I’m incredibly grateful to be receiving the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree this year, and grateful for the Lay Formation Program of Saint John’s Seminary. It’s been quite the journey and God has blessed me greatly. I met Dr. Lingertat, who has serves as the Director of the Master of Arts in Ministry (MAM) and MTS Degree programs, about fifteen years ago when I was enrolled as a seminarian at Saint John’s. At that time, the seminary provided me with the time and help I needed to eventually recognize that I was being called to serve God as a layman, and today I’ve been married for six years with our third child due this fall.
Despite changing circumstances, Dr. Lingertat and many members of the Saint John’s Seminary Faculty who still teach in the Lay Formation Programs never stopped playing a formative role in my life. They generously brainstormed ways in which I could complete the MTS degree using the credits I had already accumulated at Saint John’s as a seminarian. My subsequent status as a graduate student immediately gave me the credentials I needed to become competitive as an applicant for a high school theology teacher position in the Archdiocese of Boston. This June I will complete my third year teaching theology at Bishop Fenwick high school in Peabody, MA.
When I began as a lay student in the Lay Formation Programs seven years ago, I initially didn’t feel too bad about missing the program’s communal Evening Prayer if I was running late for class. But the program’s structure reminded me that theology dries up without an encounter with the Divine Word, and that I had to be serious about implementing a habit of prayer that would make sense for me as a layman. After all, this is the lesson I wish to impart to my students, a lesson captured by Pope Benedict XVI in his first encyclical letter, “God is Love”, written a year before I started at St John’s: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”
By: Nicolas Twaalfhoven
Master of Theological Studies
Class of 2022