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

DANG Lam Giuseppe Cosimo, sdb



31 May 2017, STS Jerusalem
LANGAN John Gerard, sdb

On Wednesday, May 31, 2017, Deacon Lam defended his baccalaureate Synthesis at Studium Theologicum Salesianum in Jerusalem, completing four years of study and earning the title Bachelor of Theology. His thesis was titled, “God loves the poor. The poor at the centre of Jesus’ mission and that of the Church.” Lam’s tutor for his synthesis was Rev. Dr. Leopold Vonck M.Afr. and the reader was Rev. Fr. Karol Kulpa SDB.

Rev. Dr. Michael Biju SDB, Principal of STS Jerusalem Campus, welcomed all present to the Baccalaureate Exam and highlighted the purpose of such an exam by reading article fifty-three of Sapientia Christiana which states a “student proves he has received the full and scientific formation demanded”. 
Deacon Lam then led all in an opening prayer and presented a brief overview of his synthesis. Beginning with Pope Francis’ call today to all people to work tirelessly to help the poor in the world. Then, going through the biblical understanding of what poverty is by looking at the various Hebrew words used in the Old Testament and their unique meanings, differentiating between material and religious poverty and also those who beg and those who are hungry. He spoke about how concern for the poor has been a consistent part of Old Testament covenant theology and the transition to Jesus and the New Testament brings a unique aspect of not only the teaching, but the example given by the life and actions of Jesus himself. Showing that the Good News does not exclude the rich and how it even goes beyond justice to a lived charity. The Church today continues Jesus’ mission and maintains this key aspect of concern for the poor. Deacon Lam highlighted the challenges that come as the Church tries to faithfully live out this concern for the poor mentioning the tension that arose from the development of the theology of liberation and the Church’s work in evangelizing against communism. He called to mind the challenges that still exist today such as identifying and recognizing the various kinds of poverty in the world today.
When the time came for questions from the tutor and the reader Fr. Leopold congratulated Deacon Lam for his commendable work and gave a few small recommendations for ways to combine material in a few of his chapters. Fr. Leopold asked Deacon Lam about the idea that non-Christians could purify their intentions for charitable works being done and Lam responded by first stating that his work was not complete and more could be done, but then explaining that all people, both Christians and non-Christians, can examine their actions and purify their intentions to make sure God is the subject of their work and they are being done with good intentions.

Fr. Karol also commended Deacon Lam for his work particularly his ability to continue to apply what he learned early on in the research paper to later discoveries. He presented deacon Lam with a case involving a woman in an abusive marriage involving abortion and contraception. He asked Deacon lam what kind of pastoral advice he would give to a person in this situation. Deacon Lam answered this question covering the theological points necessary to understand and then presenting practical advice to be given.
Eventually, Fr. Biju SDB, the president of the commission asked Deacon Lam to present key point of a pastoral plan for taking care of the poor in a parish. Deacon Lam laid out a few key points of a pastoral plan focusing on the fact that the priest is not the only one and needs to make use of his parish council. The importance of keeping up to date on church teaching by returning to Church documents regularly, and the need to understand the situation of the people in his parish. Next Fr. Biju asked Deacon lam to speak to the point that if the Catholic religion can only be proclaimed to the poor then is religion merely the opium of the poor. He pointed out that since all people are sinners we are all poor in one way or another and therefore in need of Jesus in our lives.

 After a short break, the Bachelor of Theology defense panel met and awarded deacon DANG Lam Giuseppe Cosimo  SDB, with the Bachelor of Theology degree. Deacon Lam is expected to be ordained   to the Order of the Presbyterate on the 23rd of June 2017 in Utrail, Bangladesh.


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