Abbot Gregory Polan, O.S.B., the newly-elected Abbot Primate of the worldwide Benedictine Order, spoke at the 171st annual commencement of Saint Vincent Seminary, held on Friday, May 12, in the Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica. Abbot Gregory, who, until his election as Abbot Primate, was the Abbot of Conception Abbey in Missouri, represents the International Federation of Benedictine Abbeys throughout the world. He was also presented with the doctor of divinity degree, honoris causa.
Twelve degrees were awarded to seminarians from the Archdiocese of Beijing, the Dioceses of Altoona-Johnstown, Covington, Erie, Conception Abbey in Missouri and Saint Vincent Archabbey.
Abbot Gregory was elected by abbots from Benedictine men’s communities around the world on September 10, 2016, in Rome during the Congress of Abbots. The Abbot Primate represents Benedictine monks at international gatherings, promotes the unity of the abbeys and priories around the world and serves as a liaison to the Vatican. As Abbot Primate, he also becomes the Abbot of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome and Chancellor of the Benedictine’s Pontifical Atheneum of Sant’ Anselmo and its Pontifical Liturgical Institute.
The Scripture scholar and translator has done translations for the New American Bible and led the effort to complete a new translation of the Psalms, known as the Revised Grail Psalter, which the U.S. bishops have approved for use in the liturgy.
Abbot Gregory was born in Berwyn, Illinois. He entered the Benedictine novitiate at Conception Abbey in 1970 and professed his vows a year later. He studied at Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1977.
He completed his doctoral studies in Sacred Scripture at Saint Paul University in Ottawa and taught courses in Old Testament and music at Conception Abbey in Missouri.
ARCHDIOCESE OF BEIJING
Panji (Peter) Ren of Xi’an, China, is the son of Xiao Ni Ren and Fengmei Sun of Xi’An, China. He is a 2004 graduate of Zhouzhi High School, Xi’An. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Beijing Diocesan Seminary, Beijing, China in 2009. He earned the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2017, summa cum laude, as well as the master of arts degree, summa cum laude. He was awarded the Omer U. Kline, O.S.B., Excellence in Preaching Award, given by the Rector’s Council to the student who has most clearly demonstrated excellence in preaching during his fourth year of study. He also received the Honorable Judge Bernard F. Scherer Award, given by the faculty to the student who most exemplifies the qualitites evident in the life and mission of Judge and Professor Scherer, who was a man who, above and beyond his legal career, dedicated much of his life to teaching and forming students at Saint Vincent College and Seminary. The recipient must share the judge’s love for learning, for discerning God in all things and his love for sharing his faith with all of God’s people. The recipient must demonstrate that love in both his academic and human formation, demonstrate the wisdom and interconnectedness of all life, specifically regarding the corporal works of mercy and the love for the poor and needy, demonstrate discretion and humility and who is a living witness to hope in Jesus Christ.
Jie (John) Shi of Wu Hai, China, is the son of Huru Shi and Chun Xiang Wang of Wu Hai, Inner Mongolia, China. He is a 2007 graduate of Chahar Right Front Banner No. 1 Middle School, Ji Ning City, Inner Mongolia. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Bejing Diocesan Seminary in 2010. He earned the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2017, magna cum laude, as well as the master of arts degree, magna cum laude.
DIOCESE OF ALTOONA-JOHNSTOWN
Peter D. Crowe of Pennsylvania Furnace is the son of Robert E. Crowe of Boalsburg and the late Susan M. Crowe. He is a 2004 graduate of State College Area High School. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Hampden Sydney College in Hampden Sydney, Virginia, in 2008. He completed the pre-theology program at Gannon University, Erie, in 2013. He earned the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2017, cum laude. He also received the Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B., Sacred Scripture Award, given by the Scripture faculty to the student who has most demonstrated excellence in the study of Sacred Scripture.
DIOCESE OF COVINGTON
Britton Clark Hennessey is the son of Clark and Sherry Hennessey of Augusta, Kentucky. He graduated from Augusta High School in Kentucky in 2000, and earned a bachelor of business administration degree with an emphasis in business information systems from Morehead State University, Kentucky, in 2004. He earned the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2017, cum laude. He received the Diakonia Award for Student Service. The recipient is nominated by the entire Seminary community and chosen by the faculty. The award is given for outstanding academic performance, service to the community by contributing to student morale and spirit, leadership, creative outreach and recommendation by the student body.
Vaughn Ross Kelsch of Augusta, Kentucky, is the son of Vaughn and Beverly Kelsch of Augusta, Kentucky. He is s 2006 graduate of Augusta Independent High School, Kentucky. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in business administration from Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights. He earned the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2017.
DIOCESE OF ERIE
David A. Whiteford of Waterford is the son of Gerald and Susan Whiteford of Waterford. He is a 2009 graduate of Collegiate Academy, Erie. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in history from Gannon University, Erie, in 2013. He earned the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2017.
Brother Etienne Huard, O.S.B., of Conception Abbey, Missouri, is the son Constance M. Huard of Wichita, Kansas and the late Stephan M. Huard. He is a 1999 graduate of Bishop Carroll Catholic High School. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Conception Seminary College in 2009. He earned the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2017, cum laude, as well as the master of arts degree, cum laude.
SAINT VINCENT ARCHABBEY
Father Pio (Peter Paul) Adamonis, III, is the son of Catherine Adamonis of Upland and the late Peter P. Adamonis. He is a 1986 graduate of Saint James High School. He earned a bachelor of science degree in marketing from Penn State University in 1990. He earned the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2017.
Brother Canice (Daniel) McMullen, O.S.B., is the son of Craig and Ruth McMullen of State College. He is a 2006 graduate of State College Area High School. He earned a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Pennsylvania State University in 2010. He earned the master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2017, magna cum laude.