I gladly and wholeheartedly congratulate today’s one hundred and forty one graduates.  This is a wonderful day for all of you, for your parents, families and friends.  Of course it is a subject of great good news but sadly I doubt if it is going to make the headlines.  However, I do hope it will produce many photographs for your own enjoyment but perhaps also for publication in newspapers.

I say it is great good news for a couple of reasons.  There are no less than seventeen categories of degrees and awards being conferred here today.  They centre around three or four basic subjects theology, philosophy, arts and communication.  I think it is great good news to find that there are so many people prepared to spend their time and energy and money studying and thinking about such topics as, the ultimate meaning of life, the final purpose and direction of human history and about the experience of the holy and the sacred.

I am delighted to see the growing interest in pastoral theology.  It cannot but be great good news to find people who seek to understand and work out the implications of faith for the actual situation of the Church and specifically for such things as preaching, ministry, counselling and liturgy.
Of course you are well aware that you are the heirs of an ancient and remarkable tradition.  Christian Theology begins with the Apostles.  It has passed through many phases, that of the fathers, the monastic theologians, the universities and the seminaries.  You have the best of both worlds as Maynooth is both a seminary and a university.

This is only the beginning.  As I congratulate you I urge all of you to proceed to the ever greater delight of sharing your wisdom and your knowledge of these sacred sciences with others, not primarily for your own delight but for the sake of contributing to the up-building and formation of other people.  On Wednesday night last I attended a celebration of the Word of God in Dundalk.  The group was a small one but it included Italians, Spanish, Maltese, Brazilians, Ukrainians as well as Irish, of course.  Here were people eager and willing to share their knowledge of the scriptures of theology and of spirituality with others, gladly and generously.  It was a glorious and magnificent occasion.  I would hope that many of you will experience this very deep sense of fulfilment.

When you graduate we all dress up in these quaint outfits.  It is not exactly an extension of Hallowe’en but it just looks like it.  When you graduate you join the ranks of a rather select group as you do so you realise that you stand on the shoulders of many others who have helped you to this point, your parents, families, friends, your primary and secondary teachers, your university professors and lecturers.  The list is a long one precisely because the process is a long one.  There are many who have contributed to today’s achievement of the long desired goal of graduation.  That is why today is a day for great rejoicing and also for great gratitude.

Today I want to note the retirement Dr Brendan McConvery as Dean of the Faculty of Theology and to thank him for his excellent service in that capacity.  I note the appointment of Dr Padraig Corkery as Dean of Faculty of Theology and of
Dr Michael Dunne as Dean of Faculty of Philosophy and I wish them well in their positions.  We note the translator Dr Ronan Murtagh who lectured in Moral Theology has gone back to his diocese for pastoral duties.  We welcome Dr Kevin O’Gorman, SMA as lecturer in Moral Theology.  We call the retirement of
Margaret Tyrell, Theology Office, after a veritable life-time of service.  We wish Margaret well in her retirement and thank her for her outstanding work.

I wish you all the great virtue of humility, that is the gift of keeping your two feet solidly on the ground and not allowing yourself to get carried away with delightful fact that you are a University Graduate.  For unfortunately there have been some graduates, not too many, who have were so fascinated with their university status that they became unbearable.  I heard of two priests having a conversation recently, one had celebrated his Golden Jubilee and had borne the heat of the day in more than forty years of the troubles in Northern Ireland, and the younger said to him “listen I don’t think you have much to offer, remember I have a First Class Honours University Degree.”  So I ask you to please pray for humility to enable you to go forth with your university degree.