Farewell to the Final Years 2015
On the 29th April the seminary community bade farewell to the final year students. The ceremony was opened by the Eucharistic celebration, celebrated by the Seminary Rector and concelebrated by Seminary formators, Religious student masters and other visiting priests. We had a pleasure of hosting some several visitors who came to celebrate with the seminary community and the final years. The final year class consists of sixteen students, ten of which come from different Dioceses from all over South Africa, and six of them belong to various religious congregations and orders.
The Homily during mass was given by Fr. Thanduxolo Mbhele who is acting Dean of Studies and the formator of the final years. In his homily Fr. Thanduxolo preached about the light of the Easter candle which reminds us of our communion with Christ. He said that this light is not a light to be marveled at from a distance but one that longs for our fellowship. And fellowship with God means, among other things, walking in His light! Becoming children and ambassadors of light. He continued to advise the final years that “Priesthood is about service: We are proudly sending you back to your respective dioceses as young men ready to serve…ready to bring about God’s light at a time when the struggle with darkness has become quite fierce. May the light of Christ shine anew in and through you”.
He emphasized the fact the students are not going to a totally dark world, or to totally dark dioceses, No! Christ has never stopped to work through his servants before you…. even when it looked like nothing was happening, He was….He is and will always be in charge of his Church!…Therefore, be humble and ready to learn from those ahead of you in ministry. He concluded his homily by encouraging the final years to Live out and practice their priesthood generously…never sparing yourselves!
Our celebration continued after mass at the hall. Among other speakers was the Seminary Rector who quoted Fr. Ronald Knott, who referred to the seminary as “a place where seeds are germinated and plants are propagated for transplantation.” He continued to assert that seminary is not a permanent locus but “a temporary, protected, controlled and intensely monitored environment where budding plants are nurtured until they are mature enough to survive transplantation and thrive in a normal growing environment.” He warned the students that “Priesthood is not for cowards or the faint hearted. Priesthood requires that you be men of faith, humility and inner strength to act in persona Christi capitis. It is about having the zeal of the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.
The Rector encouraged the students never to despair, in desert moments, and conclude that they have made a mistake by being a priest. But all they will have to do is to conquer that desert and enable others through their own desert experiences.
He emphasised that ‘people need mature men who are servants, competent and who are leaders. “The last thing the Church today needs is yet another needy, immature little boy in a Roman collar who could not make it in the real world.” Using the words of St. Paul he said that People expect priests who are “strong, loving, and wise” You are young and scared like Timothy, but “the Spirit God gave us is no cowardly spirit, but rather one that makes us strong, loving and wise” (II Tim 1:7). As strong leader is one who has integrity, discipline, courage, and confidence.
He encouraged the final years to be holy and effective priests, to be prophets. Here I’m not talking about predicting the future. Being nasty, angry, and spreading hateful messages doesn’t make one a prophet. You must be true prophets who speak the truth with love. He further advised them to be careful of the leveller priest syndrome: “anything he can do I can do it better” Avoid jealousy and competiveness. By now you should know your own gifts.
Don’t be perpetual adolescent priests. The one who wears an All Star and denim jeans all the time regardless of the occasion, the one ophethe istyle/ o ja joy, ke le gintsha, but who never wears the clerical garb. A man who associate only with the youth. The rector concluded by warning the young men to Avoid also being the “Saviour” priest. The workaholic priest. Here is an advice and some practical wisdom for you from St. Charles Borromeo: “Are you exercising the care of souls? Do not thereby neglect yourself. Do not give yourself to others to such an extent that nothing is left of yourself for yourself. You should certainly keep in mind the souls, but without forgetting yourself.”
On this note we say once more Farewell brothers, all the best in your new ministry. Pray for us and we will pray for you.