Like so many public events in this springtime like no other in memory, the annual Concursus academic graduation ceremony at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary was conducted online.

The ceremony was held in the seminary’s Vianney Hall auditorium led by seminary leadership and Archbishop Nelson Perez with a handful of seminarians sitting at a social distance, as visible in the livestreamed video presentation on the seminary’s website and Facebook page.

The seminary’s rector, Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Senior, called it “an extraordinary concursus, the first ever livestreamed.”

But “our love and our joy” for the graduating seminarians as well as the religious and lay people completing their studies in seminary programs “is no less diminished. We are very proud of you.”

As the highly infectious and deadly coronavirus spread through the country and the world this spring, in March administrators of St. Charles Seminary decided to dismiss seminarians to their homes and offer classes and the program of priestly formation online. Only several seminarians from distant countries or for other reasons remained on the Wynnewood campus.

“Two months to the day our program continued online,” Bishop Senior said. “We dispersed but by God’s grace we stayed together.”

(Watch the full video of the 33-minute ceremony below:)

The bishop thanked the seminary’s staff for their creative work, and discussed the transitions of seminarians moving on to ordination, or to service and study in their home dioceses or to other pursuits.

Those transitions included seminary faculty and leaders.

Father Joseph Shenosky, the seminary’s vice rector, director of pastoral and apostolic formation and a formation advisor, will end his nine-year tenure this spring as he anticipates the announcement of his appointment as pastor of a parish in the archdiocese, Bishop Senior announced.

Named as the new vice rector is current seminary faculty member Father Patrick Brady. He is currently the dean of the School of Theological Studies and dean of the School of Diaconal Formation. He will be succeeded in the roles respectively by seminary professors Father Gregory Fairbanks and Msgr. Michael Magee.

Following Bishop Senior’s remarks and his formal declaration of the conferral of degrees by the seminary, Father Shenosky and Father Robert Pesarchick announced the recipients of degrees in all the seminary’s programs, plus winners of various awards for academic achievement and service — see the full list below.

Archbishop Perez said in his remarks that “the last time I attended concursus was my own. It was not like this, and it was a bit longer.”

He earned his master’s degree in theology before his ordination as a Philadelphia priest in 1989 and became the first alumnus of St. Charles to be named archbishop of Philadelphia since Archbishop (later Cardinal) Dennis Dougherty in 1918.

He also was installed during a time of pandemic, with the so-called Spanish influenza that broke with deadly force that year. 

St. Charles seminarians “were deployed into the world with a shovel,” Archbishop Perez said, noting the seminarians of that time volunteered to dig graves for the thousands who died in Philadelphia from that viral plague.

“You will never forget this last semester in your academic journey,” the archbishop told the graduates. “You will join hundreds of thousands of men and women going through the same thing. While it’s been disruptive for all of us, embedded in this is a message from the Lord for all of us.”

Archbishop Perez called to mind three concepts for the seminarians and lay graduates to ponder.

The first was gratitude to the Lord. The second was service.

“When you look at your diploma, see what called you here in the first place — to serve the Lord and the church,” Archbishop Perez said. “Unlike other pursuits, your time here at St. Charles Seminary was in a context. The reason you are here is that you listened to the call of God in your heart.” 

Lastly, he expressed his own “gratitude for your willingness to embrace that call in your hearts.” 

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The following seminarians received the Bachelor of Arts degree:

Jose Luis Batista Castillo, Oblates of St. Joseph; Juan Pablo Builes Hernandez, Archdiocese of Philadelphia (magna cum laude); Keaton Christopher Eidle, Diocese of Allentown (cum laude); 

Omeed E. Huemiller, Diocese of Raleigh (cum laude); Brian D. Meinders, Diocese of Trenton (summa cum laude); Pedro Raul Ramirez, Archdiocese of Philadelphia; Tyler J. Roman, Diocese of Harrisburg (cum laude); Jacob Elias Sanz, Archdiocese of Philadelphia (magna cum laude); Aaron Ryder Scheidel, Diocese of Allentown (summa cum laude); Drew Elliott Tanguay, Diocese of Harrisburg (summa cum laude).

Several awards were presented for the College Division.

Aaron Ryder Scheidel, Diocese of Allentown, received the Monsignor George E. O’Donnell Award for Excellence in the Study of English Literature, the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary Award for Excellence in the Study of Philosophy, and the Reverend John Whalen Dougherty Award for Excellence in the Study of Latin.

Keaton Christopher Eidle, Diocese of Allentown, received the Monsignor Patrick J. Garvey Award for Excellence in the Study of History, the Saint John Neumann Award for the seminarian in Fourth College who has demonstrated the highest degree of commitment to the development of the spirit of fraternity among his brother seminarians during the course of his time in the College Seminary given by the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary Priest Alumni Association, and the Brandon W. Bentz Award for Extraordinary Service to Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary.

Tyler J. Roman, Diocese of Harrisburg, received the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary Award given to the seminarian in Fourth College who best combines academic achievement and service to the seminary.

