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