By Jordan Grantham, Catholic Outlook
Most Rev. Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, was the principal celebrant of Mass on the occasion of Campion College Australia’s 2016 Graduation ceremony on Tuesday 13 December 2016. Bishop Emeritus Kevin Manning joined Bishop Vincent. The Hon. Tony Abbott MP, 28th Prime Minister of Australia, was Guest of Honour and occasional speaker.
The class contained 35 students, the largest cohort of graduates in Campion’s ten years of operation. This was the first graduation held at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
In his homily, Bishop Vincent gave a systematic reflection on the Church and her mission, explaining the place of “our beloved Campion College”.
“It is with great joy that we have gathered in this Cathedral to give thanks to God with the graduates of 2016 from Campion College,” Bishop Vincent said.
He urged the graduates to serve and ennoble the lives of others, being conduits of grace, or “a channel of peace,” in the words of St Francis of Assisi.
Tony Abbott MP, Bishop Emeritus Kevin Manning, Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta and Dr Stephen McInerney watch the graduation ceremony. Photo: Jordan Grantham, Diocese of Parramatta
Mr Abbott directed his commanding address to the new graduates. He displayed typical self-deprecation, requesting people not hold him up on a pedestal.
Mr Abbott used the scriptural idiom: “To whom much is given, much is expected,” adding “much has been given to you.”
“Your challenge now, every day of your life, is to make the most of what you have been given,” Mr Abbott said.
Mr Abbott used an evocative image to cut to the core of Campion College’s mission, one that would have been familiar to Christopher Dawson, the eminent historian of culture and religion, who is a guiding light of the College:
“Now I daresay, there have been times when looking out on the world, from the confines of the College, you might have thought that you are a little bit like monks in a monastery in the middle of dark ages, holding aloft the torch of learning and faith amidst the onslaught of many barbarians.”
Mr Abbott urged students to be optimistic about the world, citing socio-economic development over the past thirty years.
“In 1980, more than 50% of the world’s population lacked access to clean drinking water, today less than 10% lack access to clean drinking water.”
“In 1990, 37% of the world’s population lived in absolute poverty. Today, only 9% of the world’s population so live.”
Towards the conclusion of his address, Mr Abbott spoke with fond recollection about Fr Emmett Costello SJ, who taught him at St Ignatius College, Riverview.
“Emmett had many pet phrases, one of them was, something that I’m sure would roll of your tongues, genus humanum vivit paucis … the human race lives by a few,” Mr Abbott explained with a smile.
“Are we to be among the few who change the world? Or are we to be among the many who are changed by the world?”
Then, Bishop Vincent, Bishop Kevin and Mr Abbott heard from the student president, Valedictorian and College Medalist, Nicholas Augimeri.
Mr Augimeri graduated with the Bachelor of Arts in the Liberal Arts and Diploma of Classical Languages. He was previously School Captain of Redfield College, Dural.
Dominic Augimeri was overwhelmed with joy for his son: “So proud I almost cried,” he commented.
See more photos of the Graduation here.