Students in field

Bishop Katherine A. Finegan to be Finlandia University 2019 Commencement Speaker

March 27, 2019

Finlandia University is thrilled to announce that Bishop Katherine A. Finegan, bishop of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Northern Great Lakes Synod, will be the 2019 commencement ceremony speaker.

“Bishop Finegan is a strong proponent of Lutheran higher education and its vision for preparing men and women for the 21st century workplace and world,” said Philip Johnson, President. ”I am confident that her presence and message at Finlandia’s 2019 graduation ceremonies will be memorable for our graduates.”

Bishop Finegan is serving a six-year term as bishop of ELCA Northern Great Lakes Synod.

“I was raised in the Missouri Synod church and I didn’t have any female clergy role models,” said Bishop Finegan. “However, I felt called to take the leap despite my own lack of confidence because that is what God was calling me to be.”

President Johnson believes the distinctive qualities the bishop has gives her an exclusive perspective on life that she can give to the graduating class.

“As a mother of college-age children she can speak meaningfully to the realities and opportunities our students face,” President Johnson said. “As a leader she can speak honestly about those qualities of personhood that communities need and desire. As a bishop, she can speak deeply of the role of the heart and of faith in forging lives of purpose, meaning and service.”  

The bishop earned a Bachelor of Arts from Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, IN, in 1987 and received her Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN, in 2002.

“My steps towards becoming a pastor were unique,” said Bishop Finegan. “I was working towards it on and off for years while raising a family and also working part time.”

With a unique perspective, and while not giving away too much of her speech, Bishop Finegan has wise words for the 2019 graduating class.

“I would task this graduating class with the role of finding and leading us towards civil discourse,” said Bishop Finegan. “They have received the knowledge and training to speak with a rational mind. In a world quick to anger and emotionally reactive, I hope that they will lead society toward more civil discourse than we currently witness in social media, public platforms, and even dinner table conversations.”

This is the second time that Bishop Finegan has been a part of Finlandia’s graduation weekend. She led the baccalaureate service in years passed.

“Being asked to speak at the commencement ceremony makes me feel so honored,” said Bishop Finegan. “I am just excited to be back. Finlandia is a beloved institution with which we continue to solidify our relationship.”

Finlandia’s 2019 commencement ceremony will be held Sunday, May 5. Visit finlandia.edu/graduation for more information.

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