The annual Dies Academicus brought together the students, faculty and friends of Jerusalem’s Studium Theologicum Salesianum (STS) on Saturday 16th October 2021 in thanksgiving for the past academic year and in a renewed commitment for the year ahead.
Fr Andrzej Toczyski SDB opened the day by welcoming attendees and thanking the recently appointed Papal Nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Adolfo Yllana, for his presence. An excellent video production reviewed the key moments of the academic year 2020/21 and recalled the challenges and adaptations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the many archaeological excursions made across the Holy Land and the fun and fraternity shared by all those studying together at STS.
All students were congratulated on their academic achievements during the past year by Sr Angela Ridout SJA, who revealed the highest exam scores and presented an award to Matteo Vignola SDB for his achievements in the third year of his studies.
Fr Eric Wyckoff SDB introduced the new STS students who hail from Europe, Africa and Asia. The community welcomed them all and waits in hope for the arrival of those students whose arrivals have been delayed by the global pandemic.
The newly appointed rector of the Tantur Ecumenical Institute, Fr John M. Paul SJ, spoke to the gathering about the work undertaken at Tantur to encourage Christian companionship and unity, promote encounter with followers of other faiths and work for world peace and justice. Father Paul reminded the students and staff of STS that our cultural diversity and experiences of life here in the Holy Land “will be taken back home and put into practice to build bridges.”
After a break for refreshments and the taking of the community photograph, a student choir of Salesians, Brothers of Zion and Missionaries of Africa sang a rendition of ‘Ave Maria’ before Fr Stan Swamikannu SDB, Rector of the Salesian Community, welcomed the main speaker Rev. Fr Dr George Schultze SJ.
Fr George’s talk – ‘Of all things visible and invisible: Postmodernism and Unbelief’ – presented the philosophical and social struggles with permanence and change and how they undermine the foundations of knowledge and boundaries of conduct. Fr George pointed out that “human beings do not invent what is true but rather discover it… yet prideful cultural influencers of every generation try to invent their own truth.” The fascinating talk was delivered with great insight and conviction by Fr Schultze, who urged the gathering to recognise “categories, boundaries, limits, and norms do have good and useful qualities” and use the formula “see, judge, act” for engagement with the postmodern world.
The Dies Academicus is always an important milestone and high-point of the academic year. This year we give particular thanks for our safety and steadfastness during the trials of COVID-19 and we pray for God’s blessing on our studies in this school of His service.
- Justin Robinson OSB
October 16, 2021