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CHICAGO: July 1, 2007
The Pastoral School of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America Graduates Its First Class

Members of the first graduating class of the Pastoral School of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America were awarded diplomas by the School's President, His Grace Bishop Peter, following Divine Liturgy on Sunday, June 16, 2007. The graduation ceremony took place among family and friends of the graduates in the Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Of the seventeen students who began the program two years ago, five graduated and received a diploma in either Pastoral Theology or Orthodox Studies. Bishop Peter commented that “the students exhibited a firm grasp of the subject matter of their courses, and are well prepared for their calling as either future clergymen or as lay people capable of serving the church in a variety of ways.” On the previous day, each of the graduates passed a comprehensive oral examination consisting of questions covering all aspects of their studies.

On Saturday evening, all-night vigil was served by the School's first graduate to be ordained to the priesthood, Father Michael Van Opstall of the Western American Diocese. Priest Michael is the Rector of St George's Mission in Salt Lake City, Utah. Other graduates are from the Dioceses of New York and Eastern America, Western Canada, and Australia and New Zealand,

The School was begun by the Diocese in order to provide pastoral education for those who, because of family, work or other obligations are unable to attend residential pastoral studies programs. In this manner the School complements other programs by helping to fill the need for qualified clergy to serve the Church. There are eleven student currently enrolled in the second year class.

The Pastoral School consists of a two-year academic program which allows students to take classes at home on-line during hours that fit their life situations. The program offers two diploma options, one in Pastoral Theology for candidates for the clergy, and another in Orthodox Studies for those wishing to serve the church as theologically-educated lay men and women. All applicants to the School must have satisfactorily completed at least 60 credit hours of course work from an accredited college or university. The Pastoral School is authorized to grant diplomas by the Illinois State Board of Education, Department of Business and Vocational Schools.

The School is currently taking application for the fall semester, which begins on September 17. Those who are interested in applying to the school or in obtaining more information should go to the School's website at: www.orthodoxtheologicalschool.org