June 5 2018 - STS - Jerusalem On June 5, three STS Students successfully completed their Baccalaureate exams.

Alemayehu Bedassa Tura SDB successfully presented his Theological Synthesis, "To Imitate the Father, to Live in Christ and to Be Led by the Spirit as Distinctive Characteristics of Christian Life".

Olivier Ndayikengurukiye M.Afr successfully presented his Theological Synthesis, "The Multiform Action of the Word of God as Creating the World, as Actively Present in the Scriptures, as Incarnated for People's Salvation and as Sanctifying in the Sacraments".

Dominic Kondwani Kapatamoyo M.Afr successfully presented his Theological Synthesis, "The Family as the Vital Cell of Society and the Church. The Trinity’s Original Design for the Family: Contemporary Challenges and the Need for Pastoral Guidance".

Alemayehu Bedassa Tura SDB
Olivier Ndayikengurukiye M.Afr
Dominic Kondwani Kapatamoyo M.Afr


June 4 2018 - STS - Jerusalem On June 4, the summer session of Baccalaureate exams began.  Three STS Students successfully completed their Baccalaureate exams.

Mathew Nice Kurian SDB successfully presented his Theological Synthesis, "The Identity and Mission of Those Called to Follow Christ: Discipleship in Its Apostolic Origins and in Contemporary Christian Practice".

Raphael Patrick Sebyera Ndirenganya M.Afr successfully presented his Theological Synthesis, "Universality of the Call to Be Children of God".

Simon Chege Njuguna M.Afr successfully presented his Theological Synthesis, "Jesus Christ, the Only Mediator between God and Humanity, Who Fulfilled His Universal Salvific Mission in His Paschal Mystery and Makes It Operative Now through His Church".

Mathew Nice Kurian SDB
Raphael Patrick Sebyera Ndirenganya M.Afr
Simon Chege Njuguna M.Afr


May 17 2018  Studium Theologicum Salesianum  Jerusalem The STS is proud to announce that Fr. Andrzej Toczyski, SDB, Assistant Professor of Sacred Scripture and Biblical Languages, has published his first book, The ‘Geometrics’ of the Rahab Story: A Multi-Dimensional Analysis of Joshua 2.  This scholarly monograph was released on May 17, 2018 by Bloomsbury T & T Clark publishers in London, as part of the prestigious Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies series.  It is based on his 2015 Ph.D. dissertation at Heythrop College, University of London, written under the guidance of Dr. Ann Jeffers.

Fr. Andrzej uses chapter 2 of the book of Joshua, the story of Rahab the prostitute, as an example for examining the relationship between the biblical text and its readers.  What linguistic factors within the Hebrew text guide the reading process?  How have successive generations of readers influenced one another’s interpretations?  How can the power of storytelling (an under-appreciated dimension of the Rahab story) provide grounds for inter-cultural dialogue in our postmodern world?

By approaching the text from a number of different perspectives and combining several exegetical methods, Fr. Andrzej presents a view of Joshua 2 which is truly multi-dimensional, or “geometrical” as the title indicates.  This type of fresh approach, which employs methodology precisely and creative ways, characterizes the best of current biblical scholarship.  The STS warmly congratulates Fr. Andrzej on this professional milestone which represents a significant contribution to the study of the Bible in the Church and in the academic world.

More information on the text is available on the Bloomsbury Publishing Website.


May 9 2018  Tantur Ecumenical Institute  Jerusalem On May 9, 2018, more than 100 Christians, Jews, and Muslims attended the Conference on “Interfaith Climate Change and Renewable Energy”, intended to engage religious leaders and community members in discussing and promoting environmentally sustainable practices and the use of renewable energy.

As for previous similar initiatives and also for this occasion, the STS found it meaningful and thought-provoking.

In an ever-increasing number, many are of the opinion that religious institutions should be involved and stimulated to make good use of renewable energy and provide support to their leaders and communities over a sustained period. Pope Francis moved in this direction in Laudato Si’. In fact, different numbers of the Exhortation talk about the problem of a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels and on the need to substitute them by developing sources of renewable energy, even if such an endeavour would require the establishment of mechanisms and subsidies that allow developing countries access to technology transfer, technical assistance and financial resources.

