Jun. 12, 2019

* Bossey masters students graduate, continuing 'that pilgrimage we call ecumenism'

Bossey students share a sign of peace with one another in the medieval chapel of the Ecumenical Institute, Bossey. All photos: Albin Hillert/WCC

12 June 2019

A ceremony on 11 June saw eight new master students graduate from the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Institute at Château de Bossey.

Finalizing a yearlong period of intense study, the students defended their theses on Tuesday morning, and have now been sent on their way to a life enriched by the experience of studies at Bossey.

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Gathering first for a moment of thanksgiving prayer in the institute's medieval chapel, the students were congratulated by visitors from near and far.

Rev. Fr Dr Lawrence Iwuamadi, dean of the Ecumenical Institute, reflected on the hard work of the group of students throughout their study period.

"At Bossey, no two years are the same. Every group of students is unique. And here, you have had the opportunity to study and learn, but perhaps most importantly, to explore what is the meaning of lived ecumenism," he said.

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Fr Lawrence Iwuamadi is academic dean of the Ecumenical Institute. Here, he speaks in front of 'the Bossey icon', showing the diversity of Christianity around the world, but 'always with Christ in the middle'.

Iwuamadi then urged the students on. "Our hope is that you take with you the good things you have learned at Bossey. But also that when you face challenges, we know the importance of avoiding arrogance, thinking that the other is the one who is wrong. Instead, we remember that humility and faith are gifts or God," he reflected.

Anne-Catherine Baudoin, M.E.R. in New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Geneva participated in the ceremony, handing the students provisional certificates for their completed Master's in Advanced Studies in Ecumenical Studies.

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At the ceremony, Anne-Catherine Baudoin represented the University of Geneva, which accredits the academic courses of the Ecumenical Institute.

Baudoin expressed appreciation to the students for their academic achievements, noting that Bossey is a special place of theological study.

"Each of you has their own unique tone," she reflected, urging the students to now go out in their various contexts and share what they have learnt.

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Fr Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, WCC deputy general secretary and director of the Ecumenical Institute, added that "ecumenism is about relationships and about identity. But it is not about diminishing one’s own identity. It is about being yourself, while being open also to others."

The students then took the opportunity to share a joint message with the faculty and guests visiting Bossey on the day.

"The academic year has been a journey... And like any journey, it had its highs and lows, curves and bends, and laughter and struggles," said Salome Esebua from Georgia, reading aloud the message.

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Salome Esebua shared a joint message from the group. One of the master students herself, Esebua has studied the Orthodox Church's understanding of unity and involvement in the ecumenical movement.

"We realized that diversity is a gift from God which is an opportunity to grow in love and live in peace," she continued.

The students then jointly expressed gratitude to all those who "trust in the fact that each graduate that walks out from Bossey will continue in this pilgrimage that we call ecumenism."

"Bossey is evidence that to live in peace is not just a dream, but it is a reachable reality," they concluded.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit joined students after the ceremony to congratulate them on their accomplishments. "I have been impressed with your abilities, your willingness to build bridges and your determination to nurture love between churches and communities," he said. "I urge you to return home and continue to grow your commitment to Christian unity because our world needs you especially right now."