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Saint Vincent Seminary Awards Honorary Doctorate to Jim Towey

Saint Vincent Seminary Awards Honorary Doctorate to Jim Towey January 27

LATROBE, PENNSYLVANIA — Twenty-nine degrees were awarded at Saint Vincent Seminary’s annual commencement held on Friday, May 7. Mr. Jim Towey, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, received an honorary Doctor of Human Letters.

Mr. Towey grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Accounting and Law.

He was a senior advisor to Republican U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield and Democratic Florida Governor Lawton Chiles. In 1993, Chiles appointed Towey to direct Florida’s health and social services agency – at that time the largest in the United States with 40,000 employees. Towey’s career in public service and his work in support of those in need have led to numerous honors, ranging from three honorary doctorates from universities to an award from Pope John Paul II.

Most significant in Towey’s life, however, was his work and friendship with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Towey met Mother Teresa in 1985, visiting her home for the dying -- an event he describes as the “defining moment” of his life. Towey went on to serve as legal counsel to Mother Teresa for 12 years and in 1990 lived as a full-time volunteer in her home for people with AIDS in Washington, DC. He had the privilege to travel on occasion with Mother Teresa and was sent by two U.S. Presidents to represent them at ceremonies in her honor in Calcutta and Rome.

He and his wife, Mary, have five children – all 12 and under.

Eighteen students received the Master of Divinity degree:

Alex Andrua, Diocese of Arua, Uganda; Fredy Angel, Diocese of Savannah; Arthur Bufogle, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston; Joseph Dougherty, Diocese of Erie; Eric Filmer, Diocese of Savannah; Neil Herlihy, Archdiocese of Atlanta; Br. Boniface Hicks, O.S.B., Saint Vincent Archahbbey; Stephen Kresak, Diocese of Pittsburgh; Br. Gabriel Landis, O.S.B., St. Benedict’s Abbey, Atchison, Kansas; Steven Neff, Diocese of Pittsburgh; Mary Ann Nicholls of Westmoreland City; Samuel Odeh, Via Christi Society, Diocese of Makurdi, Nigeria; John-Paul Otanwa, Via Christi Society, Diocese of Makurdi, Nigeria; Br. Anthony Pham; Michael Rothan, Diocese of Harrisburg; Christopher Turner, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston; David Vogel and Mark Weiss, Diocese of Harrisburg.

Nine students received the Master of Arts degree:

Br. Mark Floreanini, O.S.B., Saint Vincent Archabbey; Paul Girardi of Manor; Keith Heise, Diocese of Columbus; Br. Bruno J. Heisey, Saint Vincent Archabbey; John Mulcahy, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston; Samuel Odeh, Via Christi Society, Diocese of Makurdi, Nigeria; Chidi Osondu, Diocese of Savannah; Br. Mark A. Purcell, O.S.B., Mary, Mother of the Church Abbey, Richmond, Va.; and Mark Van Alstine, Diocese of Savannah.

One student received the Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree:

Kevin G. Poecking of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Awards were presented to four students:

Mark Van Alstine of the Diocese of Savannah received the Honorable Judge Bernard F. Scherer Award. The award is given to the student who most exemplifies the qualities evident in the life of Judge Scherer. Criteria include a breadth of learning, knowledge which allows one to integrate theology and the life of the People of God with academic areas, widsom and the ability to see the interconnectedness of all life, the practice of the corporal works of mercy, witness to faith and a hope-filled attitude.

Samuel Odeh of the Via Christi Society, Diocese of Makurdi, Nigeria, received the Sacred Scripture Award. The award is given to the graduating student who has demonstrated excellence in the study of Sacred Scripture.

Steven V. Neff of the Diocese of Pittsburgh received the Diakonia Award. Criteria for the award are academic performance, service to the community by upbuilding student morale and spirit, leadership and creative outreach.

Sean M. Francis of the Diocese of Pittsburgh received the Omer U. Kline, O.S.B., Homiletics Award. It is given to the fourth-year student who has most clearly demonstrated excellence in preaching during his fourth year of study.

ARCHDIOCESE OF ATLANTA

Neil J. Herlihy is the son of Grace Herlihy of Bronx, New York and the late Thomas Herlihy. He is a 1969 graduate of Cardinal Spellman High School, Bronx. He earned a bachelor of business administration degree in accounting from Iona College, New Rochelle, New York, in 1973. He earned a master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2004, with highest honors.

DIOCESE OF ARUA, UGANDA

Alex Andrua is a 1996 graduate of Dokea Seminary, Arua, Uganda. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy in 1999 from Alokolum National Major Seminary, Gulu-Uganda. In 2003 he earned the master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, with honors. In 2004 he earned the master of divinity degree from the Seminary, with honors.

DIOCESE OF COLUMBUS

Keith Heise is the son of John and Paula Heise of Lancaster, Ohio. He is a 1998 graduate of Bloom Carroll High School, Carroll, Ohio and earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Pontifical College Josephinum in 2002. He earned a master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2004, with high honors.

