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



7 June 2017, STS Jerusalem 
LANGAN John Gerard, sdb


On the morning of June 7, 2017 in Don Bosco Hall of the Salesian Pontifical University’s Jerusalem Campus, the staff and students gathered to present the degrees and diplomas to the graduating students and to close out the 2016-2017 school year.
Br. Andrea Lupi SDB was the master of ceremony for the event and opened by welcoming all the staff and students of STS especially the most Rev. Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, the Apostolic Nuncio and Delegate to Jerusalem. Br. Paulo Negrini SDB led all gathered in the opening prayer by singing Veni Sante Spiritus. Fr. Biju then invited representatives from the fourth-year class, Br. Hagos Araya SDB and Br. David Elweu M.Afr, to the stage to present the fourth-year class gift of a beautiful new podium to the university campus.
Br. John Paul Verno Soro SDB, student representative of STS, spoke next. He welcomed all gathered, especially His Excellency Rev. Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, and commended all the graduates. Br. John Paul finished by wishing all a pleasant and memorable morning.
Br. Dominic Kapatamoyo M.Afr spoke next. In his farewell speech on behalf of the student community he expressed his experience of being both honored and sad at wishing the students and staff taking leave of the STS. He reflected on the necessity of goodbyes in our lives to allow for growth and recognition of God’s presence at these moments. Br. Dominic acknowledged Fr. Michael Biju SDB, Fr. Andrew Wong SDB, Fr. Aloysius Ssekamatte M.Afr, Fr. Karol Kulpa SDB, and Fr. Moses Wanjala SDB as their time at STS also comes to an end this year.

Next a video presentation was shown displaying the many activities of the University during the 2016-2017 school year. This was followed by Deacon James Raj Samynathan SDB, speaking on behalf of all the fourth-year students, expressing gratitude to all the staff and students who had helped them during their time here at STS.
All the staff members who are leaving were invited up on the stage along with the most Rev. Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto. Each staff member was invited to give parting words to the STS community. Fr. Andrew Wong SDB gave a few words of wisdom and expressed his gratitude for the various people he had worked with in his time here in STS. Fr. Aloysius Ssekamatte M.Afr reminded everyone to give thanks in all circumstances. Fr. Karol Kulpa SDB reflected on his second time leaving STS, his first being as a student, and how study is a part of prayer. Fr. Moses Wanjala SDB called all to reflect on the giving and receiving we have experienced during our time at STS and drawing upon the writings of St. Paul called all to hold on to whatever is good and true.
Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto then presented all the departing staff with a gift on behalf of the University.
Three new books from STS publications were added to the more than twenty books that have been published.  The first book was Mercy a Christian way of life: Essays in honor of Rev. Dr. Biju Michael, edited by Fr. David Neuhaus SJ and Br. Romero D’Sousa SDB. The second was a book on the statues, regulations, guidelines, and best practices of the STS institute, compiled by Fr. Biju. Finally, the third was eight different translations of the Holy Land Pilgrim Handbook written by Fr. Biju Michael SDB, Fr. David Neuhaus SJ, and Fr. Lionel Goh OFM. Each of these books were presented to those directly or indirectly involved in the translations (Kiswahili: Erastus Chege & Samwel Sagut; Chinese: Philip Huang & Mary Theresa; Indonesian: Finansius Sidabutar; Tamil:Gnana Pragash Rayappan and Pushparaj Anthuvan;, Slovakian: Vladimir Plasek; Hindi: Anil Kido; Polish: Karol Kulpa & Jan Rusiecki; Tagalog: Rodil Lladones). All the translators could not be present at the function. Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto released the copies.
His Excellency the most Rev. Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto was the main speaker for the celebration. He continued to reflect on endings in general and how they can be a time of uncertainty and sadness, but how they are also good challenges that promote growth in our lives. He challenged all, including himself, to remember our main duty is not what we do, but who we are and called all of us to remain faithful to who we are. His excellency is also coming to the end of his service as Apostolic Nuncio and connected his own reflection and experience with those graduating STS. He gave three words to hold on to as the students prepare for their priestly ordinations; learning, passion, and mission. To never close the book of learning, hold on to the passion for the life we are living and never allow it simply to become a job, and keep in mind the specific mission of the Kingdom of God. The important thing is not the piece of paper to display, but that at the end of our lives we may honestly and sincerely thank God for what we have been given and be able to say we strove to share our gifts with our brothers and sisters.
The presentation of the Pontifical Diplomas followed this speech. The Teaching Coordinator for the Diploma in Biblical Geography and History, Fr. Andrezj Toczyski SDB and the most Rev. Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto presented ten students with this diploma. Fr. William Russel M.Afr was the Teaching Coordinator of the Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism Diploma and along with His Excellency presented this diploma to six students.
Fr. William Russel M.Afr gave the farewell address to the staff and students leaving STS. Fr. William reflected on the connection between endings and beginnings and connected it in a way that was applicable to all students and staff present. He thanked the fourth-year students and wished them all the best in their new beginnings. He congratulated Fr. Karol and Fr. Moses as they prepare to begin their respective stages in their doctoral studies, Fr. Aloysius as he prepares to begin his term as provincial, he thanked Fr. Andrew for his constant hospitality, and gave special thanks to Fr. Biju for his contribution to STS over the past six years highlighting the institution of the diploma program and transitioning STS to a biennial system which will begin next year.
Next, Br. Andrea Lupi called up the graduates of STS and they were each presented with their Baccalaureate Degrees by His Excellency Archbishop Giuseppe Lazarotto in the presence of Fr. Andrew, and Fr. Aloysius.
Fr. Biju Michael made the final speech as he congratulated all those who earned the diplomas and degrees. He thanked the Apostolic Nuncio for his constant and generous support of STS over the years and, on behalf of STS, gave him a gift to remember the university by. Fr. Biju thanked all who worked hard in the planning and preparation of this special day. Finally, Fr. Biju introduced two new professors who would be joining the STS staff in the coming academic year.

