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.

Fr. Dave presents the history of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa through 150 years.
Fr. Frans Bouwen gives a talk about the presence of the ‘White Fathers’ in Jerusalem.
The jubilee's cake
Fr. Gaetan presents the movie “Witnesses of the greatest love.”
Bro. Belito shares his commitment to JPIC.
Bro. Nelson shares his understanding on inter-culturalism and simplicity of life.
Bro. Thierry speaks about the community life.


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.” (www.bibliodrama.com) 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 www.theaterandtheology.com.

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


Francis Mbiyu Hiuhu SDB

November 22 2018 - STS - Jerusalem The Salesian Pontifical University- Jerusalem Campus (STS) hosted its 1st Sports tournament for the Academic Year 2018/2019. It took place in the astonishing facilities of the Kraft Park and was an afternoon filled with fervor and excitement, experienced amidst thrills, shrills and cheers. The chief guest for the day was Rev. Fr. Ivo Coelho sdb, the Councillor for Formation. With three teams it was a great opportunity for the students to show a great level of sport skills. The afternoon started off with lovely salutations to the Lord Almighty, followed by the kicking off of the games by the chief guest. This was followed by the highly competitive event where the three teams vied for the first place.

In the match against the Vicenzo Romano team, the Francesco Spinelli team played against a very tough side and, although they played valiantly, they equaled 1-1. In the other two matches, which were perhaps the most competitive of the tournament, the Oscar Romero team played the Vicenzo Romano and Francesco Spinelli teams. In the first game the Vicenzo Romano team narrowly lost 1-2, which was terribly unlucky as they had a disallowed goal. When the Francesco Spinelli team played the Oscar Romero team, they were beaten more convincingly 1-0. In the finals, Oscar Romero played Vicenzo Romano and convincingly won 2-0, emerging as the winners of the STS Tournament 2018/2019. The man of the tournament was Agbo Alpheus Chima, with good captaincy shown by Syan Naing Htun Clement. Unfortunately however, by the end of the match we had few injuries.

The audience next witnessed various displays symbolizing alternative sources of energy. The games organized for the students and the teaching staff saw an impressive participation. At the end of the day, students and staff departed with a clear smile on their faces as the Oscar Romero team emerged as the winning Champions. Despite the chills and the rains, everyone had a fantastic afternoonIt was a day filled with sportsmanship, enthusiasm and memories to cherish.

A scene of attacking the goal
The viewers watched the match
It was a wonderful day!


Gianluca Villa SDB

November 07 2018 - STS - Jerusalem Our third and final archaeological excursion of this semester led by our brilliant guide, Professor Piotr Zelazko, was a visit to the ancient cities of Ashqelon, Lachish and Gath, situated in the flatland between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean Sea, one hour‘s distance from the Holy City by car. Providence blessed us with fine weather that helped us appreciate the archaeological sites and their histories.

The first city visited was Ashqelon. It is a coastal city on the Mediterranean coast fifty kilometres south of Tel Aviv, and thirteen kilometres north of the border with the Gaza Strip, today belonging to the Southern District of Israel. In the course of its history, it has been ruled by the Ancient Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Phoenicians, Hasmoneans, Romans, Persians, Arabs and Crusaders, until it was destroyed by the Mamluks in 1270. Worthy to be seen are the ruins of the very ancient Canaanite Gate, of the old Roman Basilica and of the Byzantine Church. All these places are reachable by walking and enjoyable by the path along the ruins of the city walls.

Forty minutes eastward from Ashqelon by bus we reached what remains of the city of Lachish: nowadays an archaeological site and an Israeli national park. According to the book of Joshua, the Israelites captured and destroyed Lachish for joining the league against the Gibeonites. The territory was later assigned to the tribe of Judah and became part of the Kingdom of Israel. Of the cities in ancient Judah, Lachish was second in importance only to Jerusalem. According to the prophet Jeremiah, Lachish was one of the last two Judean cities before the conquest of Jerusalem.

The last, but not the least site we visited was the probable ruins of Gath, referred to as Gath of the Philistines, one of the five Philistine city-states, established in north-western Philistia. Gath is often mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, in the books of Joshua, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, and its existence is confirmed by Egyptian inscriptions. The site most favoured as the location of Gath is the archaeological mound or tell known as Tel Zafit in Hebrew, located inside Tel Zafit National Park, but a stone inscription revealing the name of the city has yet to be discovered. Furthermore, this site could be very important, because some passages of the Bible suggest that is not impossible, though less probable, that the Ark of the Covenant might be lost in this place.

