The Installation of the Very Reverend Father Paul Manci as Rector and Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders, 17th February 2016
By: Vincent de Comarmond
The 17th of February 2016 saw no less than two Archbishops and four Bishops grace St John Vianney National Seminary for the installation of Fr Paul Manci as the rector of the seminary and the admission to candidacy for Holy Orders of the first year theology class. The celebration was presided over by his Excellency Bishop Dabula Mpako of Queenstown. He was accompanied by his Grace Archbishop William Slattery of Pretoria, his Excellency Bishop John Tlhomola of Mohale’s Hoek (Lesotho), his Excellency Bishop Pius Dlungwane of Marinhill, his Excellency Bishop Xolelo Kumalo of Eshowe and his Excellency Bishop Jeremiah Masela of Polokwane. The ceremony followed the norm for a Mass, with the installation of the Rector taking place directly after the homily followed by the admission to candidacy. There were also some notable speeches at the end of the Mass.
In Bishop Dabula Mpako’s opening remarks, he reminded those gathered of what Pope Francis has said regarding vocations. Notably, the Pope has said that vocations are like rough diamonds that need to be polished with care during the formation process so that they may shine among the faithful. The Bishop went on to explain that this is why all gathered should pray for Fr Manci. The first reading, Jonah 3:1-10, regarding the prophet’s successful conversion of Nineveh was the focus of the Bishops homily. After thanking everyone who made it possible for Fr Manci to assume the responsibility of being rector of St John Vianney National Seminary (including Fr Manci himself for accepting), the Bishop considered the feelings faced by the prophet Jonah after first receiving his call. Jonah, he said, must have had feelings of unworthiness, despair and must have struggled with the temptation to run away. However, the Bishop pointed out that when one submits to the will of God, everything works out for the good. He went on to point out that we students, like Jonah, can hesitate initially but must say yes eventually and learn to submit firstly to God, then to the process of formation and finally to the staff.
The installation of Fr Paul Manci as the rector of the seminary proceeded the homily. It was pointed out that the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples (C.E.P.) accepted the candidate that the Bishops had unanimously proposed. Fr Ncedo Siwundla read the letter from C.E.P. electing, appointing and commissioning Fr Paul Manci in Latin and then in English, following which Fr Paul made a profession of faith and swore an oath of fidelity. The final part of the rite of installation was Bishop Dabula Mpako’s prayer for and blessing of Fr Manci which received a resounding, “Amen!”
The candidates were admitted after swearing that they would be prepared to assume ministry within the Church and faithfully serve Christ in His Church, in due time, through Holy Orders. The candidates received their certificates after the rite of communion.
Before the final blessing those gathered enjoyed a number of well constructed speeches. The first speech was made by Jason Lottering, a representative of the candidates, who thanked everybody involved in their formation. Following him, the president of the Student Council, Fannie Msiza, thanked the Bishops for their support of the seminary and thanked particularly his Excellency Bishop Pius Dlungwane for allowing Fr Manci to come to the seminary. Fr Thanduxolo Mbele, the Academic Dean, next addressed all gathered on behalf of the formation staff, pointing out the necessity of having a rector for the good of the seminary and formation of the future Catholic clergy of the country. He pledged the support of the staff to Fr Manci. His Excellence Bishop Pius Dlungwane then presented the newly installed rector, the Very Reverend Paul Manci and gave a stirring address in which he praised the academic and administrative qualities of Fr Manci. His Excellence furthermore described Fr Manci as a ‘Man of the Truth,’ who had a passion for people, and encouraged the staff to support the newly installed rector. He thanked the formators and assured them that they enjoyed both the full support and prayers of the Bishops. To the students he advised hard work and aiming high. Finally, before handing over to Fr Paul Manci, his Excellence Bishop Pius Dlungwane encouraged everybody to cheer up.
Reverend Fr Paul Manci closed the speeches by firstly acknowledging that he was privileged to be at the seminary and thereafter likening the call to be the rector to that of the prophets. He humbly admitted feeling overwhelmed by the call and feeling unworthy, but acknowledging that it is God who directs and guides. After all, the Rector said, we must face our trials like Christ, because our hour of glory follows our time of trial. He thanked the Bishops and the formation staff for their support, encouraging the Bishops to care for their students and to have confidence in himself and the formation staff. After the Rector’s heartfelt speech the Holy Mass was brought to its close.