DIOCESE OF ERIE

Joseph V. Dougherty III is the son of Joseph V. and Edna May Dougherty Jr. of Willow Grove. He is a 1974 graduate of Upper Moreland High School in Willow Grove and obtained a degree in business from montgomery County Community College and Temple University in 1978. He earned a master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2004.

DIOCESE OF HARRISBURG

Michael W. Rothan is the son of Richard and Mary Anna Rothan of Strasburg, Pennsylvania. He is a 1991 graduate of Lancaster Catholic High School and earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from Shippensburg University in 1995. He also earned a teacher certification from Millersville University in 1996. In 2003 he received the master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, with high honors. He also received the Honorable Judge Bernard F. Scherer Award, given to the student who demonstrates a breadth of learning, knowledge which allows one to integrate theology and the life of the People of God with academic areas, wisdom and the ability to see the interconnectedness of all life, the practice of the corporal works of mercy, witness to faith and a hope-filled attitude. In 2004, he earned the master of divinity degree from the Seminary, with high honors.

Mark Weiss is the son of Edward and Kathy Weiss of Hershey. He is a 1992 graduate of Lower Dauphin High School and received a bachelor of science degree in human development and family studies from Penn State University in 1996. He earned the master of arts degree with honor from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2002. He received the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2004, with honors.

DIOCESE OF PITTSBURGH

Sean M. Francis, who received a master of divinity degree from the Seminary in 2003, this year received the Omer U. Kline Homiletics Award, awarded by the Rector’s Council to the fourth-year student who has most clearly demonstrated excellence in preaching. He is the son of Paul and Ann Francis of Allison Park, Pennsylvania. He is a 1990 graduate of North Allegheny High School, Wexford. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Duquesne University in 2000.

Stephen A. Kresak is the son of Andrew F. and Marie A. Kresak of McKees Rocks. He is a 1987 graduate of Sto-Rox high School and earned a degree in communications and philosophy from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, in 1998. He earned a master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2004.

Steven V. Neff is the son of Anthony J. and Roberta K. Neff of Chicora. He is a 1984 graduate of Butler Senior High School. he earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosphy/priestly formation from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, in 2001. In 2004 he earned the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary. He also received the Diakonia Award, a service award given by the faculty. Included in the criteria are academic performance, service to the community by upbuilding student morale and spirit, leadership and creative outreach.

Kevin Poecking is the son of Gordon Poecking of Hamburg, New York and Carol Poecking of Williamsville, New York. He is a 1986 graduate of Hamburg High School, Hamburg, New York. He earned a bachelor of science degree in math and industrial management from Carnegie Mellon University in 1990, a master of business administration degree in business from Robert Morris College in 1994 and a master of arts degree in philosophy from Duquesne University in 1999. He earned a master of arts degree with high honors from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2002. In 2004, he earned the bachelor of sacred theology degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, with high honors.

DIOCESE OF SAVANNAH

Fredy Angel is the son of Jose Alfonso and Eva Angel of Bogota, Colombia. He is a 1992 graduate of Tecnico Salesiano de Cundinomarca High School in Bogota. He also attended the Universidad Santo Tomas de Aquino in Bogota, majoring in philosophy and religion. He earned the master of divinity degree in 2004 from Saint Vincent Seminary.

Eric R. Filmer is the son of Charles H. Filmer of Savannah, Georgia, and the late Robin L. Harrison. He is a 1984 graduate of Hershel V. Jenkins High School, Savannah, Georgia. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology in 1997 from Armstrong Atlantic State University. He also attended Savannah College of Art and Design. In 2003 he earned the master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, with highest honors. He also received the Sacred Scripture Award, given to the graduating student who has demonstrated excellence in the study of Sacred Scripture. In 2004 he earned the master of divinity degree from the Seminary, with high honors.

Chidi Ezennia Osondu is the son of Luke Chijioke and Sussan Uzoamaka Osondu of Nigeria. He is a 1991 graduate of St. John of the Cross Seminary in Nigeria. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosphy from Claretian Institute of Philosphy in 1998. In 2004, he earned the master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, with highest honors.

Mark Van Alstine is the son of William L. and Marie A. Van Alstine of Augusta, Georgia. He is a 1983 graduate of Alleluia Community School, Augusta. He received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Clemson University in 1987 and also attended the University of South Carolina at Aiken. In 2004, he earned the master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, with highest honors. He also received the Honorable Judge Bernard F. Scherer Award, given to the student who most exemplifies the qualities evident in the life of Judge Scherer. Criteria include a breadth of learning, knowledge which allows one to integrate theology and the life of the People of God with academic areas, wisdom and the ability to see the interconnectedness of all life, the practice of corporal works of mercy, witness to faith and a hope-filled attitude.

DIOCESE OF WHEELING-CHARLESTON

Arthur Bufogle attended St. Mary’s International School in Tokyo, Japan, graduating in 1972. He studied biology at St. Bonaventure University, New York, from 1972 to 1974. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in biology from Walsh College, North Canton, Ohio in 1976. He received a master of arts degree in theology in 1985 from St. Michael’s College, Winooskie, Vermont; a master of science degree in soil science in 1988 from the University of Vermont, Burlington, and a doctorate in agronomy in 1996 from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He earned a master of divinity degree in 2004 from Saint Vincent Seminary, with high honors.

