University of St. Mary of the Lake commencement, ordinations on hold

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary has delayed ordinations and rites of calling, and canceled graduation for its students in various programs.

The university’s planned May 2 convocation was canceled entirely, according to the provost, Father Thomas Baima. The convocation is when the university confers everything from graduate degrees in theology to certificates in lay ecclesial leadership, including the academic degrees earned by men who are going to be ordained to the priesthood and permanent diaconate.

A March 27 announcement said that the university had planned to confer 211 degrees and certificates this year. Students who completed their work with distance learning were to receive their diplomas by mail, Baima said.

The ordinations of seven priests for the Archdiocese of Chicago, 14 transitional deacons and 30 permanent deacons will take place at an undetermined future date, as will the calling rite for lay ecclesial ministers.

While the seminary leaders and the directors of all the university’s institutes are eager to find ways to celebrate the class of 2020, that can’t be the first priority, Baima said.

“Right now, we’re just trying to keep people safe, and that’s got to be job one,” he said.

Nearly every diocese that sends seminarians to Mundelein also has postponed ordinations, Baima said.

“Ordinations are not fundamentally about the individual, fundamentally they’re about the church,” he said. “Similarly, the calling rite for lay ecclesial ministers. It is an accomplishment for the individual, but because we are doing ministry formation, each of these ceremonies also belongs to the people of the church. It realty doesn’t make sense to do a private ceremony. The ecclesial dimension really is lost.”

Baima said that in addition to celebrating the graduates, he wants to congratulate all the students, faculty and staff who managed to finish the semester using e-learning while sheltering at home.

“The faculty has worked awfully hard to make these adaptations, and it’s worked, and that’s something I want to celebrate,” he said. “‘People rose to the occasion.”


  • ordination
  • mundelein seminary
  • coronavirus
  • usml

Related Articles