The Hien Pham SDB

April 04 2019 - STS - Jerusalem During our first year of classes, the 1st-year students have Topographical Visits guided by Fr. Leopold Vonck, M.Afr. The last place we visited this year was the City of David, located outside the walls of today’s Old City.

At 2:00 pm on 4th April 2019, 25 members of the first year together with gathered with our guide at the City of David’s gate. The state-of-the-art 3D Presentation was the first point we appreciated. There, the place was presented through the generations, from the times of the Bible until today. After that, we went up to the top of the building to see the wonderful view around the city.

To continue our trip, we went to the remains of King David’s Palace. It is known as the “large stone structure” which was discovered beneath ruins from the Byzantine and the Second Temple periods. Specially, we were interested by the delicate patterns on the stones characteristic of that time.

The third stage of our visit was the Royal Quarter, with the House of Ahiel and the “stepped stone structure”. These were destroyed together with the rest of Jerusalem in the Babylonian military attack.

Definitely, the most exciting part of our journey was for us the experience of going through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. This channel led the water to the Shiloah (Siloam) pool. The length of it is approximately 533 meters and the height differential between the source of the spring and the end of the tunnel is a mere 30 centimeters. In some places it is about 1 meter. However, from a biblical point of view, the main highlight for us was Warren’s Shaft, because many historians believe that Solomon’s anointing and coronation as King of Israel occurred at this very place.

For those who did not want to go through Hezekiah’s Tunnel, another option was to go through the Canaanite Tunnel, which is a dry route about 400 meters. On this route one could explore the Canaanite pool and the Fortifications of the Spring House, the Gihon spring, the walls of ancient Jerusalem, the Weill excavation, and Meyuchas House.

The final place visited was the Shiloah (Siloam) pool. This piscina commemorates the Christian tradition of the miracle of the healing of a blind man (John 9). After Fr. Vonck’s interpretation, the whole class took some time to thank God with a short prayer for the guidance of Fr. Vonck and the adventures of the topographical visits during the year.

Fr. Leopold Vonck guides
Overlooking the pool of Bethesda
Once upon a time...
The adventurous team
The City of David


Belito José Joaquim

April 05 2019 - STS - Jerusalem Our last archaeological excursion as students of theology at the Salesian Pontifical University, here in Jerusalem, took place on 5th April 2019. Just as it was scheduled, we journeyed first towards Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park.

The site, located in the Israel’s Shephela region, in the foothills of the Judean Mountains, has a tumultuous history from the Idumean Period through to modern times. After the explanations at the spot of the city remains, we moved further to the so-called ‘Polish Cave’, a deep and beautiful artificial cavern. According to the accounts, the cave was one of the preferred places for the Sidonians, the people that arrived to this place from the ancient Phoenicia. However, its present name refers to the fact that after the 1st World War, some Polishes used the cave as a place of refuge and planification for the fight against Germans and left some inscriptions on the rocks.

After this, we moved to the ‘Columbarium Cave,’ just a few meters from the previous one. This cave was planned and hewn as a dovecote for raising pigeons for food, for cult purposes, and for their manure which was used as fertiliser in the field of agriculture. Accordingly, we also entered inside the ‘Maize Cave,’ a beautiful place with its incredible as well as complicated irregular network of passages or paths. After that, we visited the Sidonian burial caves, one of which served as a resting place for the family of Apollophanes, and shortly afterwards, we went to see the famous church of Saint Anne, considered to be the first building used for public Christian worship in the region. The temple was first built by the Byzantines and later on rebuilt by the Crusaders, somewhere around 12th century BC. To finish, we moved to ‘Bell Cave.’

In all, these archaeological sites were first excavated in 1898-1900 by the British archaeologists Bliss and Macalister. However, for the sake of updating and enriching the information about the site, in 1989 new excavations were held by an Israeli archaeologist Amos Kloner on behalf of the Israel Antiquity Authority. Today, this place is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After a rustic lunch, the last place visited in our archaeological excursion was Tel Azekah, a town in the Judean foothills guarding the upper reaches of the Valley of Elah, about 26 km northwest of Hebron. It is believed to be the place where the Amorite kings were defeated by Joshua and, perhaps, also the site where David defeated Goliath, the then strongest man in the Philistine army. With this, we completed our exhausting but enriching journey.