John P. Mulcahy is the son of George and Anne-Marie Mulcahy of Pittsburgh. He is a 1989 graduate of Canevin Catholic High School, Pittsburgh. He received a bachelor of science degree in business accounting from Saint Vincent College in 1996. In 2004, he earned the master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, with highest honors.

Christopher M. Turner is the son of David and Karen Turner of Bridgeport, West Virginia. He is a 1993 graduate of Bridgeport High School. He earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice/sociology from Fairmont State College, Fairmont, West Virginia, in 1997. In 2004 he earned the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary.

MARY MOTHER OF THE CHURCH ABBEY

Br. Mark A. Purcell, O.S.B., is the son of Frank X. and Christine T. Purcell of Codville, Ohio. He is a 1989 graduate of Parkersburg High School, Parkersburg, West Virginia. He earned a bachelor of science degree in education, with a major in mathematics, from Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, in 1994. In 2004, he earned the master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, with highest honors.

SAINT BENEDICT ABBEY, ATCHISON, KANSAS

Br. Gabriel A. Landis, O.S.B., is the son of Sam and Shirley Landis of Wichita, Kansas and the late Carole Landis. He is a 1981 graduate of Wichita East High School. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in finance from Wichita State University in 1986 and a master of arts degree in management from Webster University in 1994. In 2003 he received the master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, with high honors. In 2004, he earned the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, with honors.

SAINT VINCENT ARCHABBEY

Br. Mark L. Floreanini, O.S.B., is a son of the late Bruno and Betty Floreanini. He attended St. Joseph’s Elementary School, Alliance, Ohio; and is a 1974 graduate of West Branch High School, Beloit, Ohio. He received an associate degree in fine art from Sinclair Community College in 1987.He made his simple profession of vows on July 11, 1998, and solemn profession of vows on July 11, 2001. In 2003 he began studies at the Savannah College of Arts and Designs. In 2004, he earned the master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, with honors.

Br. Bruno D. Heisey, O.S.B., is the son of Jacob L. and Ina H. Heisey of Mechanicsburg. He is a 1984 graduate of Cumberland Valley High School. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in Latin and history from Dickinson College in 1988. He entered the novitiate at Saint Vincent Archabbey in July of 2001, and made his first vows on July 10, 2002. In 2004, he earned the master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, with highest honors.

Br. Boniface P. Hicks, O.S.B., is the son of William and Mary Hicks of Burke, Virginia and the brother of Michael Hicks of Philadelphia. He attended Grafton Bethel Elementary School, Silvergate Elementary School and Correia Junior High School. He is a 1993 graduate of Lake Braddock Secondary School, Burke, Virginia. He earned a bachelor of science degree in computer science and a master of science degree in computer science from Penn State University in 1997. At Penn State he was a member of the Tau Beta Pi Honor Fraternity and the Penn State Newman Club. He made simple profession of vows on July 9, 1999, and solemn profession on July 10, 2002. He earned a master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2003 and a master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2004, with highest honors.

VIA CHRISTI SOCIETY

Samuel Odeh is the son of Justina A. Odeh of Otukp, Nigeria and the late Boniface E. Odeh. He is a 1993 graduate of Mt. St. Gabriel’s Second School, Makurdi, Nigeria. He earned a bacheor of arts degree in philosophy from St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary, Makurdi, in 1998. In 2004 he earned the master of divinity and master of arts degrees from Saint Vincent Seminary, with honors. He also received the Sacred Scripture Award given to the student who has demonstrated excellence in the study fo Sacred Scripture.

John-Paul A. Otanwa is the son of Boniface and Patricia Otanwa of Makurdi, Nigeria. He is a 1996 graduate of Mount Saint Gabriel Secondary School, Makurdi. He has a B. Phil. from St. Thomas Acquinas Seminary in Makurdi, major seminary of thePontifical Urbanian University in Rome. In 2003 he received the master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, with highest honors. In 2004 he earned the master of divinity degree from the Seminary, with high honors.

MASTER OF ARTS

Paul Girardi is a native of Curwensville, now living in Manor, with his wife Michelle and their children, Hannah Ray and Anthony. Paul is a 1987 graduate of Dubois Central Catholic High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in history from Saint Vincent College in 1991. He also has taken education courses at California University of Pennsylvania. Paul is a supervisor at Adelphoi Village, Latrobe. He is the son of Norma Girardi and the late Raymond A. Girardi.

MASTER OF DIVINITY

Mary Ann Nicholls is a 1969 graduate of Butler Area Senior High School. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in humanities from LaRoche Colege, Pittsuburgh and a master of library science degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Science in 1987. She lives in Westmoreland City with her husband, David and they have three daughers, Jenna, Molly and Maura Nicholls. Mary Ann has worked as a campus minister at both Saint Vincent College and Duquesne University, and as a consultant for the Diocese of Greensburg. Many Ann is presently Director of the Spiritan Retreat Center in Bethel Park, PA. She earned the master of divinity degree in 2004 from Saint Vincent Seminary, with high honors.

David Vogel in 2004 earned the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary.

Br. Anthony Pham in 2004 earned the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary.

 



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