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Sacred Heart Celebrates 59 Graduates During 99th Commencement Exercises

by Karla Dorweiler

Graduates, family, friends, and faculty gathered on Saturday for the 99th Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement in the Sacred Heart Major Seminary main chapel.

59 men and women earned certificates, diplomas and degrees from Sacred Heart’s College of Liberal Arts and the School of Theology. Fr. Stephen Burr, Rector and President of the seminary, conferred the honors following the Baccalaureate Mass.

Honors included one Alumnus Certificate, 15 Certificates in Catholic Theology (CCT); one Basic Diploma in Catholic Theology (BD); three Associates of Arts in Ministry (AAM); one Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Theology (ABT); one Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy (ABP); seven Bachelors of Philosophy (B.Phil.); eight Masters of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS); two Masters of Arts in Theology (MA); 13 Masters of Divinity (M.Div.); 13 Baccalaureates in Sacred Theology (STB); five Licentiates in Sacred Theology (STL).

Fr. Zach Mabee delivered the homily for the Mass, reminding graduates the anonymous quote found in many Catholic schools: “Be it known to all who enter here that Christ is the reason for this school. He is the unseen but ever-present teacher in its classes. He is the model of its faculty and the inspiration of its students.”

Fr. Mabee shared his hope that Catholic educational institutions be a “life-giving, heart-enflaming, and mind-illuminating encounter with the king of the universe.”

“This place has a purpose, brothers and sisters, and it is that the God man would be honored and glorified, and that His name and saving grace would heard, known, and received by the people that were sent to serve,” said Fr. Mabee.

Noting that many colleges and universities are no longer united in their sense of purpose and mission, Fr. Mabee suggested that Sacred Heart remains “on mission.”

“Thanks be to God that our principle of unity – our cornerstone who was rejected by the builders, Our Lord Jesus Christ – is ever-present for us here,” said Fr. Mabee. “And not just in the words of the mission statement…He is present with us in word and in sacrament every day, here in these hallowed halls.

Tying his message to Sacred Heart’s mission statement, Fr. Mabee said, “All of us who serve at and are dispatched from this place are to be about the work of the New Evangelization.”

Following the Mass, Archbishop Vigneron presented the diplomas and degrees to graduates.

Charlie Robeck, who received a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), started taking one class per semester in 2015 as he was discerning the permanent diaconate. In 2019, he was accepted into aspirancy for the diaconate. This October, he’ll be ordained a deacon for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

“Being a student at Sacred Heart is challenging. It’s a lot of work but well worth it,” said Robeck, who is an engineer at Ford. “My wife has been so supportive in taking care of our family while I’ve been taking classes. I’ve learned so much here, in an environment with people who have a similar mindset and worldview.”

Robeck says the Homiletics class he took in his last semester, as with all of his courses over the past nine years, will serve him well in his ministry as a permanent deacon. The class helped him connect theology with active ministry in a new way.

In addition to his inspiring professors, the chapel at the seminary played a key role in Robeck’s formation and discernment.

“The chapel itself was part of my discernment when I was deciding if I should apply and when,” said Robeck. “I remember sitting there in the fall of 2018 as I was getting ready to apply and praying if this was the time, and what God giving me back was ‘just trust.’ That’s when I knew it was the right thing.”

Patti Tischbein took Sacred Heart’s Equip classes – free short courses offered online – and then decided to pursue a Certificate in Catholic Theology (CCT). Her husband, Geoff Tischbein, followed suit about a year later. Patti completed her CCT online, while Geoff took online and in-person classes.

On days when Geoff had class at the seminary, he met with his seminarian classmates for lunch or coffee. Some of the Companions of the Cross seminarians even invited him to their retreats.

“They taught me so much, and I would ask them so many questions,” said Geoff. “Every one of them changed my life – every seminarian, everything they invited me to, every professor, every class. I was being changed, unbeknownst to me. But I can see it now.”

The Tischbeins plan to use the knowledge gained from their classes to help people in the recovery community through ongoing volunteer work.

“We hope to help them find their way back to God,” said Patti. “This has given us a better foundation and ways to share our faith. I feel like people see the change in us, and this is going to help us evangelize more.”

Fr. Mabee challenged graduates to bring Christ to others as they leave Sacred Heart.

“Let us cleave to Him and seek to make Him known and loved,” Fr. Mabee said in closing. “Let us allow Him to invigorate our hearts and minds. May He be known, honored, and lifted high in these halls, especially by those of you who proceed forth from it, now and always. Praise be Jesus Christ.”

by Karla Dorweiler

Karla Dorweiler

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.