Convocation 2020: A socially distant celebration

The Montreal Dio community gathered on the evening of May 4 for an online Convocation.

Social distancing restrictions led to some creative new approaches to Convocation. Before the service, the president of the college, Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson of Montreal, visited graduating students at their homes to confer their degrees and diplomas—using a crozier to ensure that the 2-meter distance was respected.

The college awarded the Master of Divinity to Jeffrey Mackie-Deernsted, a postulant for ordained ministry in the Diocese of the Yukon. A Diploma in Ministry was awarded to Susan Searle, a postulant for ordination in the Diocese of Montreal. The college recognized the Bachelor of Theology that Guillaume Benoit has completed at McGill University while affiliated with Dio. Guillaume will shortly begin training for the Roman Catholic priesthood at Le Grand Séminaire in Montreal.

The college recognized the achievements of students throughout the year in a series of awards and prizes. These included the Bancroft Prize for best theological essay to Jon Jameson for his essay, “The Eucharistic Polis: Universal Sacrifice in Book 10 of The City of God.” Ben Stuchbery was awarded a new prize, the Special College Prize for Liturgical Leadership in a Time of Pandemic. This prize recognized Ben’s instrumental role in leading online worship in the last weeks of the semester and ensuring that the college’s Daily Office chapel schedule continued uninterrupted. Linda Moore was awarded the Rev. Canon Dr. Lettie James prize for feminist or pastoral theology for a sermon she preached on the David and Bathsheeba story and the MeToo movement.

The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, offered the Convocation address, a penetrating reflection on our changing society and the role of a changing church within it, informed by Jesus’ teachings in the Beatitudes, the reading for the evening.

At the end of the service, guests were invited to stay for an online reception, rotating through virtual “rooms” to congratulate each of the graduates.