On Monday, April 6th, Seminary of the Southwest announced that commencement exercises and other activity scheduled to occur on May 20, 2020 at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepard would be moved to an on-line format.
During a zoom meeting with the senior class the Friday beforehand, the Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, dean and president, shared the news, and noted the remarkable sadness of doing so.
“Cancelling in-person commencement this year was a necessary, but very difficult decision. As an academic institution and a praying community, our rituals of leave taking and commissioning are very important. For all of us, missing our celebration of commencement is a huge loss,” reflected Kittredge afterwards.
While Austin and the state of Texas are under stay-home orders and other restrictions until at least May 8th, the seminary felt it important to make the decision now, given the amount of planning, travel, and coordination that must occur months beforehand to successfully hold the beloved event.
Seminary leadership are currently planning how the important and meaningful rituals included throughout commencement and the accompanying events can be experienced remotely. Plans are to currently hold a commencement service at the same planned time and date, May 20th at 10am CST. The service will be live-streamed to the seminary website.
The entirely of the 2020 senior class will be invited to participate as graduating students at the 2021 Commencement next year.
“This senior class is very special to us, and in many ways, now even more. We will use our technological know-how and creative imaginations to honor their time here and send them forth with blessings and love. We will still gather on May 20th at 10am. We will still honor our seniors. We will still send them out to heal this world. We will not be physically together. But we may have never been closer spiritually.”