the vocations to which God has called them, accompanying their brothers and sisters to their ultimate destinies.

“The highest love we have is for the God, who sacrificed himself for us. Receiving the fullness of God’s grace, may we return love to him abundantly, not only in what we say, but by the way we live this vocation, striving for the path and accompanying others toward it to the uncreated light,” he said.

Bishop Salvatore R. Matano conferred the degrees

Following the commencement address, Bishop Matano conferred degrees as Matthew Kuhner, St. Bernard’s vice president and academic dean, presented the graduates. Kuhner also called the names of graduates in absentia, including 27 students who will receive graduate certificates in evangelization during a summer symposium in Portland, Ore.

Graduate grateful for experience at St. Bernard’s

As she was taking photos with classmates and greeting her family following the commencement ceremony, Kraft told the Catholic Courier she will now be discerning what’s next for her. Kraft, who works in the library at St. Bernard’s, said she’s interested in becoming a certified librarian.

“I’m just so grateful to St. Bernard’s for this wonderful community that has been so supportive to me for the past three-plus years, and the friends that I’ve made here and the wonderful faculty and staff, and it’s just nice to be able to celebrate with them,” she remarked.

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