Even recognizing that in many societies the priorities must be to eliminate extreme poverty and to promote the social development of their people, to acknowledge the ongoing pollution of the planet that cannot be undervalued. In this task, Catholic institutions have the potential to encourage a more efficient use of energy, to promote a better management of resources, to educate and actively help deploy solar and wind fields to bring electricity to their members, reduce indoor air pollution and deforestation, and curb climate change.

The full-working Day, organized in three Plenary Sessions – on “Climate Change and the Middle East: A scientific Perspective”, “The Religious Basis for Renewable Energy Use”, and “Renewable Energy Development on Regional Initiatives” –, two Breakout Workshops and an Ecological Walking Tour, was made even more pleasant by an assorted vegan lunch.

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of Jerusalem, stated: “There should be harmony and balance in creation, and we have to restore it. Fossil fuels exploit the earth in a sinful way, and pollution disrupts the harmony of creation. By contrast, renewable energies are respectful of harmony in creation.”

Dr. Alon Tal, Chair of the Department of Public Policy at Tel Aviv University, summed it up in stating: “In facing the challenge of climate change, faith and creed have a critical role to play in motivating the people of the planet to transform their personal and collective behaviour and practices. The climate crisis is not a crisis of technology, but one of values. In the age-old struggle between greed and generosity, religion has always had something to say.”

Rabbi Yonatan Neril, founder and director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, said that “the first chapter of Genesis states that God created luminaries the sun and the moon– to shine light on the Earth. An abundance of solar energy reaches the Earth and we can harvest that energy to enable clean power for billions of people.”

The day included various small group discussions
More than 100 Christians, Jews, and Muslims attended the Conference
Plenary Session featuring (from L to R) Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa (Apostolic Administrator of Jerusalem), Rabbi Yonatan Neril (Founder & Director of Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, Moderator), Yasmin Barhum (Facilitator at Living in the Levant) and Rabbi Yedidya Sinclair (Senior Rebbinic Scholar, Hazon)
Plenary Session featuring (from L to R) Dr Gershon Baskin (VP for Special Projects, Gigawatt Global, Moderator), Dr Giulia Giordano (International Affairs Manager, EcoPeace Middle East), Tahani Abu Daqqa (Former Minister of Culture, Palestinian Authority, Founder of Palestinian Solar Energy Association), Josef Abramowitz (CEO of Gigawatt Global)


Samuel Sesay SDB

May 3 2018 - Samaria - West Bank It was the last archaeological excursion for this academic year! The group of students left Jerusalem at 8:00am for Mount Gerizim, located south of Shechem and the Roman city of Neapolis. The visit would include Mount Gerizim in Samaria, Jacob’s well in Nablus, the tomb of John the Baptist and Ancient Shiloh.

The first site visited, Mount Gerizim, was quite interesting and educative for both history and faith formation. From the biblical perspective we know that Mount Gerizim is famous for the blessings and curses that the people of Israel proclaimed when Joshua led them into the land (Deuteronomy 11:29). The Samaritans came into the land after the Assyrian conquest of the Israelites. The Samaritans are believed to be descendants of the Jews, mainly from the tribe of Manasseh and Ephraim. The Samarians built a temple akin to the one in Jerusalem in the 5th century BC. It was eventually destroyed in 111 BC by the Hasmonean king John Hyrcanus. Nevertheless, the mountain is currently the place where the Samaritans’ highest population is found and where its religion is mostly practiced. Fr Piotr Zelazko, guide for the archaeological excursions all year, gave a detailed explanation of the ruins of the Roman city and other attractive sites there.

The next places visited, Jacob’s Well, the tomb of John the Baptist and ancient Shiloh, were no less interesting or educative. The Gospel of John gives a description of Jesus’ encounter with the Samarian woman at the well of Jacob, in a place called Sychar, close to the field given to Joseph by his father Jacob (John 4:5-6). One interesting thing that happened there was probably the solemn drinking of the water from Jacob’s Well by some pious students.