An expedition to explore
Toward the Colosseum
Fr. Piotr unfolds the mystery
The battle begins...
Inside the Bell Cave


March 25-28 2019 - UPS - Rome From 25th to 28th March, 2019, the Roman seat of the Faculty of Theology of the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS) promoted the meeting of the Salesian Centres of Theology connected with the Faculty. The event brought together the Heads of the two external Campuses and seventeen Affiliated, Aggregated and Sponsored Centres from Europe (3), Latin America (6), Africa (3) and Asia (5), who participated together with other invited guests.

The purpose of the meeting was to study and deepen the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudium on Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties, issued by Pope Francis on January 29, 2018.

Among the speakers: Prof. Andrea Bozzolo, SDB, with a presentation on «The Educational and Theological reading of the Prologue of the Veritatis gaudium»; Prof. Dariusz Kowalczyk, SJ, with the report on «The Postmodern “bad” and “good”: What air does today’s theologian breathe?»; Prof. Andrzej Wodka, C.SS.R., on «A crucial expectation of Pope Francis: theology at the heart of polarities of reality»; Prof. Salvatore Currò, CSI, with regard to «The anthropological implications of the Veritatis Gaudium», and Prof. Gustavo Cavagnari, SDB, on the theme «The Pastoral Formation of the candidates for the priesthood in the light of Veritatis gaudium».

The meeting was moderated by Prof. Damasio Medeiros, SDB, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, together with the Salesians Proff. Paolo Carlotti, Sahayadass Fernando and Shaji Puykunnel; and saw the welcome participation of Prof. Mauro Mantovani, Rector of the UPS, of Fr. Francesco Cereda, Vicar of the Salesian Rector Major, of Fr. Eugenio Riva, Religious Superior of the UPS Vice-Province, and of Fr. Francisco Santos, from the Formation Dicastery. On 27th March, the Most Rev. Vicenzo Zani, Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, presided over the Eucharist for the participants in the meeting at St. Peter’s Tomb.

Furthermore, during the last two days of the Meeting, the participants attended the Conference, «The Way of Beauty. The aesthetic experience in Theology», promoted by the Institute of Dogmatic Theology of the Faculty of Theology.

Coming together
Imploring God's Grace
The heads of Salesians Theology Institutions


Karen Lorenzo Contreras

March 14 2019 - STS - Jerusalem To walk the steps of the great characters of the Bible, to visit the actual places, to get a sense of reality and account for is one of the best experiences as a student of STS.

Our first archaeological excursion of the year was not short from this. Guided by the always-charismatic Fr. Piotr Zelazko, we felt like those disciples on the road to Emmaus saying, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over” (Lk 24:29).

Our excursion began in a very special place, Emmaus Nicopolis. After a short bus drive, just 30 km west of Jerusalem on the road to the Mediterranean, we arrived at the place where, according to one tradition, was the place where Jesus appeared to his disciples after His Resurrection. After the revelations received by Saint Miriam of Jesus Crucified, agreed with Edward Robinson’s identification of this place as the Biblical Emmaus and the Roman-Byzantine Nicopolis, the Carmelites bought this place and the archaeological excavations began. One brother of the Beatitudes community, who now take care of the place, received and guided us.

We continued our excursion by walking up a small mountain to the remains of a crusader castle in Latrun, a mystic and peaceful place. Its name derives from La tour des chevaliers (The tower of the knights) given by the crusaders. Located in a strategic hilltop in the Valley of Ayalon and overlooking the road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, this place has been a witness to many events in history, and has served as a crucial point for many periods, and now the place is the home of French Trappist monks who cultivate many vineyards.

