Pillay, in opening the ceremony, said it was a “privilege, a joy, and pleasure” to welcome all those who are graduating. “We have treasured the time we’ve had together in these two weeks,” he said. “It’s a special day for those who have been though the program.”
He added that he appreciated the collaboration during which “I see us not only talking and talking but I see us working and working—we have changed talk-shops into workshops,” he said.
In his keynote speech, Pillay reflected that the certificates the graduates are receiving reflect their new knowledge and broadened perspectives.
“But the experience you have had in these past nine days is much more than that,” he said.
“You’ve been brought into a context of great pluralism.”
The Emerging Peacemakers Forum has been a life-changing experience, added Pillay. “When we are thrown into a wider spectrum of things, our knowledge suddenly increases,” he said “You have crossed boundaries of language, of culture, of religious and social norms.”
He further reflected that, sometimes people come from places and spaces that have been narrowed and restricted. “You have been thrown into a whirlpool of new experiences,” he said. “I would like to think that going through this particular program has helped you to become champions of peacemaking.”
As the graduates have received the basic tools to continue the task of becoming peacemakers, Pillay encouraged them to develop wings and fly even higher for peace.
“Our world is a very messy place at the moment,” he said, “Into this context, we are called to speak as religious people.”
He asked the students: “How do we have an alternative message for a world that is struggling, for a world that is broken, for a world that is need of healing and restoration?”
These young people, Pillay said, have been chosen to follow a trend of becoming peacemakers. "You are the ones to live an alternative lifestyle,” he said. “Peace is possible.”
He urged the graduates to never give up on the hard work of peacemaking. “I can tell you, it might have take years but I have seen, by God’s grace, the mystery of God at work…transforming lives, changing behaviors,” he said. “This is what were trying to promote.”
The real value of what graduates have gained will bear fruit in how they put it into practice, Pillay concluded. “It’s what you do with what you have received,” he said. “Go out and be disciples and children of God, working with God to transform and heal a broken and suffering world.”