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Maillard recognised posthumously at Seminary graduation

In a thought-provoking address for the Closing Mass and graduation ceremony at The Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs (SJVUM) Chapel, May 11, Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon challenged traditional perceptions of God, urging seminarians to embrace a more compassionate and loving understanding of the divine.

Archbishop Gordon began by acknowledging a prevalent misconception: the image of God as an “oppressive tyrant”, ready to mete out punishment for any misstep. He painted a vivid picture of a “long white beard” figure scrutinising every action, a portrayal that diverges sharply from the God revealed in Jesus Christ.

Emphasising the radical nature of Jesus’ teachings, the Archbishop pointed to the farewell discourse in the Gospel passage (John 16:23–28) as a moment of revelation. Here, he underscored, Jesus unveils a God of unconditional love, one who needs no persuasion to extend grace and mercy.

He challenged the notion that humans must earn God’s love, asserting instead that God’s love is freely given, already present and abundant.

“You don’t have to do anything to earn the love of God…God already loves you,” the Archbishop said.

In his vote of thanks, Rector of the Seminary Fr Jason Boatswain said though there were no Benedictines graduating that day, the Seminary remains “ever grateful” for the presence of Benedictine Bro Samuel back in the seminary classroom as “a constant reminder of our Benedictine origins”.

Among those recognised were seminarian Michael Maillard’s family Paul, Michelle, and Mark. Fr Boatswain thanked them for encouraging and supporting Michael to pursue his vocation to the priesthood.

“I know it took a lot of courage to be present today to receive this posthumous award for your son and brother, but the leadership felt that it was important to honour all the academic work that Mike had done during his time at the Seminary…. thank you for your presence today,” Fr Boatswain said.