Archaeological excursions are one of the best experiences offered by our Faculty. Walking on historical sites like these one can really better understand and imagine what happened in the events accounted in the Bible. These moments are a real enrichment of our academic knowledge and a great help for our own spirituality.

Walking to the ancient city - Gath
The remains of the Saint Mary Viridis Church at Ashquelon
Fr Piotr speaks about a ruined building at Ashqelon


Sathish Paul SDB

October 25 2018 - Nimrod Fortress - Golan Heights On 25th October, we, the students of STS, Jerusalem, took part in the Archeological Excursion presided over by Fr. Piotr Zelazko - the Professor of Biblical Archaeology, History and Geography. Our destination was the Nimrod Fortress, situated at the foot of Mount Hermon. It is one of the largest medieval Ayyubid castle in all of Israel, a mountain-top stronghold dating back to the 13th century.

In the morning we began our journey by bus and 4 hours later we reached the astounding fortress. As we drove up, we enjoyed the view of the Golan. So wonderful were the lush Baniyas forests with the rivers and waterfalls. We had an exploratory expedition viewing Israel’s highest and only snow-capped mountain, Mount Hermon. At midday we reached the summit and had a bird’s eye view. The ruins of Nimrod Fortress were really beautiful and well-preserved, a truly visible snapshot of history.

Fr. Piotr, our charismatic guide, explained some interesting details about that place and we were captivated by his facts. The Arabic inscriptions that remain there were really amazing and they took us back to antiquity. We saw the gates, the Beautiful Tower, the large reservoir, the moat, the secret passage, and a number of other aspects of the fortress. It was a thrilling experience to observe the way in which the people those days endured during the war. We were climbing from one fortress to the remains of the other fortress within the main one, listening to our guide, who narrated those rich and fascinating events of the past.

Then we travelled down and sojourned for lunch. Then we reached the Ancient Katzrin Jewish Village, a well-preserved ancient space with a lived experience of Jewish antiquities of the 1st century. We saw the wine press, the synagogue and the type of house they used to live in, etc. We felt as if we were going into the past to live the lifestyle of that Jewish community. We saw a typical family house of the Talmudic period with its unique engineering structure.

We felt so fortunate to visit such legendary places full of breathtaking natural beauty. It was indeed an amazing experience for every one of us.

View of the Nimrod Fortress from the entrance
A beautiful example of Ayyubid architecture
Walking through the fortress with Fr Piotr


Calvin Akunga M.Afr

October, 19 2018 - Yad Vashem - Jerusalem I do not how it was arrived at, but it is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. To this, add sound and motion and you probably have a behemothic library! The ‘library’ that is Yad Vashem includes documents, photographs, interviews, videos, testimonies, artifacts, scale models of institutions and even some relics. It arranges its ‘books’ in such a way that the story it tells remains etched in the memory. In so doing, it fulfils its raison d’être. Under the guidance of Fr. David Neuhaus SJ, Guest Professor of Judaism and Old Testament, the student body of the Studium Theologicum Salesianum completed a visit of the site, commemorating the Holocaust and the foundational events of the State of Israel. The whole exercise took just under four hours.

After an explanation of the roots of the Shoah, the pilgrimage began with a silent, prayerful ascent through the garden. Here, the rough-cut dwarf pillars, set in labyrinthine fashion was counterbalanced by a beautifully manicured lawn with an orderly arrangement of trees. The former bears the names of decimated villages and towns while the latter commemorates individuals who “gave up their lives for their friends”, the so called “Righteous Among the Nations”. It served as an excellent transition to the next phase, which began one-and-a-half hours later: the visit of the main hall. Its construction takes the form of a long tunnel, triangular in cross-section, covering over 4000 square metres. Most of it is subterranean, progressively ascending to a skylight at the end: from the dark moments to the years of triumph. The 10 display halls within it flow one into the next, mirroring a page-to-page reading of history. Each ‘page’ is thoroughly engaging, with throngs jostling to browse through the content. It seems that visitors and guides looking askance at each other, a shove here and there and the occasional elbow in the rib are par for the course; likewise, people shaking their heads in shock and dismay at the horror of the Holocaust.

Yes, Yad Vashem’s narration takes the liberty of appealing to people’s emotions, with or without their permission. We might have been in a group, yet everyone was affected personally. That said, certain common posers remain: how do supposedly erudite individuals conduct high-level meetings to construct an efficient, economic death machine, for use on the very species that they themselves represent? How can any group of people claim superiority over another on grounds of race, religion, gender or any other imaginable discriminant? How was all this ultimately permitted? What are the lessons learnt?