All joined in singing the final hymn, Give Thanks, which was led by Br. Paolo Negrini. Then, all were invited to gather outside for a BBQ lunch provided by the STS.

A very good morning to our Chief Guest His Excellency Giuseppe Lazzarotto, All the teaching staff, our graduating students and my fellow students, and you all present here,
Today, as I stand before you all, I feel honoured and sad at the same time, honoured because I have the opportunity to deliver this farewell speech, sad because it is me who has to do the tough job of wishing goodbye to all those leaving us soon.
However, it is the universal truth we all have to face, whether we like it or not, everything eventually ends. As much as I've looked forward to this day, I've always disliked endings. But endings are inevitable. Leaves fall. You close a book. You say goodbye. Today is one of those days for you all. You all are so much a part of us that you'll be with us no matter what, our North Star. And the small clear voices in our hearts that will be with us, always.
Joyce Rupp, in her book titled “Praying our Goodbyes” gives the original meaning of the word Goodbye. She states that, “the word goodbye – originally meant “God-be-with-ye”. There is a recognition here that God was a significant part of the going. There is a recognition on both sides that time for parting has arrived and no one can stop the process. Therefore, goodbye is the proclamation in the belief that when we part, God is with us.
Goodbye to the traveller means that, the other people cannot keep the traveller from his journey; they know that his leaving is essential for his growth. This is why on behalf of the students I say to our beloved graduates and departing staff, “go, go with God”.
To our outgoing Professors
Good professors are a reason why ordinary students dream to do extra ordinary things. A sincere word of gratitude goes to all the professors who are leaving us: Fr. Karol Kulpa, Fr. Moses Wanjala, Fr. Andrew Wong, Fr. Aloysius Ssekamatte, Fr. Biju Michael for their fraternal and generous spirit. In them we saw great dedication, passion and love for the Church. These men have left their provinces and the joys of being parish priests elsewhere, simply because they want to contribute to the formation of future priests and ministers in the Church. Please know that we students appreciate you professors, your hard work and zeal for teaching in this University.

