Trinity TV takes a LEAP
June 7, 2023
Saluting volunteerism and service to humanity
June 7, 2023

Studies at Seminary offers both Catholic unity, Ecumenical character

By Kaelanne Jordan

The Seminary of St John Vianney and Uganda Martyrs (SJVUM) held its 2023 graduation and end of semester Mass Friday, May 19.

Valedictorian Maurice White, the “lone-wolf seminarian” among the recipients of a Bachelor’s in Theology degree thanked his fellow classmates and those they were leaving behind for cultivating an environment where everyone learnt from each other and deeply respected one another regardless of nationality, culture, vocation, or religion.

“Every class I attended was truly a gift and a force impelling Catholic unity,” White said.

He mentioned when the SJVUM was established 80 years ago, January 19, 1943, it was destined to reflect an ecumenical character, having been dedicated to the Ugandan Martyrs, who among them were two dozen Anglicans.

White shared he will miss the rich unity on display and the ecumenical enterprise where persons can contemplate theological, philosophical, anthropological and pastoral truth alongside Presbyterians and Shouter Baptists, lay consecrated and clergy, young and not so young, policewomen, agriculturists, entrepreneurs, teachers and journalists.

He then quoted Pope Francis: “education cannot be neutral. It is either positive or negative; either it enriches or it impoverishes; either it enables a person to grow or it lessens, even corrupts him. The mission of schools is to develop a sense of truth, of what is good and beautiful”, to underscore that the institution of SJVUM has had a positive and enriching influence on everyone’s lives, enabling persons to grow, develop and flourish in every dimension of personhood.

To this end, White asserted the graduating class of 2023 can now “confidently claim” they received the “best” theological, human, spiritual and pastoral formation in the world.

White was presented the Diane Jagdeo Award for academic excellence for his performance in the areas of theology and ethics.

Vice Rector and Principal Fr Jason Boatswain and Dean of Studies Dr Adanna James were past recipients of this award. The prize is one of two awards initiated in 2008 by former Rector Msgr Michael de Verteuil and is named in the honour of former Dean and lecturer Sr Diane Jagdeo OP who was known for her dynamic contributions to systematic theology and Caribbean theology.

White, a former Holy Cross College, Arima and Fatima College student has been on the journey towards priesthood for the past eight years. Referring to the figure eight, he said it is symbolically rich, as is figure seven, which is often used to symbolise fullness and perfection.

“On the other hand, the number eight transports us into another dimension, a new reality. Hence at the climax of our most solemn liturgical events like Christmas and Easter, we commemorate these joyful and glorious mysteries with octaves,” White explained.

He added as the Seminary celebrates its octave, so does he. He spoke of the many persons who contributed to their experiences and the implications for their future in the Church and wider society.

“The first truth is that God brought us here. He brought us from all walks of life,” White said, referring to his co graduates Andrea Pierre-St Hillaire, Imtiaz St Joseph, and Marlon Mathura. St Joseph received his licentiate in Theology.

White went on to thank numerous persons including Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon, who at the previous closing Mass implored the gathering present to follow and cultivate the contemplative spirit of Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus; lecturer Fr Boatswain, whose patience and compassion helped the graduates to navigate the theological “minefields” of theology of creation, systematics, and the Trinity.

He also expressed gratitude to Dr James, who always advised him with sensitivity, style and soul, and former principal and dean, Fr Dr Arnold Francis who, according to White, exudes the joy of the gospel so adequately described in the You online literature he taught them.

White closed urging persons to never miss an opportunity to cooperate with the grace of God. “…And the commitment of our SJVUM family here… once you do this, you will always be inspired. And this is what we celebrate today….”