2023 ICFP Graduation
On Saturday, 11th March 2023, the Instituto Católico Para a Formaҫão de Professores (ICFP), Baucau, Timor-Leste, held its 17th Graduation ceremony in the presence of Rev. Padre Alipio Pinto Gusmão, Administrator of the Diocese of Baucau and Governor of the Institute, Br. Greg McDonald, representing the Marist Provincial, Br. Peter Carroll, Br. Peter Corr, President of the Marist Foundation and ICFP, Senor Luis Alacio Guterres, Director National Curriculum, representing the Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Longuinhos dos Santos, Senora Maria Imaculada Conceiҫão, President ICFP Alumni and Dr. Nilton Pavia, Executive Director of the National Accreditation Agency (ANAAA) Sixty six students were awarded the Bachelor of Teaching (3 years) and fifty nine students received the Bachelor of Education (Licentiate – 4 years).
The day began with a beautiful Mass, starting at 8am, in the Baucau Cathedral, led by Padre Alipio. A special feature of the liturgy was the singing, organized and directed by second-year student, Br Benjamin Carbafo. The Cathedral was full to overflowing.
Next followed the actual Graduation ceremony at the Baucau Convention Centre (Merkadu), just a hundred metres or so from the Cathedral, starting at 10am. Dressed in their academic fineries the ICFP lecturers and tutors processed to the stage, then stood as the ICFP choir, also led by Br Benjamin, sang the National Anthem.
Br Paul Gilchrist, ICFP Director, then welcomed the many special guests, the graduates and their families, before Padre Alipio, presented the students with their degrees. Two staff members, Manuel Belo da Silva and Salvador Magno Ximenes, who have recently graduated with Masters’ degrees in Educational Leadership from the Australian Catholic University, were also acknowledged. Following the induction and the singing of the ICFP song by the choir, there were three formal speeches.
Senor Luis read a message from the Minister of Education and then spoke of his admiration for the work done throughout Timor-Leste by the graduates of ICFP. He was most affirming with his praise. Senor Maria, who was a member of the 2006 graduation class, stressed the importance of personal qualities and skills that these graduates will bring to school communities. She encouraged them to show initiative in their kindness and generosity to others. The final speaker, Alarico Matus, one of the graduates, spoke on behalf of the students and thanked the ICFP staff, the parents and the families for their marvellous care and support during the students’ years of study at ICFP.
The major award winners for the degrees were then introduced and 10 first-year students received scholarships provided by the eMerge Foundation from Sydney:
The Marcellin Champagnat scholarship – Marculino Stefano Sila, presented by Br. Greg McDonald.
The Maria Goretti scholarship – Onesiana do Rosário Baptista Soares da Costa, presented by Mestre Mariano dos Santos, Vice-Director.
The Mary Ward scholarship – Isaura Soares Belo, presented by Sr. Margaret Flynn IBVM.
The Mary MacKillop scholarship – Maria Suni, presented by Sr. Margaret Flynn IBVM.
The Brown Family scholarship – Natalina Ximenes, presented by Br. Peter Corr.
The Kirsty Sword scholarship – Nilda Maria de Fátima Palat, presented by Br. Paul Gilchrist.
The Paddy Kenneally scholarship – Andre de Silva, presented by Br. Paul Gilchrist.
The Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d) scholarship – Balbino Barroz Mariz, presented by Br. Peter Corr.
The Br. Alphonsus (Fons) van Rooij scholarship – Delfina da Silva, presented by Br. Greg McDonald.
The Margie Beck scholarship – Teresa Maria Micaela Freitas, presented by Sr. Selvi IBVM.
Graduating members of the Pastoral Juvenil Marista (PJM), the ICFP Social Justice group, were then presented with certificates of appreciation from Br Paul, and members of the outgoing student senate were given similar certificates by Mestre Mariano dos Santos.
The ceremony closed with a prayer and a final song, delightfully sung by Elisa Florentina Freitas, a Licentiate graduate, and member of the ICFP staff.
As the teaching staff and graduates processed to the rear of the Convention Centre there were scenes of great joy as students hugged their teachers and parents.
The crowd of over six hundred people then sat down to a lavish smorgasbord lunch and spent the next couple of hours mixing with each other, taking photographs and generally enjoying the memorable moment.
The special guests, mainly from Dili, made their way home at about 3pm and a team of first-year students and support staff then cleaned the Centre; like the ceremony itself, this was a big team effort.
The was the first graduation ceremony that was not coordinated by long-serving staff member, Mana Margie Beck, who retired in May 2022; she prepared the previous sixteen ceremonies. Margie sent a special message of congratulations to the students which was greatly appreciated. The preparation of Graduation ceremonies takes months of planning and lots of hard work from various groups within the Institute. It was a real pleasure for them that everything went so well. Congratulations to everyone involved.
Br Paul Gilchrist