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June 2, 2018
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June 2, 2018

Theology graduates told ‘Be beacons of light’

Valedictorian Pastor Ingrid Ryan-Ruben stands fifth from left with other graduates.

By Lara Pickford-Gordon, lpgordon.camsel@rcpos.org

Thrust bravely into the turbulent seas of secularism and make a difference. Be beacons of light. This advice was given by Fr Arnold Francis, Principal, Theological Institute & Dean, Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs at the ceremony for the 2017–2018 graduates held at the seminary, Mt St Benedict on May 21. The event also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the seminary.

In the commencement address, Fr Francis said, “This celebratory event is meant to affirm you in your faith and position you to face what seems like a perfect storm of secularism, where the storm clouds and the rough seas become more turbulent.”

There were 13 graduates receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees in Theology including Rev Lindsay John and Rev Kenneth Vieira who were ordained deacons about two hours earlier at the Abbey Church; Rev Aaron Charles of the Anglican Church and Spiritual Baptist Pastor Ingrid Ryan-Ruben. Certificates of participation were presented to 12 other persons.

Fr Francis told the graduates it would be an understatement to describe their journey as “overwhelming” with the many nights of sleep sacrificed preparing for exams and completing theses, evident in persons falling asleep in their classes.

Fr Francis said they have succeeded and learned, “there can be no great achievement without sacrifice, without pain”. He praised their courage, determination and hard work.

Using imagery he said, powerful storms batter lives, many shipwrecked lives struggle for survival in menacing waves and boisterous winds.  Manhood and womanhood are fractured and there are seemingly unmendable relationships and broken families. Many people are looking for a beacon of light to navigate the dark stormy world.

“They need a lighthouse to steer them safely to the shores of authentic personal fulfilment,” Fr Francis advised. The graduates were provided with an opportunity to become a beacon of light through nurturing with good theology. “All to stimulate and enflame your intellect and mediate a personal encounter with Christ—the epitome of truth and goodness,” he said.

Beyond academia, the institution hoped to have awakened their religious imagination and they surrendered to the spirit to inspire their imagination to new and creative ways of making the Church attractive and relevant to the marketplace.

Fr Francis said essential traits for effective mission were the ability to connect the gospel to the streets, speak the dialect of the poor, understand the language of secular culture and have a romantic imagination of Catholicism.

“Let the gospel penetrate every facet of reality. The intoxicating power of secularity is no match for truth romanticised by the great gospel artists you are called to become.”

The valedictorian, Ryan-Ruben said she was graduating after five years at the 75th anniversary celebration of the seminary and as part of the largest group of graduates. She felt good to be in a place where “everyone is on a path to knowing more about God and His word”. Ryan-Ruben was completely at home and her journey was easier.

She said as a pastor it was a cause of joy to encounter so many young men who love Jesus so much to dedicate their lives and service to Him. Ryan-Ruben pursued her degree as a full-time public servant which required making up time on weekends and public holidays.

She said it took time for her to come to terms with some ideas taught including that the Bible is not a history book. “I remember my fellow students from other denominations who were struggling with these ideas some of them left the programme…I adjusted and carried on and opened myself to an amazing journey. I love God and this journey has helped me cement my trust in him”.

The education in theology at the Catholic institution provided the foundation on which Christian ministry can be built. Although she thought some courses were “too Catholic”, she added, these “were sufficiently Christian and founded in solid research and tradition that any self-respecting Christian could have no difficulty with the learning derived from the class interaction”.

Archbishop Jason Gordon, Senior Lecturer Dr Everard Johnston and President of CREDI Fr Jason Boatswain made presentations to the graduates and participants. Dinner took place after the ceremony had concluded.

Graduates BA Theology

Alexander, Stephan Damien

Alleyne, Kwesi Qemal Orland

Charles, Aaron

Francis, Marlene

Hamilton, Harold A

John, Lindsay R

Mainooh, Clifford

Muvengi, Lawrence Kavita

Nyamah, Gabriel Yao

Ryan-Ruben, Ingrid

Simbert, Frantzo

Sylvester, Kenwyn Danjuma S

Woei A Jin Guillaume N.T.



Antoine, Natania

Blizzard, Florence Vanessa

Caldon, Avril

Mose, Urbanus Mireri

Parsad, Patrice Ravitee

Price, Bernadette

Ramsahai, Analisa Marie

Saunders, Freddy Michael

Smith, Anne Frances