Omeed E. Huemiller, Diocese of Raleigh, received the Monsignor Vincent L. Burns Award for Excellence in the Study of Spanish given by the Saint Charles Borromeo Lay Alumni Society.

Juan Pablo Builes Hernández, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, received the Monsignor Richard T. Bolger Award for Excellence in Field Education, College Seminary, given by the American Catholic Historical Society.

Sean L. Keeley, Diocese of Raleigh, received the CatholicPhilly.com Award in Communications for the College seminarian who has demonstrated outstanding work in the field of communications during the current year of formation.

The following pre-theology seminarians, who have satisfied the intellectual formation prerequisites necessary to enter the theological seminary, received their letters of completion and earned the Master of Arts in philosophical studies degree: Joseph Gabriel Buchheit, Diocese of Harrisburg; Emmanuel Carreño García, Diocese of Arlington; Philip Cheung, Archdiocese of Philadelphia; James Ryan Joseph, Diocese of Arlington; Kevin Christopher Roch Kelly, Diocese of Arlington; and Brendan R. Zehner, Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

The following seminarians received the Master of Divinity degree: Kenneth Luke Cavara, Archdiocese of Philadelphia (summa cum laude); Steven Thomas DiMassimo, Diocese of Raleigh (summa cum laude); John Paul J. Heisler, Diocese of Arlington (summa cum laude); Aaron M. Lynch, Diocese of Harrisburg (summa cum laude); Philip James Maas, Diocese of Allentown (summa cum laude); Prodip Philip Mrong, Diocese of Mymensingh, Bangladesh; Eric Sanchez, C.M., Congregation of the Mission, the Vincentians (magna cum laude); Jonathan M. Smith, Diocese of Arlington (magna cum laude); Tyler A. Sparrow, Diocese of Raleigh; Mark Andrew Tobin, Archdiocese of Philadelphia (magna cum laude).

The following received the Master of Arts in Theology degree: Gertrude Theresa Bennett (summa cum laude); Janet Y. Cosby; Sister Victoria Marie Edge, O.P. (summa cum laude); Deacon Jonathan Patrick Hess; Christopher J. Hilden (magna cum laude); Caleb Daniel Hile, Diocese of Lincoln (summa cum laude); Jairo Alberto Maldonado Pacheco, Diocese of Raleigh (summa cum laude); Stephen J. Martino (summa cum laude); Louis Joseph Monica Jr., Archdiocese of Philadelphia (summa cum laude); Mark David Nowakowski (magna cum laude);  Kevin Chinonye Okafor, Archdiocese of Philadelphia (cum laude); Alec Jeffrey Sasse, Diocese of Lincoln (summa cum laude); August Albert Taglianetti, Archdiocese of Philadelphia (summa cum laude); Nicol Christine Verna (cum laude); Thomas N. Verna, D.MD. (magna cum laude);

Sister M. Emily Vincent, I.H.M. (summa cum laude); Margaret Anne Watkins (summa cum laude); and Reverend Zachary Robert Wehr, Diocese of Allentown (summa cum laude).

Monetary awards for excellence in homiletics were given by the Serra Club of Philadelphia to the following: Victor R. Espinoza, Oblates of St. Joseph, the John J. Hallinan Award for Excellence in Homiletics, First Theology; Christopher T. Massaro, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Joseph Fricker Award for Excellence in Homiletics, Second Theology; John Paul J. Heisler Diocese Arlington, the Joseph Howard Tyson, Jr. Award for Excellence in Homiletics, Third Theology.   

Other awards in the Theology Division included:

Alec Jeffrey Sasse, Diocese of Lincoln, the Matthew H. McCloskey, III Award for Excellence in Homiletics, Fourth Theology, the Saint John Neumann Award for Excellence in the Study of Systematic Theology over the past seven semesters, the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary Award for Excellence in the Study of Moral Theology over the past seven semesters and the Monsignor John J. Miller Award for Excellence in the Study of Sacred Liturgy;

August Albert Taglianetti, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Bishop Francis E. Hyland Award for Excellence in Field Education given by the Saint Charles Borromeo Lay Alumni;

Kenneth Luke Cavara, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Monsignor Joseph A. Quigley Award for the outstanding seminarian in Third Theology who has shown achievement in Academics, Activities, and Leadership given by the Knights of Columbus Council 196;

Caleb Daniel Hile, Diocese of Lincoln, the Monsignor James P. McCoy Award for Excellence in the Study of Church History over the past seven semesters given by the American Catholic Historical Society, and the Roman Catholic High School Alumni Association Award for Excellence in the Study of Sacred Scripture over the past seven semesters;

Louis Joseph Monica Jr., Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Saint John Neumann Award for the seminarian in Fourth Theology who has demonstrated the highest degree of commitment to the development of the spirit of fraternity among his brother seminarians during the course of his time in the Theological Seminary given by the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary Priest Alumni Association.