Each of them have tried their utmost best to do their work according to the mind of the Church. For this we say, “Toda raba.

To the Outgoing Graduates
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” says Eleanor Roosevelt. Dear graduating students, each one of you has contributed in your own unique way to the life of Studium Theologicum Salesianum, STS. We have given you wings, and now as you leave the nest, we are happy that you can fly on your own. And as you do so, also keep the flag of STS flying high.
To embark on a journey towards your goals and dreams requires bravery. To remain on that path requires courage. The bridge that merges the two is commitment. An advise for you from Martin Luther Jr. is that “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” In other words, keep the faith.
We your juniors are really grateful to you all for your good example and guidance.
To our Principle, Fr. Biju Michael
Please note that you have been more than just a Principal to us. You are a father figure, deeply respected, appreciated and loved by us all. With your departure, there is a little change, a little pain, but eventually a transition considered beneficial for the University you are going to. I must confess that Fr. Biju’s impending departure is very painful for us. However, we are consoled by the fact that he has laid a very good and strong foundation for us to build upon. Here is small poem composed for you Fr. Biju:
Oh dear Fr Biju, we cannot believe that you are really leaving
Indeed, in life there is time for everything
Through Fr Piot in the song of the Birds “turn turn turn” we remember and hear Qoheleth saying
There is a time of coming and now a time of going

What a great man we had in you Fr., leading by example
A great leader, but so humble
A hard worker, but so simple
Just like Jesus, in you we have learnt humility
Oh yes, in you Fr. we have learnt simplicity

Without any doubt, we shall all greatly miss you
From the bottom of our hearts, the very best we wish you
Our prayer is that the God almighty continues blessing you
We cannot hide our sadness on our faces and in our hearts as you depart from us as we truly love you
We are filled with joy at the same time for all you have been for us, we shall always remember you
This is why this short poem is composed and dedicated to none other than you

To all
My wish and prayer for all of you taking leave of the STS is that you may always be happy and make others happy too. May all be happy. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.
We will miss you.

All the very best! Goodbye.


A very Good morning to everyone present here.
I stand here on behalf of the graduating students to express our sentiment of gratitude.
It is said that, “Being grateful is being graceful”
On this auspicious day, we as the graduating class of 2017 are grateful as well as graceful.
With grace filled hearts, in the first place we thank God the Almighty for the gift of life, especially for His constant presence and guidance in the past four years at STS, Jerusalem.
We would like to express ourdeepest gratitude to His Excellency Giuseppe Lazzarotto for his encouraging presence in our midst today and for his constant availability.

We are indebted to Fr. Biju Michael, the President, the professors, and the staff members of STS for their exemplary presence and committed service in educating and formingus according to the Gospel and the principal teachings of the Church, so that we may imitate the example of Our Blessed Mother Mary, the Theotokos,to bear God in our daily life.
We also thank the past and present Secretaries of the President Sr. Mary and Sr. Angela, Chief Librarian Fr. Gianni Caputa, Economer Fr. Matteo Balla, brothers who assisted and assist the president and librarian and many brothers for their service and collaboration in attending to all our needs in the academic endeavor in the past 4 years.
It is an apt moment to thank Fr. Andrew Wong the Rector of the Salesian community of Ratisbonne and Fr. Aloysius the Rector of the Missionaries of Africa community of St. Ann’s, the rector of the seminary of archdiocese, Munich along with them other formators for their guidance, fraternity and self-sacrificing service in helping us to grow in the communitarian spirit of the Trinity and in the humility of Christ.
Finally, you dear brethren and fellow students, thank you for your friendship and companionship.
May God bless us as we are preparing to become presbyters. Let us pray for each other so that we may not only BECOME but also BE good priests of Christ!

Thank you one and all!

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