We then reached a truly unique place in Israel, the Soreq cave, also known as Avshalom´s cave. Located in the Judean hills near the city of Bet Shemesh, this 5,000 mt cave holds a dense concentration of stalagmite and stalactite created over millions of years of water dripping through the ground, dissolving limestone and slowly creating this natural wonder. It was discovered accidentally while quarrying with explosives and opened to the public once it was properly preserved.

Our final destination was very different from the previous places we had visited. With no actual archaeology but a comprehensive multimedia center to help enrich every visitor´s understanding and knowledge of the Holy Land. A lovely volunteer from England guided us in and out the Saxum Visitor Center, who thoroughly took us on a journey through time.

It was a real treat to visit so many different and enriching places in one day, an experience one can have in very few places, as one does in this beautiful land of Israel.


The Emmaus Experience


Remains of Crusader Castle in Latrun


A Holy Land Review - Saxum


Were not our hearts burning within us. Lk. 24, 32


The team - John XXIII


The team - John Paul II


The team - Paul VI



March 07 2019 - STS - Jerusalem


In the afternoon of 7th March 2019, the second annual STS Soccer Tournament took place at the sports compound located behind the Burj al-Laqlaq tower in the Old City. The date of the event this year was not chosen at random: the tournament followed the celebration hosted at St. Anne’s on the occasion of the Jubilee Year of the Missionaries of Africa.

The game, held from 14.00 until 16.00, was a good and joyful moment of recreation and sharing among the students, and a great opportunity for them to build camaraderie and fellowship.

After three matches full of exciting moments, the STS cup was awarded to the Paul VI’s team. Congratulations!

The game on fire


And its a GOAL...


The winners of the day




Ngizwenimana Olivier M.Afr.

March 07 2019  St Anne's  Jerusalem On the occasion of the Jubilee celebration of 150th years of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, the staff and students of Studium Theologicum Salesianum (STS) were invited to St Anne’s premises for lectures and presentations on the Society.

All began with a talk by Fr. Dave Sullivan “150 years old and still going strong!” a presentation of some of the elements of our history which help guests to understand who the Missionaries of Africa are today. In his presentation, Fr Sullivan reminded the attendees that the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Society is a moment to prompt the White Fathers of the task that God, working in and through their Founder and the Church, has entrusted to them s and which is still urgent today. This anniversary reminds them of St Paul’s words to Timothy: “fan into flame the gift that was given to you!” He concluded saying then that they are ‘apostles,’ as Lavigerie said: “Be apostles and nothing but apostles!”

This first part was followed by a talk given by Fr. Frans Bouwen on “The presence of the ‘White Fathers’ in Jerusalem.” In his presentation, Fr. Bouwen gave the main dates and events which characterized their history, to make easier the understanding of the presence of the Missionaries of Africa here in Jerusalem and their apostolate. Presently, the White Fathers’ community takes care of the holy site of the Pool of Bethesda and the Basilica given by France and welcomes pilgrims daily.

After a break, Fr. Gaetan Tiendrebeogo presented the film made by the Chemin Neuf community “Witnesses of the greatest love,” about the ‘martyrs of Algeria.’

Finally, three of the Missionaries students shared something of their personal experience of life with the Society. Bro. Nelson Ekeh shared his understanding on inter-culturalism and simplicity of life. Bro. Thierry Uyirwoth, speaking of community life, said: “I am treated as a mature person with respect and I have to take responsibility for my own growth. I consider it as one of the best ways of formation to become fully responsible for my life.” Finally, Bro. Belito Joaquim shared his commitment to JPIC (Comissão Diocesana da Justiça e Paz e Integridade da Criação) in Burkina Faso.

After a lunch together, the activities continued with the 2nd annual edition of the STS Sport Tournament at Burj al-laq laq.


