Fr. Paul Sullivan, vocations director for the Diocese of Phoenix, delivers the homily at the Baccaluereate Mass May 14. (Photo courtesy of the Pontifical College Josephinum)
Fr. Paul Sullivan, vocations director for the Diocese of Phoenix, delivers the homily at the Baccalaureate Mass May 14. (Photo courtesy of the Pontifical College Josephinum)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Four of the 49 graduates at the Pontifical College Josephinum had extra reason to listen carefully to the homilist for their Baccalaureate Mass. It was delivered by their hometown vocations director.

Fr. Paul Sullivan, director of vocations for the Diocese of Phoenix, shared some brief remarks insideSt. Turibius Chapel, the largest of the seminary’s four chapels. The commencement was held May 14 for seminarians from 23 U.S. dioceses.

Phoenix graduates

Phoenix seminarians earned the following degrees from the Pontifical College Josephinum May 14:

David Loeffler, Eric Nanneman, Gabriel Terrill and Ian Wintering received various college degrees May 14. (Photo courtesy of the Pontifical College Josephinum)

  • Dcn. David Loeffler (MDiv, STB, MA), one of our men from Phoenix scheduled for priestly ordination June 11
  • Eric Nanneman (Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy)
  • Gabriel Terrill (Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy), one of four men from Phoenix scheduled to become official seminarian candidates June 10
  • Ian Wintering (Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy)


Phoenix’s Dcn. David Loeffler, Eric Nannemann, Gabriel Terrill and Ian Wintering were among the graduates. Seminarians earned degrees from the College of Liberal Arts, Pre-Theology Program or School of Theology, and thereby became alumni of the only pontifical seminary outside of Italy.

Graduation, Fr. Sullivan said, “is a time of going forth, of being sent out…It is a day of wonder and dreams, yes, but the dreams of the man of God are the will of God. In a seminary graduation, we do not celebrate our plans. This is not a celebration of self will. With gratitude we can glory in the plans God has for each one of us, which are far greater, far more glorious than we could imagine.”

A Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy or humanities was awarded to 21 graduates of the College of Liberal Arts. Twelve seminarians earned a Bachelor of Philosophy, indicating successful completion of the Pre-Theology Program.

The Master of Divinity degree, which signifies fulfillment of the requirements for priestly ordination, was awarded to 16 graduates of the School of Theology, four of whom completed the additional academic requirements of a Master of Arts in dogmatic theology, moral theology, biblical studies or evangelization. The Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (STB), a pontifical degree conferred by the Josephinum in affiliation with the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, was awarded to seven of the deacons.

“No man who is graduating today entered the Josephinum in the hope of becoming a master of Latin, a metaphysician, a theologian or a humanitarian,” said College Senior Class Representative Joseph Mominee, a seminarian from the Diocese of Toledo. “Every man who is graduating today chose to become a seminarian because of the person of Jesus Christ, in the hope of being conformed to Him in order to bring Him to those who need Him most in this world.”

The commencement exercises marked a defining moment in the vocational journey of the seminarians. A majority of College and Pre-Theology graduates will continue their discernment as they undertake graduate theological study.

Graduates of the School of Theology will return to their respective dioceses for ordination to the priesthood; the Ordination Class of 2016 will join nearly 1,200 ordained alumni who currently serve the universal Church in nearly every U.S. state and in 18 different countries.

“This is not just a regular graduation,” Fr. Sullivan said. “This is not just about your efforts, your achievements. It’s not only about human choices, human effort, for human ends. We celebrate something more today. This is a divine adventure. Divine choice, divine assistance, for divine ends. May a life of true holiness be lived in you, and may it leave its mark not only in these halls, but in the halls of heaven.”

A reception followed Mass. More than 200 parents, family members and friends of the graduates joined the seminary community for the day’s festivities.