In ancient Shiloh, we saw a fascinating video, which gave a succinct but detailed summary of the events that happened in Shiloh during the time the Ark of the Covenant stayed there. We arrived in Jerusalem from Shiloh at 5:30pm, full with images of the different places we had seen during the day.

Fr Piotr Zelazko, guide for the archaeological excursions all year, gave a detailed explanation of the ruins of the Roman city and other attractive sites there.
The first site visited, Mount Gerizim, was quite interesting and educative for both history and faith formation.
The next places visited, Jacob’s Well, the tomb of John the Baptist and ancient Shiloh, were no less interesting or educative
The Gospel of John gives a description of Jesus’ encounter with the Samarian woman at the well of Jacob, in a place called Sychar, close to the field given to Joseph by his father Jacob


Exams for Bachelor's Degree Candidates will take place at the Studium Theologicum Theologicum in Jerusalem from June 4-9 and June 11, 2018.  There are 20 candidates for the Bachelor's Degree this year.

All examinations are open to the public for observation.  Below is the full schedule of examinations as well as a list of Subjects for Syntheses written by the candidates:


By Leonard Carlino SDB

April 6 2018 - Turkey On April 2 at 1 am, the students of the Studium Theologicum Salesianum boarded a bus for a 4 day visit of Turkey. Christians call the land of Turkey the cradle of the Church because of its importance in the Church immediately following the resurrection.

Our first day was focused on two things: arriving to Turkey from Jerusalem and the Goreme open air museum, home to the unique settlements of 4th century monks connected with St Basil the Great. The buildings are hewn from rocks formed by 9000 year old volcanic eruptions paired with millennia of erosion of the fine sediment.

On day 2 we visited two towns central to the life and ministry of St Paul. We began the day in Konya (known as Iconium at the time of Paul). In the early Church it was a significant Christian community. Today it is considered one of the most religious cities in Turkey due to the impact of Mevlana, a teacher of the Suffi Muslim philosophy and founder of the Dervish monasteries. Our visit, especially to the Mevlana museum, was eye opening to the impact of Islam and its beauty as a religious tradition.

Our second locale of focus was Antioch of Pisiddia. Paul stayed in this large ancient Roman city six times, including preaching in the citys synagogue (See Acts 13). The beauty of the area and presence of a temple dedicated to Augustus enlightens the practical things that Paul was referencing when speaking of the beauty of creation and the negative life of the pagans.

On our third day, after a long drive from the village of Pamukkale, where limestone and hot springs mix to create the white stones that give the town its name of Cotton Castle, we drove to the ancient city of Ephesus. This is the city where Paul lived for at least a year and a half in addition to the times of his multiple visits. We saw the streets he would have been familiar with, the theatre where his disciples Gaius and Aristarchus were brought before the crowd, and the local squares where he would have spoken regularly. It was this city of 25,000 people that was the home to one of the earliest Christian communities, mentioned by John in the book of Revelation, as one of the seven Churches to whom God spoke (See Rev 2:1-7). Finishing our visit, we stayed at the Church of Mary, built on the outskirts of the city, and place where the Council of Ephesus gathered in 431 for proclaiming Mary as the Mother of God (Theotokos).

After lunch we visited also the House of Mary. In the 19th century a German nun, blessed Catherine Emmerich, had a dream where she saw the location of the homestead. Having never been to Ephesus, she was able to describe the area in great detail. A local priest explored the area and found a 4th century building over a 1st century foundation. It was an experience to pray at this location inside the house alongside Muslim pilgrims from Turkey (Mary is mentioned five times as worthy of praise as being the Mother of Jesus).

At the end of an awe-inspiring trip we spent the day in Istanbul. This city showcases how Turkey is a cross between Arab/Ottoman tradition and Western culture. The Basilic of the Hagia Sofia (today, a Museum) and the Blue Mosque not only witness the ability of humanity when it comes to architecture and design, but also the rich history of this region. The images of these magnificent places speak for themselves.

The highlight of the day was visiting the Cathedral of St Esprit, administered by the Salesians. It was a great moment of Salesian family spirit as we were greeted by the Rector of the community, Pastor of the Cathedral, Principal of the school, and the German Provincial on visitation to the community.