Br. Steve DeMaio, SDB

March, 01 2019 - Israel Youth Hostel - Jerusalem  On Friday March 1st the STS students, along with some faculty members, were joined by the Mundelein Seminarians from Chicago for the annual Cultural Day, which this year had as its theme “Theatre and Theology”. We had the opportunity to travel off campus to the Israel Youth Hostel Association in order to participate in a presentation of what is known as “Bibliodrama.” Bibliodrama is defined as an experience “combining a close reading of biblical texts with searching, imaginative questions which offers people of all ages and levels of knowledge an opportunity to experience a method of creative study that since 1984 has changed the way we read the Bible.” ( The day was animated by Mrs. Yael Valier, a local theatrical producer and actress, members of her family, and other actors.

The STS community, as well as the American seminarians, were invited to explore the story of Joseph and his brothers in the book of Genesis by placing themselves in the middle of the drama as one of the characters. Mrs. Valier then led us to think more deeply, and perhaps in a different way than most of us were used to, in order to experience the biblical story in a more intimate way. Many of the students shared how it felt to be “in the shoes” of Joseph, his brothers, or even Jacob, the father. After a short break, Mrs. Valier and her team demonstrated various ways to “play back” the emotions and insights that we received after the close reading of the text. Many of us felt that the day was very helpful and that the methodology presented could be effective in teaching the Bible stories in a more appealing and interactive way, especially to the youth. For more information on the work that is being done by Mrs. Valier and her team you can visit

After our morning at the Youth Hostel, the STS and Mundelein communities gathered for a lunch at Ratisbonne Monastery. It was a great moment to meet new people and to have the chance to share our life experiences. All in all, the day was well received and gave us all a unique experience in reading the Bible.

Ms Yael Valier animates the group.
Practicing Biblical Technique
Ms. Yael responds to the questions.
The participants try Biblical Technique.


February 23 2019 - STS - Jerusalem On the Teaching Staff Study Day, held on 23rd February 2019, Rev. Dr. Fabio Pasqualetti gave a session for teachers on the uses of the Automatic Secretarial Service and the GeCo Learning Management System. In so doing, the Campus met the suggestion made by some professors about the convenience of offering a training program on the use of the UPS online learning platform.

Fr. Pasqualetti is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Social Communication in our University, and he holds the Chair of Communication Theory and Research. He received a Master's Degree in Telecommunication at the University of Michigan, and he completed his Ph.D. in Social Sciences at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

To those present at the morning sitting, the three-hour workshop was a profitable moment for an introduction to the many online-resources already available in our system, as well as a provocation for the renewal of didactic methods.

Fr. Fabio Pasqualetti gives a session for teachers


Edwar Gobran SDB

February 08 2019 - STS - Jerusalem On 8th February 2019, a colorful and memorable Opening Ceremony of the second semester was organized in our Faculty. This event was whole morning long and was held in the auditorium of our Athenaeum. In this interesting occasion, almost all of the students and the teachers from our University took part.

The ceremony commenced by the arrival of various students and professors. Then the Principal of the Faculty, Rev. Dr. Gustavo Cavagnari, started the first speech of the ceremony. He welcomed us warmly and started to underline the importance to be fully present and active in our career especially as future priests and people of good will. At the end of his speech he expressed gratitude to all of us especially for the positive results for the first semester.

The principal’s speech was followed by a very accurate and interesting conference given by Rev. Dr. Diego Sarrió Cucarella, the Principal of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI) at Rome, Italy. The talking was entitled “Muslim-Christian relations and interreligious dialogue from the White Fathers’ perspective and experience”. Fr. Sarrió started from a historical point of view, talking of the origin of the mission of the Missioners of Africa – also called the White Fathers – and continued describing its evolution up to today. Then he focused in particular on the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies. At the end of the conference the audience had the chance to make questions directly to the speaker. This moment gave us a deeper understanding of the Christian-Muslim relation and dialogue, and helped us to deepen issues like the relation between Islam and terrorism, the interpretation of the Quran, and the recent documents of Pope Francis about inter-religious dialogue and the common theological themes. The personal experience of Fr. Sarrió enriched our perspective on this topic.

