Scripture Scholar and St. Louis Native to Serve as Commencement Speaker
Aquinas Institute of Theology will confer graduate degrees and graduate certificates on 48 women and men in a commencement ceremony at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 8, at St. Francis Xavier (“College”) Church, Grand and Lindell Boulevards. St. Louis native Fr. Benedict Thomas Viviano, O.P., professor emeritus at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland), will be the commencement speaker. The commencement is open to the public.
Of the 48 students graduating, 11 will receive a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree in Preaching; 2 will receive a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree; 8 will receive a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Theology degree; 19 will receive a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (M.A.P.S.) degree; 2 will receive the dual M.A.P.S./Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) degrees; 4 students will receive Graduate Certificates in Spiritual Direction and 2 will receive Graduate Certificates in Spiritual Direction with the M.A.P.S. degree. The graduates include 43 lay students and 5 members of religious communities.
In addition to the conferral of academic degrees, Aquinas Institute of Theology will award honorary degrees (Doctor of Humane Letters) to the following individuals:
- Benedict Thomas Viviano, O.P., Professor Emeritus, University of Fribourg (Switzerland). Father Viviano, a member of the Chicago Province of the Dominican Order, is a New Testament scholar and author. Prior to retirement in 2008, Father Viviano taught for 11 years at Ecole Biblique, for 12 years at Aquinas Institute of Theology, and was a professor of New Testament at the University of Fribourg where he taught since 1995. Father has also served as vice president of the Tantur Ecumenical Institute for Theological Studies (Jerusalem). Best known for his book The Kingdom of God in History, Father Viviano is also the author of the St. Matthew section of the New Jerome Biblical Commentary.
- Mary Antona Ebo, F.S.M., Founding Member and Past President, National Black Sisters Conference. One of the first three African American women to enter the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, Sister Ebo has earned degrees in medical records administration, hospital executive development and theology. A former Catholic hospital executive director, Sister also worked for six years as a chaplain at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She has also served on the Human Rights Commission for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and was awarded the Heschel-King Award by St. Louis Jews for Justice. In 2000, Sister Ebo received the Living Legend Award from the State of Alabama where, in 1965, she courageously marched in support of civil rights for all Americans.
- Suzanne Noffke, O.P., Catherinian Scholar and Author. A member of the Dominican Community of Racine Wisconsin, Sister Noffke earned a doctorate in general linguistics from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and is currently affiliated with the Department of History of the University of WisconsinParkside, as a Scholar in Residence. Sister Noffke has been immersed in the life and thought of Catherine of Siena for more than 30 years, and has published translations all of Catherine’s works as well as numerous essays on the saint, and has lectured widely and conducted retreats based on the life and thought of Saints Catherine and Dominic.
- Carol Williams, M.D., Physician and Former Member of Aquinas Institute Board of Trustees. Dr. Williams’ active practice of medicine spanned 40 years and encompassed general obstetrics and gynecology, gynecologic-oncology, pediatric and adolescent gynecology, and provision of women’s health services in community heath and public settings. She has held staff memberships at Barnes and Allied Hospitals, St. Luke’s Hospital (where she was chief of the Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology), and St. Louis Children’s and Cardinal Glennon Hospitals. She is a past president of the St. Louis Metropolitan Medical Society and the Missouri State Medical Association, and served on the Missouri State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts. Dr. Williams completed a M.A.P.S. degree and graduate certificates in Pastoral Care, Spiritual Direction, and Preaching at Aquinas Institute.
Aquinas Institute of Theology, sponsored by the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), is the only Catholic institution in the world offering a Doctorate in preaching. While most students are Catholic, Protestants also study at Aquinas Institute. Students represent communities that stretch from coast to coast, and from as far away as Africa and South America.