Degrees Conferred at Seminary

Following a Moleben in honor of SS. Cyril and Methodius, patrons of the Seminary, Metropolitan Archbishop William, Archbishop of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, conferred diplomas upon two graduates of the Byzantine Catholic Seminary on May 11, 2012. Faculty, staff, family and friends were in attendance as diplomas were conferred upon Deacon Musil Shihadeh and Geoffrey Mackey.

Archbishop with graduates
Geoffrey and Deacon Musil with Archbishop William.

Deacon Musil Shihadeh, a seminarian from St. John the Baptist Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Northlake, IL completed four years of theology and received his Master of Divinity degree (MDiv) - cum laude. He summed up his four years of study and formation at the Seminary by saying: “Hard work is a necessary element for any vocation, but it needs to be joined with constant self-reflection to be effective. I endured a lot of challenges in my four years, not only academically, but personally. In attending Seminary, I have learned to be a better man and a better minister to others. While I still need to grow, I know that my zeal to work hard will never go away. And this zeal, present in me since I was small, has been and may be an inspiration for others in the future.”

Deacon Musil particularly enjoyed his study of Liturgy at the Seminary. He discovered through this study that life surrounding the worship of the ancient Christian was tedious and challenging.  However, he said that the more he studied Liturgy, the more he fell in love with the worship history of the Christians and began to make intimate connections with the past and their zeal.

Summer assignments in parishes in the Melkite Eparchy of Newton helped Musil to understand what parish life is truly like.  He commented that it was interesting to visit people in their homes and at the hospitals. Learning different styles of liturgy helped him realize that flexibility in ministry is a positive in order to meet the needs of the people. He considered this a good starting point to learn what his future life would be like.

When asked how his learning at the seminary will help in ministry, Musil replied: “Growth is possible and it comes with time andd experience. As a young man who is about to be ‘thrown to the wolves,’ so to speak, I learned that having patience with myself and others will help me develop my ministry and help me to continually grow in holiness. I also learned that a proper balance is necessary in one’s life: continued education helps stimulate and challenge one’s mind and development of leisure allows time for personal needs which help the mind to regroup. Furthermore, a life of prayer and discipline is inseparable from the priesthood, and the Seminary helped me build a stronger prayer life.”

Deacon Musil, his family and friends with Archbishop.

Some personal thoughts noted by Musil upon completing his years of study and formation are that he is proud that his vocation is becoming a reality. He clearly says that “it was a good road to take and I do not regret anything in my years here.” Deacon Musil will be ordained to the presbyterate in October, 2012. His hopes as he moves on to parish ministry are to motivate others in living a life of balance and courage, to encourage them to develop their relationship with God and to perform his ministry with zeal as he deepens his own relationship with God and with the people whom he serves. 

Geoffrey J. Mackey received a Master of Arts in Theology degree (MAT) – summa cum laude – with a concentration in Liturgical Theology. His thesis was entitled, “Today the Virgin is Present in the Church: Toward a Byzantine Liturgical Mariology.” Geoffrey is a parishioner of St. Nicholas Chapel in Beaver, PA. He and his wife, Erin, have two children, 6 year old Gabriel and 6 month old, Alexandra.

When asked what made him decide to pursue an MAT degree, Geoffrey answered, “I was particularly interested in sacramental and liturgical theology, primarily the Eastern approach to the sacramental mysteries. When I learned that the Seminary’s MAT program had a concentration in Liturgical Theology, it didn’t take me long to decide to pursue it. I started out as a non-matriculated student, but within a couple of weeks, I realized that I was at ‘home’ and decided to formally apply for the MAT.”

Geoffrey came to the Seminary as an Anglican, interested in sacramental theology and the Eastern Christian tradition. Although he had been studying Eastern Christianity independently for several years beforehand, he says that: ‘...after my first year of studies at the Seminary, I discerned that God was calling me to join the Byzantine Catholic Church. I was chrismated by Fr. John Petro at St. Nicholas Chapel in Beaver, PA in September 2009. So my experience at the Seminary has been transformative in more than one way.”

Geoffrey, his family and friends with Archbishop.

Geoffrey summarizes his years of study at Byzantine Catholic Seminary: “My time at the Seminary has been rewarding both academically and spiritually. I feel that I have grown both as a theological thinker and as a disciple of Christ. I also feel that, as important as my academic experience has been, the availability of the faculty for spiritual guidance has been paramount.” He also explains that his courses in Byzantine spirituality and in the Divine Liturgy were rewarding because of their relevance to the day-to-day life of the Christian person.

As the Director of Distance Learning for Trinity School for Ministry, an Anglican seminary in Ambridge, PA, Geoffrey feels that his degree from the Seminary will assist him as he plans to continue working in graduate theological education which he finds to be very rewarding. For the future, Geoffrey said that he feels a particularly strong call to work ecumenically, “What that might look like in the future, I do not know, but I care very deeply about Christian unity and building bridges with ‘separated brethren’ for the sake of the Gospel.” He is presently a Deacon Candidate for the Archeparchy and believes that if by God’s grace he is ordained, his education in the MAT program will be helpful for teaching and preaching roles. Geoffrey is also discerning whether further graduate work in theology is on the horizon.

 

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