It is opportunities such as these that make the experience for an STS student, different than anywhere else in the world. To be at the heart of history, both global and biblical, and experience these locations in lived experience, is simply priceless.

Mass at a chapel in Cappadocia
The group pictured at Antioch of Pisidia
The group in front of the Celsus library in Ephesus
The trip was filled with great meals highlighting the rich cuisine of Turkey
The highlight of the day in Istanbul was visiting the Cathedral of St Esprit, administered by the Salesians


By Tresor Lulenga Amani, M.Afr.

March 26 2018 - Haram Al-Sharif  Jerusalem Joining our guide, Fr. Leopold Vonck M.Afr., as well as the STS Principal, Fr. Gustavo Cavagnari SDB, the first-year students visited the Haram Al-Sharif, a sacred place for both Judaism, as the site of the old Temple, and Islam, as the place of Mohammed’s ascension into heaven. The square, occupying the 1/6 of the Old City, has still some importance for us, Christians, as the site was frequented by Jesus himself many times, even His apostles, and many pilgrims in the past.

At first before entering, we gathered at the Dung gate and then proceeded inside the complex to first see some tombs of venerated Muslims. The Al-Aqsa Mosque, or real site of prayer, and the Haram al-Sharif, or the Muslim Noble Sanctuary”, stand out in the complex. The later, built on top of the ruins of the Jewish Temple, is one of the most magnificent Islamic monuments with the famous golden “Dome of the Rock. Fr. Vonck highlighted the architectural art-decoration from the time of Mamluk period and the many Mastbat or open-air platforms for prayer; also, some attractive fountains like the Sabil Qa’it Bay, useful in many ways, especially for washing one’s feet before prayer in the mosque.

The visit continued to The Qanatir with some stairs and special columns, two of which are made from the ancient Christian columns of some churches and arches even probably from the Temple. We progressed to investigate some small domes (Qubba): like the dome of Moses, of the winds or spirits, of St. George or St. Elijah (Qubbat-al-Khadir), the Qubbat al-Mi’raj (Dome of the Ascension of the Prophet), the Qubbat al-Nabi (Dome of the Prophet or Gabriel) and many other interesting domes. Afterwards we saw the mistakenly called Golden gate, thought to be the site of the healing by St. Peter of the lame man (cf. Acts 3:1-10).

Finally, we went outside the Haram Al-Sharif square to the Davidson Center Jerusalem Archeological Park, just a few steps away from the Western Wall. In this park we saw some remains of the Jewish Temple built by Herod the Great, especially the re-use of stones from the said Temple. One stone is thought to be the sight of the place of trumpeting prior to the Sabbaths. We saw the Mikveh’ot or pubic ritual baths, the main gate and the famous Robinson’s arch, the double gates and the remains of the Ophel wall of the 1st Solomon’s Temple, trying also to understand the Jewish culture surrounding the Temple on the use of the coins, the way forward for sacrifice. A great and educational experience was had by all.

Fr Vonck speaks about the history of the Haram Al-Sharif
The Dome of the Rock
The Southern Wall
The group at the Haram Al-Sharif


By Vladimir Plasek SDB / Leonard Carlino SDB

March 12 2018 - Notre Dame Center Jerusalem On March 12, the STS students and prof.s participated in “The Integral Ecology by Pope Francis for Safeguarding of the Common Home”, a Conference focused on Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato si. The conference was animated by the General Office for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land (JPIC). It was also held under the patronage of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the Apostolic Delegation of the Holy See to Jerusalem and Palestine, and the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land. The location of the conference was the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.

