On 6 November 2013, at a solemn and dignified celebrated of Mass with Archbishop Stephen Brislin, the President of the SACBC presiding, and concelebrated by some 10 Bishops, including Cardinal Wilfred Napier and the Apostolic Nuncio to Southern Africa, Archbishop Mario Roberto Cassari, and a large number of Priests, the Papal Honour of PRO ECCLESIAE ET PONTIFICE was bestowed upon 4 Priests who had distinguished themselves in their committed dedication to St John Vianney Seminary. In his opening welcoming remarks the Chairman of the Department for Seminaries, Bishop Dabula Mpako outlined their being honoured in recognition for their loyal and faithful service to formation to the priesthood, and to the Church in Southern Africa as a whole, and introduced the recipients as follows:

Msgr. Marc de Mûelenaere who has taught Canon Law for close to 30 years;   

Rev. Fr. Bonaventure Hinwood OFMwho was a formator, a lecturer in Systematic Theology, and Academic Dean for more than 33 years;

Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Ennis OFMwho was a formator and lecturer in Moral Theology for more than 30 years;

Rev. Fr. Johan Maneschg MCCJ a lecturer in Sacred Scripture for close to 30 years.

It is true that many hundreds of priests, while in formation at St John Vianney Seminary, have passed through their hands, and learnt from their example, expertise and humanity, a dimension or facet of priesthood that is contained in the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

In his homily, Bishop Graham Rose, who had been Rector at this Seminary for a period of their collective service, in reflecting on the liturgical celebration of the day, “All Saints of Africa”, lauded the role of these dedicated priests whose influence and impact will continue to unfold in the yet to be told stories of future saints of Africa.

Before presenting the Papal awards, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Mario Cassari delivered a short speech praising these “magnificent 4” servants of the Church who could, in humility say, as St Paul reflected, “I have only done my duty”.

At this Mass we also remembered another faithful servant of the Seminary, Rev. Fr. Matthew McDonald OFM, who passed away peacefully 2 months ago in Ireland, and who had devoted around 40 years of his life in this service. In remembrance of him Archbishop Brislin blessed a commemorative plaque placed on the Memorial Board of the Chapel.

In his closing vote of thanks, the Rector, Fr. Molewe Machingoane congratulated the recipients of this papal honour and hailed their invaluable and continued active presence, influence, and support in the life and work of the Seminary.

After this joyful and dignified celebration, a wonderful festive meal was shared by all present. A most memorable day indeed it was in the life and history of St John Vianney Seminary!

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