DEGREE CONFERRAL CEREMONY
MARYVALE INSTITUTE, BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND
4th. NOVEMBER 1998
HIS GRACE, ARCHBISHOP CSABA TERNYAK
Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy
Your Grace, my Lord Bishop, my Lord Abbot, Reverend Fathers, Sisters, Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me to greet you on this very special day with every best wish and blessing in the Lord!
It is both an honour and a privilege to be with you here in this place, this Maryvale, where, it can be said, the spirit of John Henry Cardinal Newman still permeates the ambience and leads with an authentic "kindly light" that still pierces an illuminates any "encircling gloom".
It is a time of particular importance for those whose faith, hard work, zeal and dedication, have brought them to this moment - I refer of course to those upon whom degrees are to be conferred, and to their Professors and Lecturers as well. It is a time of harvest, a time of rejoicing. Seeds planted have borne fruit and fecundity is in the air. The atmosphere is laden with a sense of contentment coming from work well done, and yet pregnant, with hope for the future of the apostolate of catechesis.
Maryvale, as a catechetical institution, has been at the very centre of the renewal of catechesis in this turbulent era of Church history when so much has been confusion and doubt. Unswerving fidelity to the Magisterium coupled with sound pedagogical technique has characterized Maryvale's approach to the New Evangelization as we cross the threshold of hope into the New Millennium.
The formation that Maryvale affords is not simply one of knowledge and techniques in the serious matter of the passing on of the faith, but, like all truly Catholic education, has as a primary focus the integral formation of human persons in the faith. Thus, the graduates of this Institution are themselves to be "living Gospels" for all to see and hear. They are not just individuals who are schooled in the ways and means of transmitting a message in a perhaps mechanical, highly sophisticated yet impersonal fashion, but are truly committed catholics, alive with the faith and who exude it joyfully from every pore of their being, using the most modern of pedagogical instruments fine tuned to the voice of Revelation and the authentic Magisterium.
In forming catechists and teachers of religious education, Maryvale has taught how to bring both the "old and the new" out of the storehouse of the deposit of faith. As an Institution, it is in the forefront of the world of the so called "Distance Leaning", using all the most modern means of social communications and media technology. As so much of the world of religion on Internet today is in the English language, the possible ramifications of this for the propagation of the Faith have not come close to yet being plumbed.
Maryvale has an impressive faculty of Lecturers, writers, tutors and consultors available to its student body which guarantees a very personally tailored programming for the student and a high degree of competency on the level of instruction. The international aspect of Maryvale makes its presence in the English speaking world something to be reckoned with in its field.
I cannot let this occasion pass, as a native Hungarian, and not make mention of the outreach of Maryvale into the nations of the former Soviet bloc. The Institution boasts over 30 students from those particular geographic areas. Thus Maryvale is playing its part in the articulation of the truly Catholic voice in the former "Church of silence". For this, I am personally grateful and look forward to the fruits of this endeavour and to its expansion.
My dear graduates, you have had the privilege of formation and education in a worthy Catholic Institution. You have worked hard and deserve a rest from your labours. However, do not expect this to happen. "The harvest is great" and you are being sent forth as trusted labourers in the project of "renewing the face of the earth" for the Lord. So, in many ways, this is but a new beginning in a labour of love that will consume you.
You are well skilled, as attested to by your academic records. But, as you know from your formation, that is but part of the story. Yours is a vocation, not just a professional task. You will need to walk closely with the Lord in order to accomplish the will of the Father in your own life and in the lives of those you will touch.
You are entrusted with a precious task - the passing on of the faith so that "when the Son of Man comes" he will, indeed find faith "on the earth" This not a calling for the weak-hearted but, for the strong. The waves of modern apathy and lack of understanding can sometimes make the work of the committed catechist and religious educator very difficult indeed. But, we are not without help, the Lord is with us, and we for our part, must be truly with Him, for He will not "leave us orphans".
Despite the "battle array", we truly know that the victory is won, and this is the message of hope that we must carry in our hearts, lives, words and deeds, to our brothers and sisters who need to know the Christ or rediscover Him as the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life in abundance. In order to do this, we must be filled with the Spirit of Christ, so that we may persevere and teach with an authority different from that of the world.
In conclusion, my dear graduates, remember and never forget, that you come from Maryvale, where that great Catholic, John Henry Cardinal Newman, made his first abode after his conversion. As a committed churchman, he was most anxious to see an educated and informed laity in the Church. Your alma mater is achieving this goal today, and you are part of that historical achievement. May God Who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.
A heartfelt congratulations to one and all.
May God bless and keep you!