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Seminary marks 20 years of lay formation with online concert, auction

Some of the Patriots items, including a ball autographed by Julian Edelman, available during the seminary's online auction to be held Nov. 14 to noon on Nov. 22. Pilot photo/courtesy St. John's Seminary

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BRIGHTON -- St. John's Seminary will hold its 16th annual All Souls Memorial and Auction in a virtual format on Nov. 14, marking 20 years of lay formation programs at the seminary.

St. John's Seminary began offering its Master of Arts in Ministry (MAM) degree in 2000. Another degree, the Master of Theological Studies (MTS), was made available about a decade later. These master's degrees are open to laypeople, deacons, and professed religious. To date, over 250 people have graduated from these programs.

Ellen Oesterle serves as the administrative assistant for both degree programs. She herself graduated from the MAM class in 2009.

In a Nov. 3 interview, Oesterle said the annual All Souls Memorial concert is important because "we are able to gather together, even virtually, to remember our beloved deceased, including faculty, graduates, students, family, and those lost in the pandemic, as part of a worshiping faith community."

Oesterle also noted the 20th anniversary of the seminary's lay formation programs, saying the event will be "an opportunity to pause, give thanks to God, and move forward to helping form whole person servant-leaders."

The concert usually takes place in the chapel of St. John's Seminary. However, to protect the health of the seminary's residents during the coronavirus pandemic, this year the performers and speakers will offer their pieces from their homes in a virtual format. Many of them are students or graduates of the MAM and MTS.

The program will be hosted by Mario Costabile of Array of Hope and Bonnie Rodgers of CatholicTV. There will be musical performances from Howard Lotis, Cheri Kelley, Lorna DesRoses, Father Robert J. Blaney, and singers from Array of Hope.

The speakers will include Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, bishop of the Diocese of Providence, and Father Thomas Macdonald, vice rector of St. John's Seminary. Father Ed Riley, director of pastoral formation at the seminary, and Craig Gibson, co-chair of the Order of Malta in Boston, will discuss pastoral ministry and the experience of lay formation at St. John's Seminary. Aldona Lingertat, director of the MAM/MTS programs, and Mary Ann McLaughlin, director of spiritual formation at the seminary, will talk about remembering loved ones. Two seminary faculty members, Professor Janet Benestad and Dr. Michael Coughlin, will have a discussion about the history of praying for the dead.

In addition to the memorial concert, the seminary's annual auction will be held virtually, from 7 a.m. on Nov. 14 to noon on Nov. 22. Among the items up for auction is a football signed by New England Patriots player Julian Edelman. Others include dinner with seminary faculty members, time at nearby retreat houses, and items produced by local religious orders, such as chocolates from the Trappistine sisters in Wrentham and books from the Daughters of St. Paul.

"It's a great time to do some Christmas shopping that is supportive of our program and these monasteries and convents in the New England area," said Lingertat, the director of the MAM/MTS programs, in a Nov. 2 interview.

Additionally, she said, people can make donations to the seminary in honor of deceased family members.

"It would be a wonderful way to honor their memory and support St. John's Seminary's lay programs," Lingertat said.

Registration for the All Souls Memorial and Auction is free and available at www.sjs.edu/all-souls-memorial, along with previews of the auction items.

"We welcome you so that we can pray together, remember our beloved deceased, and look forward in hope to the future of lay formation at St. John's Seminary," Oesterle said.

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