May 22, 2013
“Lead me, guide me along the way, for if you lead me, I can’t stray.” This is a line from a hymn sung during the opening Eucharist for the August 2011 term here at Virginia Theological Seminary; a hymn that I learned to love and became my daily entreaty, singing it to myself for the next two years. As an international student, to come to VTS is a privilege -- a rare opportunity for me and the other four graduating international students as well. It was a great privilege, yet it is also one that is costly and that necessitates great responsibility. It was, in fact, costly in all aspects. This, however, has not caught us unaware, for Christ himself has said that to follow the Way is a crucial decision to make. To follow Christ is a vocation, where one is required to bear his or her own cross and follow where the Spirit leads. While this vocation and the preparation that comes with it is costly, the joy and fulfillment experienced along the way cannot be undermined. Thanks to the VTS community for making things easier and affordable for every seminarian.
Along with the local students, I and other four international students will be receiving diplomas and certificates for the Master of Arts and Anglican Studies programs. To receive this diploma is a reward for this rigorous period of theological formation and training that should lead to a fruitful ministry of the Church to the world. But receiving the diploma or certificate is more than a reward. I would like to perceive it as an act or a rite that confirms the vocation that each has consented to pursue. So while we cherish this day, we also anticipate with joy the beginning of another journey; a voyage of faith that has begun or blossomed while in the seminary.
We will be serving in the different churches of the Anglican Communion, in South Sudan, in Haiti, in Liberia and in the Philippines. The outstanding training and formation imparted by this prestigious seminary are crucial for the ministry of the Church to prosper. As we leave the portals of our dear alma mater and go to our respective regions, we are to pursue the five marks of mission in proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom: by teaching, baptizing and nurturing new believers; by responding to human need by loving service; by seeking to transform unjust structures of society; by challenging violence of every kind and pursuing peace and reconciliation; and by striving to safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain and renew the life of the earth. As we commit ourselves to this sacred and noble task, may these famous words at VTS “Seek the truth, come whence it may, cost what it will,” along with the line “Lead me, guide me along the way, for if you lead me, I can’t stray” continue to ring in our hearts.
The Rev. Mary Jane Dogue-is, M.A. 2013
Diocese of North Central Philippines
President, International Students Forum