25th November 2020
Dear Students / Particularly Dear graduands,
How do you feel today? A day like this is a day of excitement, putting on gowns and celebrating! It is normal. Indeed many of you have been asking the question “When will this be?” Instead of asking “Why questions.” The “Why questions” and the “How questions” are – for me – the more important questions in life. The “Why questions” teach one to get the focus correct (Vision) while the “How questions (procedural knowledge)” lead one on a step-by-step methodology towards performing something, that vision. But, I understand you, I also once was a student, a graduating student. My first graduation was in 1980 as a Primary School Teacher and what was in my mind was just a “suit” for graduation! And my Mum, in living memory, bought one for me.
Let this day be, not only a day of pride but let it be also a day of serious “doubts” about your capacity to change the world you live in! Are you capable of bringing some change (s) in the workplaces / in the Ministry of the Church? Which change (s)? Jesus, after his baptism in the Jordan by John, came out of the waters saying: “Time if fulfilled, the Kingdom is at hand, repent and believe in the Gospel (Mark 1: 15).”
- Asking oneself such a question: “What change (s) am I to make in life, and in Marist life? This is the best question you may ask yourself today!
Graduands: It is your “DAY.” Lecturers who are here, I am sorry to say this, it is not your DAY. You have done well your job, you got your pay, you can swallow your pride … Formators, the same. This day is for those you / we have mentored. It is not our day per sé, it is rather the day of our mentees! Jesus said once: “When you have done all you should, then say, “We are merely servants, and we …·unworthy [undeserving; worthless] servants; we have only done the work we were supposed to do (Lk. 17: 10).” And Job, in his wisdom, questioned like this: “Can a man be of use to God? Can even a wise man benefit Him (Job 22:2)? You have done your part and everything is God’s work, through you / us.
Dear graduands, what story (ies) do you wish to tell us, we, your mentors?
- I hope you / we heard the speech of your representative. It is a story of hard working people, … you are almost heros / heroines of your academic achievements.
It is worth today asking you some of these questions:
- Are you also becoming heros / heroines of your own life and the life of society (and not victims)?
- Have you become a better person since you started DRS courses? What are you passionate about: what is your passion in life?
You not only have the knowledge and the ability (ies) … but also you have the responsibility to forge an identity that is so unique to you and to the world.
- Which identity are you grooming and nurturing … which value (s) have you developed? Is there something like “kindness, simplicity, loving service, gentleness, integrity, citizenship – have you become good christians and virtuous citizens?”
The 3-year DRS programme has been like a journey, an incredible journey – I suppose, when you had to face “Case Studies questions” during your exams of Marist Spirituality, Human Development, Understanding Human Sexuality, Christian Anthropology, Marist Pedagogy, … Such questions may have helped you to understand yourself and to become who you are today!
Learning is more than getting a piece of paper, it is about developing capacities and capabilities, acquiring competencies and experiences, fighting ignorance, poverty, … as what Malala Yousafzai, a female Pakistani Nobel Prize laureate (2014) as an activist for ‘female education and the youngest’ once wrote: “Education is the best weapon through which we can fight poverty, ignorance and terrorism.” At that time, she was 17 years old, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. Learning does not end at the graduation. Another journey has just started. Keep learning. Do not stop learning. By learning you will certainly develop your best personal identity and our personal identity is basically something we keep gaining and earning! It can even be more than the DNA we received at conception.
And my final questions are forthcoming:
- Have you become “hard work” people? Do you “make meanings” in your day-to-day undertakings? What have you discovered as you read books or as you interacted with the M.K.O. (Lev Vygotsky)? Are things clearer now?
- Have DRS courses changed you? Have you learned to think critically? Have you learned to exercise some control over “how” and “what” you think and “what” you do? Do you have clear and strong convictions now?
MIUC DRS courses are designed for preparing Marist apostles. “In the realms of studies, Formation Guide n° 296, it is necessary to avoid superficiality and to seek rather a solid assimilation of the courses, competence ‘for the apostolic works of the Institute,’ and the required qualifications. The goal to be reached here is the solid formation of a Marist apostle who will also be a good educator, capable of ‘making Jesus Christ known and loved”” (cf. Marist Constitutions, art 2: Charism of the Institute):
- Have you studied DRS courses so as to be excellent Marist apostles or terrible masters? This qualification you are getting today is not for this second category!
- Have you studied DRS courses to leave behind you a lasting and memorable impression on the people you will minister to?
If the answer to this last questions is “YES,” then you are truly satisfied with MIUC DRS courses and I, in my present capacity, encourage you to strive in the same direction and to do what you believe is a great work for the Kingdom of God.
As I conclude, some tips or pieces of advices. To a pertinent question that was asked one day: “Do you know that little things in life matter?” St. Teresa of Calcutta often shared, “We can do no greater things, only small things with great love.” It unfolds then what William H. McRaven (1950s), a former US Navy officer said passionately, “if you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”
This is the secret, my dear graduands. It is the secret to all of us. Success (es) and failure (s) will come. But all depends on “how” you use your successes and failures to become a better person! Both are learning experiences.
Thank you for listening.
Br. Dr. Albert Nzabonaliba (fms)
Tel (WhatsApp): +254 720 947 037