Graduation Time!

Last night was the graduation ceremony for the students in North Staffordshire, England who for the last two years have studied with the Maryvale Institute. I’ve written about Maryvale and the course in catechesis before, so I won’t go on about it now, but I will just recommend everyone to peruse the Maryvale Institute‘s website. It doesn’t matter what country you live in because Maryvale specialises in distance learning. The director of Maryvale, Fr. Paul Watson was at the presentation evening, as was Bishop David McGough and many priests were there to support those who had successfully completed 2 years of study in Catholic Doctrine and the development of Catechetical skills.

Sr. Felita and myself are the only two members of our parish – but there were 17 of us who were graduating in our Deanery – who have completed the course this time around and we have both been active in our parish in the area of catechesis for the whole of the last 2 years (at least)….but now we get a nice certificate to ‘prove’ that we have a certain amount of knowledge and understanding!

Both Fr. Paul Watson and Bishop David McGough gave wonderful introductions to the evening. I remember wishing that I had a pen and notepad with me to jot down the wonderful things that they both said, but alas my abismal memory has forgotten most of it already.

One thing that really did strike me though was when Bishop David McGough spoke about Pope John Paul II’s immense respect for and promotion of the importance of Catechists. In fact, in Redemptoris Missio he wrote ~

“Among the laity who become evangelizers, catechists have a place of honor. The Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church speaks of them as “that army of catechists, both men and women, worthy of praise, to whom missionary work among the nations owes so much. Imbued with the apostolic spirit, they make a singular and absolutely necessary contribution to the spread of the faith and of the Church by their strenuous efforts.” (RM 73)

The reason it struck me is that once again, I realised that my God has bought me full circle in yet another area of my life. In 1986 I was flailing around looking for God I knew not where and ended up in a British Cult known as the Jesus Army – I have written a lot about my experiences of the Cult, those particular posts can be found by clicking the ‘Posts’ tab at the top of the page – but what I realised tonight was that this is Jesus’ Army to which I as a catechist belong. I used to wear combat style clothes as part of our cultish Jesus Army uniform, but now I’m a member of the army of catechists who carry the baton of Truth in our very souls, our mission; to hand on what we have learned, authentically, just as we ourselves have received it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My parents and children attended the presentation evening and it was so wonderful to have them with me…. a whole family of converts taking up the pew….what wonders God has done in all our lives!

Y’know, I might never get a degree, I might never have a hoard of qualifications, but the kind of things I do have are the things that really matter to me. When I’m on my deathbed I won’t ask for awards, certificates, papers that say how proficient I am at any given subject. I’ll ask for those I love to be near me. So while I feel a wonderful sense of relief and of achievement that I’ve completed the course…. and that I did surprisingly well at it too …. I could never have done it without the support of my wonderful family and of course, my parish priest too (who alas couldn’t be there last night as he is on holiday with his wife). Thanks to all of you for your generosity and support!

After the presentation of the certificates, a large part of the evening was taken up with praying vespers (evening prayers) together and it was such a lovely part of the evening, to pray together. I know from past conferences I’ve attended at Maryvale, that Fr. Paul is a huge proponent of the Divine Office and it really was so edifying. I know that non Catholics in particular bemoan structured prayer, but I firmly believe that if they prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, they would come to appreciate the immense beauty of the prayer of the Church.

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Now then, this is big, big, (quite literally) big … it’s a body shot of me….I don’t remember posting a body shot before, but I don’t think it’s fair to crop the Bishop so……argh! Am I brave enough to post it? Oh, what the heck…I did say it’s what’s on the inside that counts, didn’t I? I actually look like I have a squint or something in the picture below, but I don’t, honest…(not that there is anything wrong with a squint) and oh how I loved this paisley top when I saw it in the shop, but do I look like I’m wearing a curtain or what?!

bishop-mcgough-and-me.jpg

And here’s one with Bishop McGough, Sr. Felita and moi (if you open it in a new window it isn’t so grainy – poor you you get a really BIG me – I had to edit the photo as it turned out quite dark and it appears grainy now)

bishop-mcgough-sr-felita-and-me.jpg

Thanks to all of you for your prayerful support and encouragement over the last two years since the course began!

God Bless you

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16 Responses to Graduation Time!