What is clear to us is that the visit was not simply about reading history. It was about studying the story through Christian glasses, their lenses being the Gospel values and the frame being a balanced criticism. The Shoah is an element of the past that needs to be soberly integrated into the reality of both who we are as Christians and what we need to do. The conclusion might not have been anything new, but it was unmistakably palpable: what happened must never happen again to any society. A debriefing of our experience led to an enigmatic twist to the opening of this article: indeed, a picture can tell a thousand words, but certain words can change the whole story. As Father David said, there are parallels to the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord, but this is only an element of a much thicker, complex plot. I dare affirm that all doubts were quelled: interreligious dialogue is a Christian imperative.

Fr David speaks about the history of Yad Vashem
A train cab from the time of the holocaust


Michał Jeszke SDB

September 29 2018 - STS - Jerusalem The Opening Ceremony of the new Academic Year 2018-2019 of the Studium Theologicum Salesianum, in conjunction with the Dies Academicus, took place on September 29, 2018. The celebration began with a Eucharist presided by Fr. David Sullivan, M.Afr., the new Director of studies of the Seminary of the Missionaries of Africa. The liturgy was an occasion for the lectures of our University to make a public profession of Catholic faith.

After the Mass we gathered in the Don Bosco Hall for the main function. Firstly, Rev. Sr. Angela Ridout SJA, registrar of our Faculty, presented the report of the Academic Year 2017-2018, highlighting the beginning of the transition from triennium to biennium as well as remembering many initiatives in which we participated. This summary was completed by a video presentation made by Bro. Krzysztof Słapczyński SDB.

Following, words of welcome and encouragement were given by the Principal of the STS, Rev. Fr. Gustavo Cavagnari SDB, who also introduced the topic of the lectio magistralis. Quoting Lucetta Scarafia he underlined the necessity of reflecting upon the issue of women in the Church and society. Fr. Principal read messages sent on the occasion by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM, Apostolic Administrator of the Holy Land, Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine, Fr. Jean Jacques Pérennès OP, Dean of École Biblique in Jerusalem, and Fr. Damasio Medeiros SDB, Dean of the Faculty of Theology of the Salesian Pontifical University.

Afterwards Fr. Matthew Coutinho SDB presented our fellow students who had received the highest marks in the year 2017-2018, namely Bro. Jude Fernando SDB from the 3rd year, Bro. Parfait Balma M.Afr. from the 2nd year, and Bro. Calvin Akunga M.Afr. from the 1st year. The first part of our gathering concluded with the presentations of the new students made by Fr. Moses Wanjala SDB and that of the new staff members made by Fr. Andrzej Toczyski SDB.

The highlight of the day was the lectio magistralis of Sr. Shalini Mulackal PBVM, Professor of Systematic Theology at Vidyajyoti College of Theology, Delhi, India. Sr. Shalini was the first woman President of the Indian Theological Association from 2014-2017. After an introductory speech given by Fr. Stanislaus Swammikanu SDB, Sr. Shalini presented her conference entitled: “Gender Sensitivity in Theologizing”. In her lecture she focused on the analysis of the situation of women in society and the role of theology in the process of their appreciation. Our Chief Guest challenged all to rediscover a woman’s place in theological reflection. She stated: “doing theology from the context of women who are subject to various discriminations and whose dignity and rights are negated far too often is not an option of theologians any longer (…). It is a Gospel imperative.” In conclusion, Sr. Shalini postulated that we ought to be practicing theology more sensitive to the fate of women, suggesting a pastoral implications empowering theme and including women into a theologizing process.

Our guest-speaker’s address was followed by short Q&A session, moderated by Fr. Stanislaus. Afterwards, whilst thanking Sr. Shalini Mulackal for her presentation, Sr. Angela remarked that Pope Francis “stressed that the Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution women make through their sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skills. He stated his delight to see how many women are offering new contributions to theological reflection.”

The whole morning concludes with the official photo session.

Filled with many inspirational thoughts we began the new Academic Year, honoured by the occasion to deepen theological knowledge in the Land of Jesus Christ.

Fr. David Sullivan, M.Afr., presides at the mass of the Archangels for the start of the year
Fr Gustavo Cavagnari SDB delivers his opening comments
The first year students being introduced by Fr Moses Wanjala SDB
Sr Shalini delivers the lectio magistralis
A beautiful day comes to a close