by Adam Dupré, Jarek Budny & Romero D'Souza
ISRAEL, NOV 24, 2015: On November 19, the occasion of the Annual Day - DIES ACADEMICUS- the Jerusalem Campus of the Salesian Pontifical University (STS), hosted Archbishop of Poznan Stanislaw Gądecki, also the President of the Polish Bishop's Conference, member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and a member of the Synod on the Family; who delivered the Lectio Magistralis on "The Synod on the family and its interpretation of the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and contemporary world."
The Rector of the Salesian Monastery Ratisbonne, Father Andrew Wong gave the welcome speech quoting Saint John Bosco, "education is a matter of the heart," reminding everyone of their role as educators and that they needed to look forward at the world with hope and love, educating the faithful in matters that concern the heart. The choir of the STS then sang the "Laudate Omnes Gentes."
The guests of honour at the function were - Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Auxiliary Bishop William H Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop Giancinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Archbishop Joseph Jules Zerey and Father Damasio Raimundo Santos De Medeiros, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, Salesian Pontifical University, Rome.
The Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, expressed his joy at being present on the occasion and shared the importance of the usefulness and the need of theology especially in Israel where there is violence and tragedy with regard to life, faith and religion. He spoke about the importance of having a center of higher studies in a place like Jerusalem. "Today we open two new diplomas. This is a sign of vitality of this institution. These diplomas are a great start to creating bonds of fraternity between this institution and the surrounding community of Jerusalem. These diplomas will assist the students in truly becoming educators."
The two new Pontifical Diplomas in Biblical Geography and History and in Inter-religious Dialogue and History, were then launched. The officially appointed Teaching Coordinators for each course are Father Andrzej Toczyski and Father William Russell.
Father Toczyski spoke about the common phrase of "the Holy Land being the fifth gospel". It will facilitate the students in leading pilgrimages and Bible studies in the places where they are assigned after the completion of their studies. He then invited Archbishop Lazzaroto to officially unveil the new Diploma for Biblical History and Geography.
Father William Russell pointed out that while Inter-religious Dialogue and ecumenism are different topics they are integrally related. The unity of the Church is at the service of humanity. Inter-religious Dialogue seeks to build trust and knowledge of one another. Acknowledging the differences we have, it fosters respect for each other and our common love for humanity. He then invited Bishop William Shomali to officially unveil the new Diploma in Inter-religious Dialogue and Ecumenism.
Deacon Tomasz Sage then introduced Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, President of the Polish Bishops' Conference. Archbishop Gądecki then discussed the essential pastoral guidelines for family life: "language of conversion" - to know and develop the sense of moral principles and values in marriage and family; "education for the proper use of sexuality" – the primary and pedagogical importance of virtues and its integration and application in spheres such as intellectual, emotional, moral, social, sexual and spiritual; "proper preparation for the wedding liturgy" – to deepen the Christian doctrine on marriage and family, with practical emphasis on the moral duty and responsibility through frequent opportunities of catechesis; "pastoral accompaniment" – especially in the first years of marriage during which the couples grows in the awareness of the challenges and the importance of marriage and the fundamental attitude of acceptance of the great gift of a child.
The Lectio Magistralis was followed by a time of dialogue on the topic with Archbishop Gądecki . Some questions were raised, especially with regard to issues such as the annulment of marriage, the cases of divorce and remarriage to which he responded in a very friendly manner.
Father Damasio Raimundo Santos De Medeiros, dean of the faculty of theology, Salesian Pontifical University, Rome then presented a medal of the university to Father Pier Giorgio Gianazza honouring his contribution as professor emeritus. Father Biju read an exhortation from the Chancellor of the UPS. The document recalled the achievements of the life of Father Gianazza. "He has inspired many to love the scripture, theology and the Church." Father Gianazza was then honoured with a gift on behalf of UPS Jerusalem.
The event concluded with the STS choir singing "Spirit of God". Sister Angela Ridout, registrar and secretary of STS, then gave the vote of thanks to the dignitaries, the teaching staff, the students and the participants. A special thanks was mentioned to the Academic Council for their efforts to organise the annual day 2015-2016.