Studium Theologicum Salesianum
Salesian Pontifical University : Faculty of Theology - Jerusalem Campus



Jerusalem, 12 September 2016
John Langan, SDB

On the morning of Monday September 12, 2016, the new students of the Salesian Pontifical University Faculty of Theology Jerusalem campus met just before 7am outside the sacristy of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We prepared to celebrate the Holy Mass at one of the holiest sites in the entire world, the very tomb where Jesus Christ was laid and resurrected. This was only the third time that I had been inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and it was the first time I experienced the church this quiet. We were able to take a few moments in recollection as we waited for the previous group to finish their celebration of the Mass within the tomb. Rev. Biju Michael SDB gave us directions for what we should expect once we get inside the tomb and he brought out a small model of the inside of the tomb to explain where we could stand and the particular parts of the tomb to look out for once we were inside.

Rev. Jaroslav Rochowiak SDB, Secretary General of the Salesian Pontifical University was our main celebrant and he led us into the tomb at the appointed time.

Inside the Edicule, the structure built around the tomb, there were two small rooms. The inner room was where the body of Jesus was laid. The altar stands in the burial room directly above the burial stone. Since the size of burial room could not accommodate our entire group, we each had an opportunity to venerate the burial stone while Fr. Rochowiak and Fr. Biju led us in the celebration of the Mass. As we had learned in the previous days, the tomb and Edicule had been rebuilt on two occasions as a result of destruction once by invaders and a second time by fire. We listened to the Gospel of John about the two disciples rushing to the tomb and finding it empty, but also seeing the burial cloth rolled up separately. Listening to this Gospel on the location where this actually took place was an incredible experience. It was a blessing to be able to lift up in prayer all our confreres, family, and friends both deceased and living at the very tomb of Jesus. Fr. Biju reminded us to ask God’s grace for these next four years as we complete our initial formation and prepare for our priestly ordination and for other ministries in the Church. It was fitting that later on that morning we would complete our enrollment as students in the Salesian Pontifical University, Faculty of Theology Jerusalem campus. We gathered outside the STS offices and with the help of Sr. Angela Ridout SJA we completed our enrollment forms that would be sent off to Rome, Italy. As we continue to settle into our new surroundings, we will surely continue to look back and remember this day throughout our studies. 


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