Graduation, 21st October 2015

The graduation ceremony of the 21st of October 2015 was one that will live on, undying, in the minds and heart of the graduands, their guests and families. It is important to remember, however, that the day of the graduation, as important as it was, was nothing more than the metaphorical cherry on the top of the cake. Graduation was the culmination of a process, the roots of which stretch back through time.

The first step, as always, was to heed God’s call. The next was to go to the seminary to be formed humanly, spiritually, intellectually and pastorally. This stage required patient perseverance and diligence for a number of years to succeed academically. The graduands, having put in their prayers and efforts, managed to succeed in this overwhelmingly, achieving a 100% pass rate. Knowing that they had succeeded in this, the next step for the graduands was to ensure they were prepared for the ceremony and, indeed, this they did. The 3pm Mass for the graduation was filled with dapper seminarians in suits for the graduation ceremony at 5pm.

The Mass was presided by Right Reverend João Noé Rodrigues, Bishop of Tzaneen, and was also graced by Right Reverend Barry Wood, Auxiliary Bishop of Durban and many priests. During the homily the Bishop reflected on the first line of the responsorial psalm: ‘“If the LORD had not been on our side,” let Israel say.’ He reminded the congregation that the awareness of God’s being with one was essential in developing rich personal prayer, and the development of this awareness was a critical aspect of seminary formation.

After Holy Mass, the graduation ceremony took place under the auspices of the acting Grand Chancellor Right Reverend Bishop João Rodrigues. This was preceded by the keynote address by Reverend Father Doctor John Selemela. Thanks to good work by the communications team, who relayed the ceremony to a overflow venue, all were able to enjoy the keynote address on “The Synod on the Family and its Implications for the Church in South Africa.” The address emphasised the need to harmonise pastoral practice with the solid foundation of the Church’s doctrines in responding to the challenges faced by the modern family. Furthermore, the fact that any disharmony between doctrine and pastoral practice would not only be a shortfall on the Church’s part, but also a disservice to the institution of marriage, which the synod was trying to protect, and society at large was illuminated.

The penultimate stage of the evening saw the acting Grand Chancellor confer degrees to the graduands. In total 18 degrees in Philosophy (3 of which were with a distinction) and 18 degrees in Theology (9 of which were with a distinction) were conferred. The night ended with many smiles, a pleasant supper and some further celebrations by the graduands and their guests, the cake surviving all the way until Thursday night! All things considered, the event was truly inspiring, and enkindled in many of the students the desire to imitate the graduands in their glory and their success.
By: Vincent de Comarmond and Tshepiso Bontle Lekoko
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