2015 Commencement Honors Graduates and Servant Leaders

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Wartburg Theological Seminary (WTS) will honor forty-six degree and certificate candidates at commencement exercises on Sunday, May 17, at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 2001 Saint Joseph St, Dubuque, Iowa.President Stanley N. Olson said of the students being honored, “We on the faculty and staff have the privilege of watching God renew the church by calling women and men into servant leadership, forming them, and sending them into the church for the world. This year’s graduating group is an exceptional gift. We’ll miss them on campus—and we rejoice that they are ready for new ministries.”

Graduates of Wartburg Theological Seminary will serve the church and world providing leadership to congregations and other ministry settings as pastors, teachers, youth leaders, diaconal ministers, chaplains, associates in ministry, and a variety of other positions.

Rev. Amy Current, Dean for Vocation at Wartburg Theological Seminary, was chosen by the Class of 2015 to deliver the commencement address. She is a graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and a 1997 graduate of Wartburg Seminary. Her vocations include pastor, spouse, mother and her present daily working leading a staff, serving students, welcoming those discerning a call to ministry, and walking with students through the process of candidacy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Rev. Current was ordained in 1997 and served as a pastor to two parishes in eastern North Dakota before moving to Dubuque and joining the Wartburg Seminary staff. Her community activities include volunteering at Bryant Elementary school. She and her husband, Rev. Dr. Samuel Giere, have two children.

The Living Loehe Award, which was established by Wartburg Seminary in 1973 as a way of honoring individuals who have given distinguished service to and through the church and exemplify Christ’s call to be disciples in the context of their own daily lives and professional commitments, will be given at commencement this year to Ms. Rita Dudley. Ms. Rita Dudley exemplifies the Loehe tradition through her creative and wise service in home, church and community. She earned a BA in elementary education from the University of Iowa and had several teaching roles including eight years as Director of the Writing Center at Loras College where she also instituted Protestant worship opportunities on campus. Ms. Dudley was a charter board member for the St. Mark Community Center, now the St. Mark Youth Enrichment, in Dubuque. She served six years as vice president of the Northeastern Iowa Synod of the ELCA. She was active on the Wartburg Seminary Board of Directors from 2002-2014 and was chair from 2008-2010, giving unstintingly of her time to help guide the seminary through a difficult chapter. After her term as chair, Ms. Dudley led the development of a new and very useful Board Handbook and orientation events for new members. Ms. Dudley has been involved in congregational mission wherever she and her husband David have lived. The Dudleys have three grown children and two grandchildren.

On Sunday, The Honorary Degree of Doctor or Divinity will be presented to The Rev. Thomas Franklin O’Meara, O.P. O’Meara was raised in Iowa and studied at Loras College before entering the Dominican order. He received his seminary education at the Aquinas Institute in Dubuque and there made his first connections with Wartburg. He earned a doctorate in Munich, Germany. Fr. O’Meara taught at Aquinas for thirteen years and during that time taught or team-taught courses at Wartburg. In 1980 he joined the faculty of the University of Notre Dame where he served until retirement in 2003. Fr. O’Meara has been a tireless and effective scholar of and advocate for ecumenical relations. In the winter of 2015, he was the keynote lecturer for the first in a three-year series of events sponsored by Wartburg Seminary, Loras College, and the Archdiocese of Dubuque appreciating the Reformation, the Second Vatican Council, and the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

The public is invited to attend the Wartburg Theological Seminary commencement exercises which will begin at 3:00 pm at St. Joseph the Worker Church, Dubuque, Iowa.