The day began with welcoming comments from Fr. Giorgio Vigna OFM, Custodial animator JPIC, and Fr. Francesco Patton OFM, Custos of the Holy Land. Dr. Beatrice Guarrera, Journalist of the Custody of the Holy Land, gave a brief outline of the encyclical Laudato si’. Following this introduction, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for promoting Integral Human Development, took the stage to speak of the encyclical in light of recent church history, practical theology, and inter-religious dialogue. Cardinal Turkson highlighted that the encyclical was not a “new invention”, but has been built up through the Churches ministry and reflection, especially in the last 200 years. Hints and building blocks for the integral ecology emphasized in the encyclical can be find in such documents as Rerum Novarum, Mater et Magistra, Gaudium et Spes, Populorum Progressio, and Octogesima Advenies. Saint Pope John Paul II especially emphasized the interaction of the human person and creation in Redemptor Hominis. This document presented three theses: The nature of the human person is primary, natural sources are not all renewable, and ecological pollution has effects on the human person, thereby making morality a sine qua non issue for understanding the world and the nature. Pope Benedict XVI further developed these themes of nature, human, and social justice by uniting them under the banner of “Peace”, developing a covenant language in speaking of the interactions of nature and man, and emphasizing anthropology and the narrative of the “Dignity of the Person”.

The following presentation was given by Prof. Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi, Director and Founder of the Wasatia Academic Graduate Institute. Prof. Dajani Daoudi highlighted the Muslim view of the man-nature relationship and emphasized its correlation with Christian and Jewish traditions. He also brought in some practical reflections on moderation versus extremism in correcting issues, giving both politico-social and pedagogical examples that he has personally interacted with. The afternoon sessions included presentations by R. David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs, and the Economist Stefano Zamagni, Professor at the University of Bologna and Member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Rabbi Rosen outlined the image of an Integral Ecology from a Jewish perspective, looking primarily at Scriptural, Talmudic, and Midrashic sources. Such traditions as the sabbatical year and the food and food preparation traditions show forth the principles of divine ownership, creative partnership, and responsibility. Prof. Zamagni presented the economic and market implications of Pope Francis’ presentation. He pointed out that Pope Francis presented three main theses in this encyclical, namely the reduction of poverty and sustainable development are “two sides of the same coin”, the ecosystem is a global common good, and there should be more focus on biodiversity.

Cardinal Turkson closed the day by identifying 7 “C’s” of the encyclical, and in term theme of our practice of Integral ecology. Such an ecology is in continuity with the church tradition, collegiality with the global bishop’s conferences, built on communication of dialogue with other Christian, Abrahamic, and world religions, is based on a care which itself is custody, but all requires conversion, contemplation, and compassion of our hearts. The event as a whole was not only informative and reflection-encouraging on this theme of ecology for the STS students and professors, but also a great moment of inter religious dialogue of life based on a shared concern and value.

Photos from Custodia website, ©Nadim Asfour/CTS

From L to R: Fr Francesco Patton OFM, Dr Beatrice Guarrera, Fr Giorgio Vigna OFM
Cardinal Turkson highlighted that the cyclical was not a “new invention”, but has been built up through the Churches ministry and reflection, especially in the last 200 years.
Prof. Dajani Daoudi highlighted the Muslim view of the man-nature relationship and emphasized its correlation with Christian and Jewish traditions
Rabbi Rosen outlined the image of an Integral Ecology from a Jewish perspective
Prof. Zamagni presented the economic and market implications of Pope Francis’ presentation


From the Foreword:

In the present book, Father Dennis Kasule has done us the service of bringing together Tillard's and von Balthasar's ecclesiologies, with careful attention to their different methods, images for the Church, principles for reading Scripture, recourse to the Church Fathers, attitude toward St. Thomas Aquinas, understandings of spirituality, and general emphases.  Tillard's Eucharistic ecclesiology, which is rooted in Christ and the Spirit, is compared and contrasted with von Balthasar's Cross-centered, Marian and Petrine understanding of the Church.  Father Kasule makes a powerful case for the complementarity of Tillard's and von Balthasar's approaches.  In so doing, he mounts a marvelous defense of the fruitfulness of their two sets of concerns, pursued within the bounds marked out by the documents of Vatican II.

Father Dennis Kasule teaches at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. He is an assistant professor in the departments of pre-theology, dogmatic and pastoral theology, Associate Dean of Formation, and Director of the Holy Pilgrimage. He did his doctoral studies at Boston College and University of St. Mary of the Lake. He is a priest of the Archdiocese of Kampala in Uganda.