Could I challenge you to think of […] what you are called to do: to use the knowledge you have, to be passionate about what you are doing and to be committed to the people you will serve in whatever you do and to love those people in the way you serve them.
You are called to be ambassadors of Christ, to be people who take that message of love to those you serve, preaching the good news at all times and where necessary using words.
With these thoughts Dr Peter Bray, director of the Wellington Catholic Education Centre, welcomed graduands, their families and friends and specially invited guests to the annual graduation ceremony held in the Sacred Heart Cathedral on December 13.
2007 saw students complete two new programmes: the Certificate in Pastoral Ministry for Hospitals and the Certificate in Youth Ministry. Other students graduated with the Diploma in Religious Studies, the Certificate of Personal Interest, the Diploma in Pastoral Leadership, the Certificate in Catechetical Studies and the Diploma in Religious Studies (Religious Education).
A representative group of graduates in Masters in Educational Leadership (Australian Catholic University) who studied through the Wellington Catholic Education Centre were also acknowledged and celebrated.
Michelle Duffy, a mature student, reflecting during the ceremony on her experience of the Certificate in Religious Studies said:
I have to admit I didn’t find the course easy. I found it challenging because the reality is, even though I went to a Catholic school, a great deal of what I knew about the Catholic religion I had absorbed ‘by osmosis’ as a child. I never thought about why I did something, instead I just did it—during the course when asked to reflect on why I thought something it actually made me pause and think about the subject and my own motives in more depth.
So when I started I realised there was so much I didn’t know.
Doing this certificate was so good for me as it gave me some background knowledge to my childhood and helped me understand what my own daughter is now learning at St Mary’s. Initially I thought it would be interesting to learn about religious education and that it would be another string to my bow. But it creeps up on you—it makes you reflect on why you want to be a teacher, as teaching religious education in a Catholic school is about giving students the ability to understand and appreciate what it means to be Catholic and to express their commitment in thought and action.
Mary-Ann Greaney, a graduate from the Diploma of Pastoral Leadership and a member of the Launch Out Programme, spoke of her experiences:
Why would I want to continue with courses now this diploma is complete? A key feature of the WCEC is the calibre of the teaching staff. This is certainly the place to come if you are looking for answers—if the answer cannot be found here they will point you in the right direction.
I have always been impressed with the depth and breadth of their scholarship. They impart knowledge in a way that is easily understood.
I have always been treated with dignity and have never been made to feel foolish no matter how silly the question. In other words, I have found the experience liberating. Gospel values and Catholic social teaching are role-modelled in a life-giving environment.
I would like to share two simple things I learnt that transformed my thinking. The first was ‘instead of talking about practising our faith why don’t we try faithing our practice?’ Think about that one! The second learning was, ‘if you have a bible in one hand always have a newspaper in the other’. This has helped me stay grounded and real.
All those who gathered for the ceremony were reminded of the special nature of this country through the welcoming ministry of Henare Walmsley and Dianne Tapara from Te Kainga, the Wellington Catholic Marae.
Special guests included Dugald Scott, the pro-vice chancellor for education at Victoria University; Br Kevin Wanden, director of the National Centre for Religious Studies; Susan Apathy, the deputy-director of the New Zealand Catholic Education Office, and representatives from the Palmerston North Diocese.
Mr John Butterfield, the general manager of the archdiocese, stood in for Archbishop John Dew who was unable to attend.
Prayers throughout the ceremony reflected the centre’s desires for the graduates.
John Butterfield prayed the following prayer which reflects the hopes and desires of all connected with the Wellington Catholic Education Centre.
God of wisdom,
Be with us as we gather to praise you for the riches of human talent that we see in these graduates.
As we give thanks for the blessings they have received during their studies, we pray that they will use with wisdom their knowledge and skills to serve the community and help to establish the reign of God in justice and peace.
We make this prayer through Jesus, Son and teacher. Amen.
Pictures: Top: Graduates in catechetical studies: Janet Conway, Nicole Jones, Vicki Allen, Sian Owen RSJ, Catherine Mitchell, Nicola Wishnowsky, Michelle Duffy, Mary Bluck, Rebecca Hiscock, Maurice Atkinson.
Above right: Launch Out graduates, Maryanne Greaney and Margaret Luping.