Cardinal Vincent Nichols presented the awards at Maryvale Institute's graduation ceremony at St Chad's Cathedral in Birmingham, to over two hundred and fifty students from all parts of the world who have completed further or higher education programmes of study during the last year. Not all could be present in person at the ceremony; Cardinal Nichols said that the number who graduate in absentia is in fact a tribute to Maryvale's work as it is a reminder of the Institute's international reach - providing formation in the Catholic faith to students from around the world.
The qualifications awarded at the ceremony ranged from one or two year catechetical certificates through to higher education degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate level in a wide range of subjects including philosophy, theology, catechetics, apologetics and marriage and family. All Maryvale's courses are taught through part-time distance learning, requiring attendance only once per term, making them particularly accessible and attractive to people who need to combine their study with working, family or other commitments - as well as those from overseas.
In his review of the year, Institute Director Fr Edward Clare, said that Maryvale had recently completed a two-year period of renewal and reorganisation and is now better prepared than ever to serve the church locally, nationally and internationally in its mission of adult faith formation. He paid tribute to all who contribute to Maryvale's success - including staff, trustees and the resident community of Bridgettine sisters, and he expressed his appreciation to the three external academic institutions who validate its degrees: the Open University, Liverpool Hope and the theology faculty of the Ecole Cathedrale in Paris, all three of whom had renewed their accreditation during the year. Through this latter partnership, Maryvale is uniquely able to offer ecclesiastical degrees recognised by the Catholic Church as well as the wider academic world through its Higher Institute of Religious Sciences established by decree of the Holy See.
Following the presentation of the awards, Cardinal Nichols - a former President of Maryvale during his time as Archbishop of Birmingham - acknowledged the work of the present staff in taking forward the mission of the Institute. The award ceremony ended with an additional surprise presentation when Archbishop Bernard Longley presented the diocesan award Ubi Caritas to Mrs Mary Bull - a previous graduate of Maryvale who has since served the Institute in a variety of voluntary roles for more than fifteen years, and has just retired after twelve years as the founding chairman of the Friends of Maryvale - an association that enables alumni and other supporters of the Institute to keep in touch with its life and work.
More information about Maryvale's courses can be found on: www.maryvale.ac.uk