On the evening of Friday, May 16, Solemn Vespers and the Conferral of Degrees for nineteen students of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception took place in the priory chapel of the Dominican House of Studies. A crowd of faculty, staff, members of the Board of the Overseers, as well as family and friends filled the chapel.
The following degrees were conferred: four Masters of Arts in Theology; three Masters of Divinity; seven Bachelors of Sacred Theology; and five Licentiates in Sacred Theology. The graduating class consisted of ten Dominican Friars, two Marians of the Immaculate Conception, one Josephite, one diocesan priest, and four lay men and women. Degrees were presented by Very Rev. Brian Martin Mulcahy, O.P., Vice Chancellor, Prior Provincial; Very Rev. John A. Langois, O.P., President of the Pontifical Faculty; and Rev. Thomas Petri, O.P., Vice President and Academic Dean.
The Commencement Address was given by Dr. Robert Louis Wilken, the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor Emeritus of the History of Christianity at the University of Virginia. Dr. Wilken reflected on the words “faithful” and “stewards” from the 4th chapter of 1 Corinthians. Dr. Wilken is an internationally esteemed scholar and author who has taught at Gregorian University, Institutum Patristicum “Augustinianum,” Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Notre Dame, Fordham University, and Lutheran Theological Seminary.
In addition to the conferral of degrees, a number of special recognitions were made. Dr. Wilken received the St. Dominic Medal. The Fr. Lawrence Francis Kearny Award was given to Fr. Raymond Vandegrift, O.P. (STB ’59, STL ’62), who headed the Library for some twenty-six years. Rev. Br. Cajetan Cuddy, O.P., (MDiv ’12, STL ’14) was awarded the Marie Jackie Brunetta Burse, which was established in memory of the mother of Fr. Juan-Diego Brunetta, O.P. (MDiv ‘99). The burse is given annually to a Dominican brother ordained to the diaconate, who demonstrates either sustained excellence or marked-improvement in liturgical preaching. Special mention was made of Fr. Mulcahy’s service as Prior Provincial.
Following the ceremony, the guests adjourned to the priory cloister for a reception.