On the 30th of April 2014, the community of St John Vianney Seminary held a Farewell for the final year students for the Priesthood who will leave the seminary after the completion of their final comprehensive Bth exams on 8 May.

Proceedings commenced at 17h30 with the celebration of Mass on the Liturgical Feast of Our Lady Mother of Africa, led by Father Molewe Machingoane, the Rector of the Seminary. At the beginning of the Mass, the Rector reminded the final year students that the Seminary is a place which prepares them for their future ministry. This was an occasion to give thanks, but at the same time the Seminary will miss the final year students who had been part of the life of the seminary for the past 8 years.

The Homily was delivered by the Vice Rector, Father Masilo Selemela. As the day marked the feast of Our Lady Mother of Africa, Father Selemela emphasized that those preparing for Holy Orders should imitate Mary mother of Christ, and can learn from her example. Furthermore, he urged them to learn from Mary in order to become true Disciples of Christ, so that they can bring hope to those whom they are going to serve, and to the Church as a whole. He reminded them to stay focused, and to become men of prayer, because in their preaching people will experience love and hope.

After the mass, the farewell moved on to the diningroom for the speeches, and presentation of the gifts to the final year students, who in their turn also presented some gifts to the Seminary as an expression of their gratitude. In his speech, the president of the Student Council, Mthokozisi Ndlovu, congratulated the departing students for their patience and humble perseverance. He explained that the completion of their Seminary formation is an encouragement, if not an inspiration, to those who are still “in the race” to hold on, because of their sure hope they too will make it.

The representative of final year group, Manqoba Ngcobo, thanked everyone for their assistance and support during their journey of discernment at the seminary. He explained that formation to priesthood is a journey of faith and discernment of the will of God. He highlighted that during their stay in the Seminary they were helped to live a life of prayer, to create a close relationship with God, with others, and with themselves.

In conclusion, the Rector reminded them that they should remember that they are going to be shepherds of the flock that will be entrusted to them, and as Pope Francis puts it, the shepherd who is faithful and committed should “smell like his sheep”! Furthermore, the Rector reminded them that as they will become priests they should be Christ-like, and be faithful to everything entrusted to them.

After the formalities had been completed, a festive meal was enjoyed by all.

By Abel Maluleka