They say that age is just a number and 74-year-old Mr Michael Mahony certainly proved that to be true when he graduated with a Master’s in Catholic Theology. 

After his retirement in 2007, Mahony wrote and published a collection of seven theological books on Jesus, the Word of God and the Church. But his yearning to further his education constantly tugged at him. 

‘I applied for this Master’s for two reasons; to acquire some academic credibility for these books as their author and to lay a good theological basis for a further eighth book which I am planning,’ explained Mahony. 

Mahony, the oldest graduate from the College of Humanities, focused his research on the two New Testament texts where the apostle Paul talks about “A New Creation”, 2 Corinthians and Galatians. 

‘This thesis lays the foundation for my envisaged eighth book which addresses the biblical topic of Eternal Life for the human species.’ 

Some of its key findings centre around the significance of Paul’s New Creation for (the re-creation of) the Cosmos as well as for the individual human, and with respect to the latter, innovative positive implications for the place of women in the church and society.

‘The discipline required for a thesis is completely different from writing a book, albeit that both exercises require a great deal of research. This came as a surprise to me and at times was very energy draining,’ he said. 

Mahony is grateful to his wife of 51 years, Mary, his family, and his supervisor, Professor Paul Decock, for their support.‘Thank you to my family and friends for their generosity and encouragement. I’m also very grateful to the wonderful, patient, efficient, and scholarly supervisor whom I had and to UKZN for allowing me onto the programme in the first place.’ 

He advised others to always strive to fulfil their purpose in life and to pursue their dreams, no matter their age. 

‘I didn’t and don’t give much thought to my age and I certainly don’t see any reason for not pursuing one’s dreams.’ 

Mahony has also co-authored and published a murder mystery with his daughter, Valerie, and they are currently working on a sequel, after which he will start work on his eighth theology book. 

Words: Xoliswa Zulu 

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan