Pilgrim Theological College’s contingent of graduates might not have been the largest cohort attending Friday’s University of Divinity ceremony, but what they lacked in numbers they and their invitees made up for in volume.
After the 17 Pilgrim students in attendance received their awards at St Paul’s Cathedral a yell of jubilation went up to accompany the polite applause, which set something of a trend for the colleges following as 410 people were conferred awards.
Unfortunately not all 22 members in Pilgrim’s class of 2018 were able to attend, including Liam Miller who received a top academic award.
Liam was honoured with Vice-Chancellor’s Scholar award in recognition of his outstanding academic results in completing his Master of Divinity last year.
Every year, each of the 11 colleges operating under the University of Divinity’s umbrella can nominate one exceptional student to be a Vice-Chancellor’s Scholar.
“To have been put forward by the college is a true honour, there are so many great students who have done excellent things so I was truly touched by that,” Liam said.
Pilgrim Associate Professor Rev Geoff Thompson said Liam had “high levels of intellectual curiosity and skills alongside a capacity to develop and articulate his own insights”.
Liam achieved the accolade despite rarely visiting Pilgrim’s Melbourne campus, as he completed most of his studies online in Sydney, where he is in the process of becoming a candidate for ministry.
Liam intends to come to the Pilgrim Valedictory service held later this year.
For all the atmosphere of celebration on Friday, the horrific events in New Zealand on 15 March still cast a shadow, as was noted in the graduation address given by University of Divinity Acting Vice Chancellor Emeritus Professor Gabrielle McMullen.
“As we reel from last Friday’s tragic attacks on two mosques in Christchurch and seek to engage with many other contemporary challenges, we are acutely aware of how much we need the community-building gifts of people like our graduates,” Prof McMullen said.
“Graduates, take your gifts to the work God intended for you; no-one else has your unique gifts; no-one else can realise the ministry that God intended for you.”