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



Jerusalem, 14 September 2016

Hervé Tougma, M.Afr

To you Lord we come to seek for Wisdom! Today 14th September 2016, the Studium Theologicum Salesianum (STS) Jerusalem Campus of the Salesian Pontifical University opened its door for a New Academic Year. The summer holidays have ended and we return to our student’s life to study Theology in the Land of our Lord Jesus himself. It is indeed a blessing to be here in order to study the Bible on Biblical Land. Our opening ceremony took place on the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. And amazingly, we were honored by the presence of the New Custos of the Holy Land Rev Fr. Francesco Patton who led us into prayer to invoke God’s help and assistance as we come to seek understanding of our faith to serve His people.  During the celebration of the Word, Rev Fr. Francesco Patton drew our attention to the link between the Exaltation of the Cross and the Academic Year which is based on the topic of Wisdom. As we come to look for Wisdom and Truth in our Theological Studies, the Cross remains the only source of Wisdom for us to move from the Alpha to the Omega. With true Love of Wisdom, we come to love and follow the King who loves his Cross. Thus in forgetting ourselves, we set off to reach true joy, true Wisdom and true Love in the Lord. Fr Francesco ended with a great wish for each one of the attendants “May the Wisdom of the Cross guide you during this Academic Year and your whole life!”

Following the celebration of the Word, after a period of fraternity over snacks, we gathered in the Don Bosco hall for the second part of the day. On behalf of the Salesian community Rev Fr. Andrew Wong, Rector of the Salesian Community, welcomed all the staff members and students to the Ratisbonne monastery and the STS Jerusalem Campus.

We proceeded with the opening speech given by Rev Dr. William Russel. The focus of the talk was: why do we study Theology? And drawing a link with the homily of Rev Fr. Francesco, the answer is to acquire Wisdom and Wisdom of the Cross. We come together as a learning community both teaching staff and students to learn and to analyze. In his speech, Fr. William used the theory of the mind of Karl Popper, a philosopher, to lead us into an understanding of how to do Theology. Karl Popper talks first of all about the bucket theory of the mind which he rejects before reaching the theory of the search-light which he finds best. The mind of the student should not be considered as an empty bucket, used as a receptacle by the teacher who comes to pour his wisdom in order to fill it.  The mind should be a search-light. The search-light leads us to search and deal with issues and challenges given that we are problem solving animals philosophically speaking. Thus, we hope to solve our problems with ideas. There is an interplay between our environment and ideas. And we need to formulate possible hypotheses before proceeding to criticize and eliminate errors in order to arrive at a new understanding that can solve the problem we are facing in our time. Connecting it to our theological studies, there is a historical continuity in Theology from its source in Revelation. We think depending on the circumstances of the moment. Theology is an ongoing discussion and we are in dialogue with the people of the past generation. By doing theology, we are part of the dialogue to bring new dimensions. By seeking to understand one’s faith, theology is being done by everyone who has faith. Studying theology helps us to widen our knowledge of the context in order to face the problem we confront in our days. Our mind is not a bucket but an activity and we need to be active. According to St Thomas, the main thing in learning is the activity of the student. Learning Theology is a process as we think about the faith and try to develop a habit for the mind to think theologically. It keeps us fully in communion with each other and helps us to prepare for the ministry which will depend partly on the people we will be sent to minister. In short, Theology is meant to develop one’s own Christian personhood so that he/she may be able to help those in need.

After the opening talk, the Registrar of the STS Sr Angela Ridout gave a report of the last academic year 2015-2016. Reminding ourselves of the different events, assemblies, activities and conferences lived in the last academic year helped to prepare ourselves to face the challenges of this new academic year.

The ceremony continued with the welcoming and presentation of the new students and new teachers by Rev Dr Eric John Wyckoff. Beforehand, Fr Eric helped us to realize that for this year the STS has a total of 58 Students and 27 professors. Amazing! In terms of nationalities, we come from all the four corners of the world. This year, STS welcomes a total of 38 nations (the students are from 30 different nations while the professors are from 16 nations). For this academic year 2016-2017, the STS welcomes 12 new students from 12 different nations (10 first year students and 2 diploma students). Two new staff members have also joined us for the courses of Islam and Canon Law and others will join in the coming days.

The most precious time has come! The Principal of the STS Jerusalem Campus Rev Dr Biju welcomed all to the New Academic year dedicated to learning here in Jerusalem. And he continued to invite us to prepare our minds for growth; growth of the mind and faith of each individual member of the STS. He welcomed sincerely the new professors and the new students. In keeping with the tradition, Rev Fr Biju announced the award for the Ordinary Student of the 3rd year and also of those who got the highest average in the second and first year. Upon calling their names, they were all rewarded and congratulated as we wished them perseverance in the years to come. The award for highest marks in the third year was won by Paul Chu. In the second year, the highest average was shared by Andrea Lupi and Jaroslaw Budny. In the first year the highest average was scored by Jude Fernando. The principal took the opportunity also to make some announcements for this academic year. This year 2016-2017, the focus lectures will be on Islam.

To end his speech, Rev. Dr Biju, Principal of the STS Jerusalem Campus, used a quotation from Jr 14:18 “If I walk out into the field, look! those slain by the sword; If I enter the city, look! victims of famine. Both prophet and priest ply their trade in a land they do not know.” Using this passage, he brought to our attention the danger we can face when we go out as priests in reference to the prophet and priest who lack true knowledge. Study of Theology and Priesthood are vocations and not some trade for which we train. As priests if we don’t aspire for the gifts of knowledge, understanding and wisdom, we will fail to contribute properly to the life of faith of those we are called to serve.

Following all the sharing and invitation, on behalf of the Salesian University UPS, the academic council, the principal Rev. Dr Biju Michael declared the Academic Year 2016-2017 opened. Time has come for the students and professors to play their part for another academic year together!

Salesian Pontifical University
Opening of the Academic Year 2016 - 2017

Jerusalem Wednesday 14 September 2016


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

May the Lord give you peace!
Today is a special day, because we are opening the Academic Year on the liturgical feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, in the City where the Lord Jesus Christ was historically exalted on the Cross, giving his life for our redemption.

What is the link between the opening of the academic year and the exaltation of the Holy Cross?

I think it is the topic of wisdom.

Why do we study theology or every other science? Because we are looking for wisdom and truth. And we know that looking for wisdom and truth is looking for the deep meaning of our life, of the world in which we are living, and of the history that flows from her alpha toward her omega point.

And when we are looking at the Holy Cross we are looking at the only source of wisdom! A wisdom that is truth and love and power at the same time, as the apostle St. Paul writes in his letters. Even to the eyes of the world it is foolishness and weakness.
In the Holy Cross the wisdom of love shines in a sublime way.

As Pope Francis said to young people on Palm Sunday three years ago: “Dear young people! Yet all of us, all of you know very well that the King whom we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the Cross and who teaches us to serve and to love. And you are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves, in giving ourselves, in emerging from ourselves that we have true joy and that, with his love, God has conquered evil… You carry it [the Cross] so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace”.

So at the beginning of your academic year I wish that each of you can reach this kind of wisdom: the wisdom of the Cross, the wisdom of true love, the wisdom that makes you feel loved by God who gave his only Son for everyone of you, for everyone of us. I wish that this wisdom will guide you in the present and in the future, when you will be called to be pastors and educators: without the wisdom of the Cross, without the wisdom of love and giving themselves it is impossible to carry on a pastoral care ministry and an educational service.

So may the wisdom of the Cross guide you and us during this year, and during all our life.

May it be so.

Fr. Francesco Patton OFM

Custos Terrae Sanctae

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