  1. Dad says:

    Congratulations once again it really was a special night for us all very good photos and dont beat yourself up about your weight remember its what is inside that body that counts thanks again for letting us share your evening. Dad

  2. Jennifer says:

    First off you don’t look that huge…and it’s what’s in the inside that counts. The other day at Mass the homily was about St. Margaret DÝouville and how she wasn’t concerned about outside appearances. They said how we get so focused on outside appearances that we neglect the inside. Which I have pondered and think is true. It might not be true for you but it’s something to think about.

    And it doesn’t look like a curtain. I like that shirt.

    And can you email me your addy…I want to send you something in the mail. I did keep your addy from when you sent me a card last year but of course I CAN’T FIND IT!

  3. Mimi says:

    Congratulations! Whohoooooo! Awesome!
    And, I love your dress, what a great cut and wonderful colrs.

  4. Mimi says:

    Top, not dress. But, still, flattering cut and gorgeous colors (I really can spell)

  5. Esther says:

    Congrats! BTW, Deb you are so pretty!

  6. Warmest congratulations. That’s wonderful. You should be so proud. God is clearly working in your life. And you look just beautiful. I like the fun top.

  7. Alexa says:

    Congratulations Deborah! That’s so awesome! I went through a catechetical course in our diocese years ago, but nothing came of it – it wasn’t on a scale like the Maryvale Institute or anything — but I learned alot.
    Sounds like you had a wonderful evening…a whole pew of converts….wow….all in one family too.
    As for the pictures? I think they’re great. You have a lovely face (I always thought so) and you’re actually not as large as you always write about being – I think you exaggerate – but then, I guess I do too.
    And I love your hair color. I tried going blonde once – and I’m so dark brown that it turned out coppery instead of that whitish-blonde I’d hoped for – that seems to be what you have.
    So, now that you’ve graduated, what’s next?!

  8. Alexa says:

    Not sure what happened here, but I just wrote a long comment, congratulating you and stuff and submitted it, but it then disappeared….

  9. Alexa says:

    Okay, this is weird. That comment went through for some reason…
    I just wanted to say Congratulations, you look great, and What’s next?
    But that’s the nutshell version of my original post – arrrgh! Hope this one goes through.

  10. Alexa says:

    Okay – now, I went back through my browser, found what I’d written and copied it…. and am pasting it below. I hope it’ll go through this time: (sorry for three comments in a row here ):
    Congratulations Deborah! That’s so awesome! I went through a catechetical course in our diocese years ago, but nothing came of it – it wasn’t on a scale like the Maryvale Institute or anything — but I learned alot.
    Sounds like you had a wonderful evening…a whole pew of converts….wow….all in one family too.
    As for the pictures? I think they’re great. You have a lovely face (I always thought so) and you’re actually not as large as you always write about being – I think you exaggerate – but then, I guess I do too.
    And I love your hair color. I tried going blonde once – and I’m so dark brown that it turned out coppery instead of that whitish-blonde I’d hoped for – that seems to be what you have.
    So, now that you’ve graduated, what’s next?!

  11. Wonderful pictures! Don’t you just love the bright blue of the Sister’s habit? So joyful. You too!

  12. Antonia says:

    Congratulations!

    and you do look lovely! really nice hair cut, pretty smile and the top looks great too!

    -x-

  13. tam says:

    I am really loving your story as I read through your blog each day! What a journey…

    Blessings!
    Tam

  14. Judy M. says:

    Congratulations Deb!!!

    I envy you for going through the program. I wish I had the time to do something like that.

    You are beautiful!!

    Be proud of all you have accomplished and who you are today.

    God Bless You!

  15. Melanie says:

    I think you are quite beautiful in your pictures! You have such a sweet smile and lovely hair, and I like your shirt!! And, more importantly, CONGRATULATIONS!! What an amazing effort you put forth and what a wonderful testament to your faith. Thanks for sharing it with your readers!

    And, another note on the picture — you are who you are — and those that love you appreciate having the pictures of you. I don’t look at pictures of my loved ones and think “Oh! So big!” or “Oh! So small!” or any such nonsense!! I look at pictures of my loved ones and think “Oh! I so love this person!”

  16. ukok says:

    God Bless you all for your congratulations and for your ever so nice comments about my appearance. I am obese, and I do have a significant amount of self loathing going on, but I do look alright when I’ve trowelled on the make up, I suppose ~LOL!

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