On May 15, 2014, after eight years of part-time study, I received my MA in Theology, with a concentration in systematics.
Our graduation was held in the beautiful central chapel of St. Mary’s Seminary and University, into which we (and the seminarians also graduating) were led by a piper playing music arranged for bagpipe and organ.
Because the Ecumenical Institute of Theology is part of St. Mary’s, my classmates and I received our diplomas from, and were congratulated by, the Archbishop of Baltimore and the President-Rector of the university, with the dean of the EI reading out our names and the assistant dean wrangling the diplomas.
Two honorary degrees were also bestowed; one of them was given to Rabbi Joel Zaiman, and the commencement address/sermon was given by Rev. Christopher Leighton. I was delighted by this, because I learned about the EI from an alumna I met at one of the wonderful programs offered by the Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies at a time when both men were active participants. Rabbi Zaiman presented at several of the ICJS programs I attended, and had a significant influence on my understanding of Judaism. So that nicely rounded out the completion of my theological journey.
Since my graduation ceremony was on a Thursday evening, I had a graduation party on the following Saturday afternoon. I had a lot of fun decorating the space and setting up a table showing off my accomplishments.
That open looseleaf binder holds my master’s thesis — all 120 pages of it — which was accepted and signed by my advisor and dean, Dr. Brent Laytham, and my second reader, Dr. James Buckley, earlier that week on Monday, May 12, prior to my non-defense. (I didn’t have to defend my thesis, but was given the opportunity to present and discuss it with both of them and some interested friends: all the good parts of a defense without the stress!) Also on display are my diploma and my award for outstanding theological achievement.
The first EI catalog I received didn’t have a picture of the school on the cover — instead, it featured a stack of theology books that clearly showed the ecumenical and academic nature of the program. I loved that picture, and I decided to show off a similar stack featuring some of the most significant books from my graduate studies:
Finally, I had a lot of fun making this visual representation of my journey, showing all the courses I took over the eight years. And since my thesis was in ecclesiology, what could be more appropriate than a path that led to a model church adorned with a diploma and mortarboard!
It has been a fabulous journey, and I’ve enjoyed almost every minute of it. The experience of studying theology with faculty and classmates of varying Christian traditions has been tremendously rewarding.
For the past two and a half years, I’ve shared much of that journey with you, my blog readers, and I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have! Your comments and questions have been helpful, encouraging, inspiring, challenging, and amusing, and I thank you for your good company and support.