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



1 February 2017, STS-Jerusalem

On the 2nd of February 2017, the students and faculty of the STS assembled to open the second semester. The student representative, Erastus Chege welcomed the assembly and invited Dn. Lam Dang to lead a hymn invoking the Holy Spirit as an opening prayer for the ceremony. 
After the prayer, the student representative invited the President of the institute, Rev. Dr. Biju Michael to address the gathering. In his opening PowerPoint presentation, he began by pointing out that Don Bosco wanted youth ministers to prepare young people to take their rightful place in society. Therefore, we need to ask, “What is the rightful place in life to which the STS students are being prepared? Noting that the vast majority of students in this Faculty of Theology are candidates to priesthood, he highlighted the various integral stages of formation to the priesthood: novitiate, Philosophy, Pastoral experience and Theology. The STS’s primary role is to provide Theological formation to the candidates. Canon Law 1029, states that only those with “requisite knowledge” are to be ordained. The examination of the Candidate at priestly ordination by the Bishop asks (among other things) if the candidate is ready to carry out the ministry of the word - preaching the gospel and explaining the truths of the faith. As messengers of God, priests are to be guardians of knowledge and instructors of faith. “For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 2:7).

He explained that “requisite knowledge” demanded by Canon Law from candidates to priesthood is knowledge of the truths of our faith (Christ the Truth), because the Church entrusts to the priests, the specific duty of teaching the truths of our faith and celebrating the sacraments as handed on by the Church. Theological education tries to impart this knowledge.

Modern psychology points to the power of the mind in transforming human persons from within. Using the teachings of mentalist Jeremy Bennett, the Principal pointed out that “what we hold in our mind we are attracted to in life.” Theological education in the STS therefore gives the opportunity to fill the mind with the truths of our faith as taught by Scripture and tradition of the Church. Using the example of the common experience of learning to read, he showed that a trained mind could be very powerful while an untrained mind can remain an unused talent from God. Knowledge of modern psychology teaches us that everything we are exposed to is shaping our subconscious mind and that what we hold in the back of our subconscious mind shapes our reality. This knowledge should help us to choose consciously what we fill our minds with  - for what we hold in our mind we are attracted to in life. This is the insight that seems to underlie St. Paul’s statement: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12: 2). We can be transformed by the renewing of our minds! It also seems to be the message of the Psalmist when he says, happy are those who meditate day and night on the law of the Lord, for they are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season. (cf. Psalm 1: 1-3). The Principal thus exhorted all to use every opportunity offered in the second semester (classes, conferences, excursions, and experiences) to choose wisely, what we fill our minds with, to achieve the aim of obtaining the “requisite knowledge” to be effective priests. He quoted St. Joseph Cafasso, the confessor of St. John Bosco to state the importance of learning in the life of priests. “That a priest should be learned is undeniable; without learning, one can be a good, quiet, calm, retired, charitable and pious man, but he can never be a good priest, because to be so, he must be capable of fulfilling his obligations, and this he cannot do without being learned.”

After the introductory remarks, the president Fr. Biju Michael welcomed new teachers and the guest of honor. Firstly, he introduced, Rev. Fr. Alphonse Owoudou, sdb who is the Vice Provincial of the Province of Cameroon. He holds a doctorate of psychology from the Salesian Pontifical University.

The Principal introduced Rev. Dr. Piotr Zelazko as the teacher of the course on “Wisdom Books and Psalms” and “Biblical and Christian Archaeology”. Fr. Piotr is currently the parish priest of Beer Sheba Parish, which is a Hebrew speaking community. Other teachers who will begin teaching in the second semester are: Fr. Lionel Goh, Fr. Gustavo Cavagnari and Fr. Moses Wanjala. He then, acknowledged the grant of US$ 3000, from Archbishop Pizzaballa, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate to the project of translating the book Holy Land: A Pilgrim’s Handbook
The principal then welcomed Rev. Dr. Alphonse Owoudou to release the new book written by Rev. Dr Joan Maria Vernet sdb, and published by LAS, Rome: “La Sindone: Itinerario geografico e storico.” Fr. Vernet then presented the book to the assembly. The book recounts the journey of the Holy shroud from Jerusalem to Turin. A fundamental question raised by the author in the book: “Is the Shroud of Turin the same Mandilion (as it was called) that was revered in Edessa?  The answer that the book presents is an absolute YES.

The student representative took over after Fr. Vernet’s book presentation, and he thanked him for his wonderful contribution.

In the second part of the Students’ Assembly, minutes of the previous Student’s Assembly were read by Cl. Javier Orengo sdb. We then led the election of the student’s representative and Cl. Soro John Paul Vemo, sdb was elected as the new Student Representative. Deacon Erastus Nduati Chege who had served two semesters as the Student Representative was thanked for his dedicated service and availability. The following Year-group leaders were elected:  Lladones Rodil Padilla – 1st Year; Yan Naing Htun – 2nd Year;  Negrini Paolo – 3rd Year; and  Hailu Araya Hagos – 4th Year.




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