The hard-work, dedication and commitment of over 250 students at Maryvale Institute International Catholic College came under the spotlight at this year's graduation ceremony in the wonderful setting of St Chad's Cathedral. Hundreds of people attended the formal presentation of the Further and Higher Education Awards 2017 on Tuesday 21 November. A procession of the graduands was followed by an academic procession from outside the cathedral into the grand building, where family and friends had gathered to support their loved ones.
The ceremony was formally opened by Archbishop Bernard Longley, the President of Maryvale Institute, and followed by an introduction from Fr Edward Clare, the Director of Maryvale Institute. Fr Clare commended the graduands on their academic achievements as embodying Maryvale's "fulfilment of its mission - which is to form disciples of Christ, particularly those in the lay vocation, to play their rightful part in the life and ministry of the Church." By virtue of their qualifications, he continued, they were now better equipped for their mission of evangelisation and "for sharing and explaining the Catholic faith to others," which they would do in the name of the Church.
Throughout the afternoon more than 50 students were presented with awards by the Right Reverend John Keenan, Bishop of Paisley, that ranged from Certificates in Catechesis and Healthcare Chaplaincy, as well as Divinity and Philosophy degrees, to postgraduate MAs, Licences and PhDs. In his homily, Bishop Keenan drew comparisons between the graduands' time at Maryvale with that of Blessed John Henry Newman and his community of friends, as a watershed in their lives: "It was here [at Maryvale], with the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus in their midst, that they [Newman et al] each discerned, through prayer, study and friendship, their own vocations and charisms in the Church. This first community set an example that still shines brightly for you who have come to Maryvale today." The Bishop further mentioned Blessed John's desire for "'an intelligent, well-instructed laity', with enlarged knowledge, cultivated reason and a connected sense of things; of the relation of faith to reason and of the principles of Catholicism." As new graduates of Maryvale, Bishop Keenan considered those present to be "ready to go back out to the Church serving the Lord's Great Commission to preach the Good News to all Creation, especially amid the opportunities and challenges of our contemporary society. You now know to decipher how the Word of God speaks to our world of today in Scripture and Tradition, guided by the Church's Magisterium, and you have reflected upon it in an environment of both Christian Faith and academic rigour, all in a culture that is open dialogue and respect."
In addition to those who received their awards at St Chad's, time was taken to recognise over 130 students who had either already received or are due to receive their Maryvale awards at other centres, notably Cameroon, Portsmouth and Edinburgh. Indeed, Fr Edward Clare was delighted to outline the institute's continued responsiveness to the voice and needs of the Church in its recent establishment of courses in the dioceses of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, and Galway in Ireland; in a deanery of the Diocese of Galloway in Scotland; and the Archdiocese of Singapore; with discussions on-going in other dioceses as well. In this way, Fr Clare, believes, each graduate "can influence the lives and the faith of others in your communities then we can be sure, in the words of the parable, that the seed you sow will produce its crop, thirty, sixty or a hundredfold, and that those others in their turn will receive the knowledge and the confidence to teach yet more people, then we can see how the influence of well-formed catechists can spread through the church to transform lives and renew communities."
Representatives from Maryvale's validating bodies - The Open University, École Cathédrale in Paris and Liverpool Hope University - were also in attendance and took part in the ceremony. Tribute and thanks was also paid to Maryvale staff. To conclude the congregation took part in Evening Prayer of the Church before refreshments back at Maryvale.
It could be you at the next awards ceremony. There are still opportunities to apply for a wide range of part-time, distance-learning courses beginning in January and beyond.
For more information on courses enrolling at Maryvale, visit www.maryvale.ac.uk.