Though classes are finished, cadets’ two weeks preceding commissioning make for a hectic final stretch.
By Brian Saunders, Major –
The sounds of packing tape and the moving of boxes ring across campus the two weeks prior to commissioning events. Finals, functions and farewells fill each day.
“It is the most exciting time of the two years, but at the same time it is sad, because we are leaving such a beautiful place, and beautiful people,” said Cadet Maria Pineda-Ibarra.
First, the cadets and staff gather for the “Mantle Service,” a private event where the mantle of leadership is passed from the officers to the second-year cadets, and from the second-years to the first-year cadets.
Then, finals week begins. While studying for their tests, second-year cadets find time to begin preparing for their move to a yet-unknown location in three short weeks.
The Sunday before their commissioning is a special day at the College for Officer Training. Each officer, prior to being ordained as a minister and commissioned as an officer, signs a covenant in a simple, yet profound ceremony in the Crestmont chapel. The Officers’ covenant reads in part: “As an officer of The Salvation Army, I bind myself to him in this solemn covenant—to love and serve him supremely all my days, to live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of my life, to care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unlovable, and befriend those who have no friends.” It is a sacred document indeed, and a holy moment as it is signed at the altar.
The following day preparations for the commissioning weekend begin in earnest. The tables are removed from the dining room, and chairs are set up to mimic the commissioning platform. Days are consumed with music and marching rehearsals, recitations of Army doctrines—even practice on how to salute when given that much-anticipated appointment. All too quickly, although not nearly quickly enough for some, the weekend arrives: Commissioning.
Friday begins on the Crestmont campus with commencement, when the graduating class receives an associate’s degree in ministries. The Silver Star Banquet follows in quick succession—a private luncheon honoring the parents and supporters of the graduating class. Commissioning events continue Saturday as cadets participate in various activities throughout the day.
Sunday dawns bright and early for the cadets. They arrive at the Pasadena Convention Center by 8 a.m. for one last round of choral warm-ups and prayers. The Commissioning and Ordination service is always a special time—sacred and holy. After two years of training and preparations, the cadets are ordained as ministers of the gospel, and commissioned as officers in The Salvation Army. If the morning service is quiet and somber, the afternoon meeting is anything but. An air of celebration and anticipation is contagious as the new lieutenants are given their first appointments in front of a revelatory crowd.
The final two weeks of training are a unique experience for cadets. After 21 months of intense preparation, living in close community, developing lifelong relationships and getting ready for a future yet unseen, they arrive at these moments with a plethora of emotions and feelings.
“What happens is the final moments of refinement,” said Cadet Edith Dye-Mabie. “It’s almost like the last look into the mirror before you leave the house, except for us this is a last look into our hearts.”
And so the curtains draw to a close on another year at Crestmont. Soon the campus will grow quiet as cadets disperse across the territory to their summer assignments and first appointments. But it won’t be quiet for long. The Messengers of Light Session will arrive soon.