by Ann Marie Engler

Thirty-nine students graduated, and 27 walked across the stage this year for the 52nd Convocation celebration at Newman Theological College. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt our daily lives, NTC opted to host a more intimate event on Oct. 16, with invite-only graduates a livestream for family and friends.

Although things are still not quite back to "normal," it did not stop this group of students from working hard and graduating with degrees in divinity, theology, and religious education.

One of the top awards, the Emmaus Award, was given to Sandra Lynn Sharp of Edmonton Catholic Schools, who has shown incredible commitment over the past four years. She earned the highest graduating grade point average in her master of religious education program.

During her time at NTC, Sharp worked as a consultant with Indigenous Learning Services. She is the assistant principal of Ben CalfRobe/St. Clare of Assisi elementary and junior high school.

"I will continue to support the staff and students that I serve,” said Sharp, a member of Metis Nation of Alberta. “I'm now able to do that with a greater capacity to infuse Catholicism and Indigenous Spirituality in a way that helps to connect and enhance our educational community.

"What I most enjoyed about Newman was the people that I met. Newman Theological College was a warm, welcoming, supportive environment to learn in, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do my master’s (degree) there."

The Emmaus Award recipient must have fostered community in their learning environment, interacted with their faculty, grown in faith knowledge and experience, and have been actively engaged with the academic content of their coursework - all while maintaining a sound academic record.

Jamela Camat,  a hospital chaplain at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, graduated with a master of theological studies degree. She credits NTC for preparing her both mentally and spiritually for her new career. Camat chose the master of theological studies program because she was up for a challenge. She knew the program was academically rigorous, but she also wanted more from her academic experience. 

"I didn't think that I'd ever become a chaplain, but after studying theology, I can't help but try to put into practice the things that I've experienced and learned. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I hope to love others the way Christ loves us."

Camat is also the recipient of the Joseph N. MacNeil Outstanding Achievement Award. This prestigious award is given annually to a student who has demonstrated academic excellence, outstanding contribution to the community of Newman Theological College, and a commitment to their faith and Christian values.

Camat has done just that. She was very committed to her studies and was actively engaged in her classes. She was also very active in the Newman Theological College Students Association, serving as vice-president academic (2019-20) and vice-president of student life (2020-21).

Camat served as executive editor of the Apologia student newsletter and organized Laudato Si activities. She actively promoted student life by organizing virtual talks for students from a wide array of speakers. She also organized a series of virtual bi-weekly coffee chats to allow students to foster community even when they couldn't be on campus due to the ongoing pandemic.

 "I'm forever grateful for everything that I've learned at Newman. Not only have I come to see others and the world more clearly, but I've also learned how to properly love others because of it."

Another bright spot in the graduating class of 2021 is Julian Savaryn. Savaryn has formal education in law, music, and now, theology. Along with his education, he also has an impressive resume - working as a small business owner, lawyer, cello instructor, and catechist. 

With his newly earned master of divinity degree, he hopes to work in parish ministry as a priest of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. NTC was proud to award the Saint John Henry Newman Award for Academic Excellence to Savaryn for achieving the highest grade point average of any graduating student in the master of divinity and master of theological studies programs this year..

"I enjoyed many things about my time at NTC. It was a blessing to experience collaboration between Eastern and Western seminarians. With God's help, my faith and knowledge increased through the collective efforts of the wonderful faculty members, staff, and student body. I am grateful for the NTC library, which is an outstanding resource that aided my studies. I look forward to sharing the gifts that God has entrusted to me through NTC with all those whom I encounter, guided by the Holy Spirit," Savaryn said.

During the 2020-2021 academic year, NTC served a total of 230 students, down slightly from 260 last year. Efforts to increase enrolment in the coming years include robust course offerings, more online options, and a new Bachelor of Arts in Catholic Studies program.

52nd Annual NTC Convocation Award Recipients

  • Sandra Lynn Sharp (Master of Religious Education) - Emmaus Award           
  • Jamela Camat (Master of Theological Studies) -  Joseph N. MacNeil Outstanding Achievement Award       
  • Julian Volodymyr Savaryn (Master of Divinity) - Saint John Henry Newman Award for Academic Excellence    
  • Joan Carr (Former Edmonton Catholic Schools superintendent) - Chancellor's Award (Posthumous)
  • Rev. Don MacDonald, O.F.M. - Professor Emeritus

-Ann Marie Engler is the marketing and student recruitment representative with Newman Theological College