Then we had a time of refreshment in a typical familiar Salesian style. Following, we gathered for the Students’ Assembly. At this moment we shared our ideas and suggestions with our Principal, and we ended this moment with the election of our new students’ representatives.

We really enjoyed a lot and dispersed with a sincere hope that the second semester could be a time of spiritual and intellectual growth. May God lead each of us to be fully committed in our duties.

The President's Address
Fr. Diego Sarrió presents his theme.
Fr. Gaetan animates the discussion.
FELIX INITIUM - Second Semester 2019


Morcha Chinapaidi Raju SDB

February 01-03 2019 - Galilee On Friday 1st February, the first-year students of the STS University, together with Fr. Gustavo, the Principal, and Fr. Piotr, our teacher and tour guide, travelled from Jerusalem to the region of Galilee. The first stop was Jericho where we were able to see from below the Mount of Temptation where Jesus spent forty days and forty nights before his public ministry. Jericho is mentioned in both the New and Old Testament. When Jesus entered Jericho, the “City of Palms”, the tax collector Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree to see him better and we stopped to take a look at this ancient tree.

We then visited the site where Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. The atmosphere was of happiness, with lots of singing and different groups wearing their traditional dress. We too renewed our baptismal vows. It was a wonderful and emotional experience. Our next stop on the journey was Magdala. It is close to Capernaum, and probably a place Jesus visited. A synagogue, market, houses, and more have been discovered so far. The synagogue has a beautiful mosaic floor and there is a rare stone on display. Mass was presided by Fr. Gustavo, followed by lunch overlooking the Sea of Galilee, after which we had the opportunity to take a boat ride on the same lake where Peter and the other Apostles fished. It was a peaceful and spiritual journey. We finished our day with a hike to Sussita National Park, where we visited the archaeological ruins of Hippos and watched a beautiful sunset. The ancient city was the central city of the Golan during the Hellenistic and Roman/Byzantine periods. The remains of eight churches have been found indicating its importance for Christians. After a long but enriching first day, we arrived at Casa Nova in Nazareth for dinner and a much-needed night’s rest.

On Saturday, we traveled to Nazareth Village, located on a site that was remarkably untouched and unchanged since Jesus time, where the last remaining fields worked by Jesus’ friends, family and fellow villagers have been preserved. After visiting the village, we drove to Tabgha where we had Mass at the church of the Primacy of Saint Peter and then visited the Benedictine church of the multiplication of loaves and fish. Following Mass, we visited Capernaum, the town of Jesus after he left his hometown of Nazareth. Peter, James, Andrew and John, as the tax collector Matthew, lived in the village, which gets a mention in all four of the New Testament gospels, and it was the place where Jesus established his base for preaching and miraculous healings. We admired the 4th century synagogue—under which are the remains of the early Roman synagogue from the times of Jesus built with the local black basalt rock—, the village, the octagon church and St. Peter’s house, as well as a variety of ruins and artifacts from the Roman period. We then enjoyed St. Peter’s fish for lunch.

After lunch we travelled to the place of the Sermon on the Mount, where the church of the Beatitudes is built on the slope. The Mount of Beatitudes is also understood to be the place where Jesus met his Apostles after his Resurrection and commissioned them to “make disciples of all nations”. We departed from there to Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. We enjoyed the time in the church as well as a taste of the famous wine. After another long but inspiring day we finished with dinner at Casa Nova.

The final day of our journey began with visits to the basilica of the Annunciation, St. Joseph’s church, Mary’s well, and the synagogue church. After our tour of the city of Jesus’ childhood, we drove to the place of his Transfiguration. Situated on the top of Mt. Tabor, with a beautiful view of the surrounding area, we celebrated Mass in the Franciscan church which is filled with stunning mosaics of Elijah, Moses and others. After Mass, we began our journey back to Jerusalem. We arrived at Ratisbonne Monastery exhausted, but filled with joy. This experience will be a moment that we will never forget.

Casa Nova - Nazareth
Re-baptized at Jordan
The church of the Primacy of Saint Peter
DUC IN ALTUM - Sailing the Peter's Boat