Convocation 2014: Graduates should “turn the world upside down” and prioritize the poor

Saint Mark's graduates and instructors recognized for outstanding achievement at this year's convocation.

Vancouver, BC – MAY 10, 2014 – To be seen as “good news”, evangelization must relate to its contemporary context and prioritize the poor.

This was one of the key messages in the address delivered by Saint Mark College’s honorary doctorate recipient, Sister Donna Geernaert, at the 2014 Convocation ceremony held by Saint Mark’s and Corpus Christi Colleges on May 6, 2014.

Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Charity–Halifax, Sister Donna was awarded the institution’s highest honour, the Doctor of Sacred Letters (honoris causa), for her leadership role in Ecumenism and Interfaith Dialogue – fostering Christian unity and cooperation, and positive interaction between people of different religious traditions to promote further understanding.  The degree was conferred by Most Reverend J. Michael Miller, CSB, Archbishop of Vancouver and Chancellor of Saint Mark’s College.

In her address, Sister Donna cited a series of meetings held between the Roman Catholic and United churches in the nineties, which attempted to identify the contemporary context.

“The growing secularism of society, the need for inculturation, response to contemporary injustices and to the multifaith context in which we live were named as particular challenges to proclamation of the gospel message in Canada today,” said Sister Donna.

Sister Donna went on to cite Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation following the 2012 synod on the new evangelization, which “reminds us of the priority of the poor in evangelization and of our need to be evangelized by them”.

“Jesus proclaims the reign of God as a world of right relationships and demonstrates his meaning as he heals lepers, eats with outcasts and tells parables which highlight generosity, compassion, reconciliation and forgiveness,” she explained.

Sister Donna concluded with a question for all the graduating students: “What challenges do we face – with the educational advantages we have – to help bring this sometimes upside down reign of God about?”

Celebrating Teaching Excellence

At this year’s convocation, Saint Mark’s College and Corpus Christi College each recognized one faculty member as examples of the excellent teaching staff at the Colleges. Rev. Martin Moser, OMI (Saint Mark’s) and Dr. Mary Ann King (Corpus Christi) were both lauded for the “high degree of dedication and energy” they bring to the classroom.

Student Awards

Along with conferring an Honorary Doctorate degree, the ceremony also conferred Master’s degrees, Associate of Arts degrees, and recognized outstanding achievement for the 2013-2014 school year. 

The following students were honored at the event:

Corpus Christi College Awards:

·      Honorable Raymond J. Perrault Award: Irene De Souza

·      Corpus Christi Communitas Award: Camille Porcioncula

·      President’s Award: Charity Condez, ‘14

·      President’s List

o   Trevor Anderson

o   Theresa Bodnarchuk

o   Steven Sy

o   Allistair Tan

Saint Mark’s College Awards:

·      Communitas Award: Susan Sousa

·      Thesis Award: Ryan LeBlanc

·      Chanchellor Award : Tanya Loretto

About Saint Mark’s College

Saint Mark’s College, the Catholic Theological College affiliated with the University of British Columbia, offers graduate degree programs to teachers, administrators, health workers, and other professionals; an undergraduate program for aspiring teachers; and certificates in Religious Education, Theological Studies, Pastoral Studies, and Catholic Ministry Leadership. The College also provides the academic component of the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s program of formation for the permanent deaconate. Open to students from all faith backgrounds, the College’s academic programs are rooted in the long-standing and academically rigourous Catholic intellectual tradition.

About Corpus Christi College

Corpus Christi College is a Catholic liberal arts college located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, offering Associate of Arts degree programs and university-transfer courses in arts, business, and science. Along with small classes and a supportive learning community, the College offers inspirational leadership opportunities, integrated student life and social justice programs, and service-learning trips. Open to students from all faith backgrounds, the College’s academic programs are rooted in the long-standing and academically rigourous Catholic intellectual tradition.

Contact: Paul C. Burns, B.Litt., Ph.D., Interim Principal, Saint Mark’s College 604.822.4463 | principal@stmarkscollege.ca | stmarkscollege.ca