By Dixie Ann Belle
Passion for one’s calling, for inspiring others and for the Catholic faith were the prevailing themes at the graduation ceremony of the Catholic Religious Education Development Institute (CREDI) at the St Dominic’s Pastoral Centre, Diego Martin on Friday, January 31.
Over 30 graduates gathered to attend Holy Mass officiated by Archbishop Jason Gordon and the ceremony which followed.
The graduation theme was What must I commit to the Adventure?
During his feature address on the theme, Fr Martin Sirju, Director, Board of CREDI asked the future educators if they felt a deep passion for their work—not only for education but for Catholic education.
“Do you feel as if you have that blood in your veins for promoting that which is particularly and specifically Catholic while at the same time being open to all peoples, all cultures and all regions?” he asked his audience. “When you think of your Church, when you think of your spiritual life in the Catholic religion, does the word ‘life’ come to mind?”
The Vicar General outlined specific components which he believed needs to be restored in Catholic education. He reminded the graduands not to apologise for being Catholic, but to be proud of who they were. He affirmed the importance of the resurgence of evangelical life pointing out that it is not the responsibility of priests and religious sisters alone. “It can be achieved by all of us working together.”
He advised them of the value of helping the poor and vulnerable as well as people with varying mental capacities and children with special abilities like autism.
Fr Sirju told his audience that educators need to bring a proper synthesis of faith and culture to their institutions. He also said that they should remember that “the Catholic faith is not afraid of reason”. “We are not afraid to question things,” he added.
In her speech, valedictorian Liesel Frederick-Bennett spoke of her passion for the work she had chosen. Recalling when she first found out about CREDI’s Bachelor of Education in Music Education, she recounted, “I was excited about the programme. It was exactly what I was looking for…before we began our first year, the Dean of Music Studies asked each one of us the reason for us being here. My response was that I was passionate about music education. I wanted to inspire students to love and appreciate music just like I did.”
Frederick-Bennett spoke of the challenges she and her fellow students encountered while pursuing their degrees, noting that she, “learned that detours are sometimes necessary. However, once you have a clear, defined plan, you can refocus and realign yourselves to your goal”. She noted, “We lived the word ‘perseverance’ and progressed on our journey.”
She thanked family and friends who had supported the graduating students and praised the work of the CREDI administration noting that the students had received, “a quality tertiary education with strong Christian values”.
She added, “We may not all be of the Catholic faith; however, through human dignity and Christian love, we felt respected and valued.” She said that they would all prove to be shining beacons of the institution.
Frederick-Bennett not only received a pass with distinction in her programme, but she also received the Archbishop Anthony Pantin CSSp Award for highest GPA in the music education programme, and the Fr Arthur Lai Fook CSSp Award for highest GPA overall. She was also on the President’s Honours List with Diana Gaitree Coolman and Timika Annalee Joseph.
The graduates pursued Bachelor of Education with honours degrees in Early Childhood Care and Education (8), Special Education (17), Educational Leadership (2) and Music Education (6) as well as Master’s degrees in Educational Studies (2) and School Administration (1).