The 2017 graduation ceremony for Saint Patrick College, Maynooth, took place on Sunday 12 November. At the graduation, 241 lay, religious and seminary students received qualifications for their studies in Theology and Philosophy.
Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Chancellor of the Pontifical University, presided over the ceremony which took place in the College Chapel of Saint Patricks’ College, Maynooth. Included in the 241 students were 24 Permanent Deacons who were the first to complete a diploma in Diaconal Studies.
Speaking at the conferral ceremony Archbishop Martin said, ‘The conversation that Pope Francis recently had with the six astronauts on the International Space Station inspires me to ask you – today’s graduates – some questions. For several years now you have taken ‘to the skies’ – you have engaged in subjects which by their very nature invite you to have a ‘birds eye’ view of the world, of nature – to reflect and consider life’s biggest questions – who are we as human beings? What is our purpose? The meaning and destination of life? The fragility yet power of creation and our place within it? The search for God? Faith seeking understanding? What first motivated you to study these great questions? What have you discovered? How has your quest changed your life? And, above all: what have you discovered about ‘the love that moves the Sun and the stars?’
‘Your contemplation of transcendent things should be matched by your determination to keep your feet on the ground. Philosophy and Theology which does not have a connection with real life and the day-to-day issues of ordinary people is mere speculation and self-indulgence.
He went on to say, ‘As Pope Francis told his fellow Jesuits in Colombia in September: “Philosophy and Theology cannot be done in a laboratory, but must be done in life, in dialogue with reality.” Just as Jesus began with the real lives of people and led them to God, so our reflections and observations must emerge from accompanying the messy realities of people’s lives and journeying with them in their discernment, informed by the truths and challenges of the Gospel and the tradition of the Church.
‘No one has ever seen God, but His presence radiates throughout the universe, through all creation – He draws us into the communion of persons that is the Trinity and invites us to share in His love – “the love that moves the sun and the stars”.’
Archbishop Martin concluded, ‘Graduates, I encourage you not to see today as the end of your theological journey, but an overture to your participation in the mission of the Church to seek after and find God as lay women and men, clergy or those in the consecrated life. Celebrate and give thanks for your achievement – for the gifts you have nourished in the library, the lecture hall and during your study. Accept our congratulations, for we know that none of this could have happened without your dedication, commitment and determination.’