SJV’s inter-cultural day
The South Africans have chosen the 9th month of the year, September, to be a heritage month when they remind themselves of their cultural identities. On 11th September, as the community of the Saint John Vianney, a major catholic seminary in the Republic of South Africa, we had our annual inter-cultural day. This is one of the days we always anticipate on the seminary’s annual calendar. On this day we become aware of the diversities brought together to form the seminary community that we are. Thanks to Popes Pius IX and Benedict XV.
The Church historians record that one of the legacies of Pope Pius IX, who was fascinated by politics, is the launching of the Church beyond the boundaries of Europe into the whole world. However, he did not have a good method on how to partake this mission. The missionaries sent did not know anything with regard to inculturation, ‘the presentation of the supra-cultural elements of liturgy into new cultural forms.’ This meant that they had to influence the people they were evangelizing to so that they could adopt their European lifestyle. However, Pope Benedict XV resolved this problem by allowing local clergy who will understand the culture of their people.
One would agree that the efforts of these two Holy Fathers have given the world one cultural identity, Christianity (Catholicism). The Catholic Church, through seed of evangelizing to the whole world sown by Pope Pius IX, has proven herself to be a magnet that attracts most cultures of the global village. It is, therefore, no surprise that we have a seminary community with their members from different cultures and roots. As diverse as we are, we are brought together by the same Catholic values that we have. We are being attracted to this magnet of all cultures, the Catholic Church, which combines many cultures into a single one. In the seminary there are Coloured, Bhembas, amaZulu, emaSwati, amaXhosa, baSotho and others united by the Catholic faith.
On our 2015 inter-cultural day which always begin with the celebration of the Eucharist, Rev. Fr. Nhlanhla T. Mchunu who was the main celebrant stated in his homily that the missionaries who brought the gospel values or evangelized to us did not send themselves but they were sent by God to take up this mission. This profound point that the preacher made left him with no choice but to remind us that as seminarians, it is God who is calling us to the priesthood and not ourselves. In this Holy Mass, most of the liturgical music is culturally oriented and the community would be in the different traditional attires.
After the celebration of the Mass, the different cultural groups would have prepared their cultural food and drinks and we would have the priviledge of tasting and being exposed to it. For instance, chotla for the baTshwana, inhloko for amaZulu, chocha for the baSotho and others. After eating, we gather in the seminary hall where the different cultural groups show case their traditional dances, songs and everything related to their cultures.
One characteristic of friendship is mutuality. Friends, though different in person, have many things in common such as beliefs, religion, ideologies and others. The seminary community is also characterized by mutuality. Though from different cultural backgrounds, we share the same beliefs. Our cultures all integrate to one single culture characterized by Christian values. This is what we call a unity in diversity.