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On Sunday of the 16th of March 2014, St John Vianney Seminary (SJV) hosted visitors from the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, and these were the Sacred Heart Sodality of the West Rand and Soweto Deanery. The visitors arrived early in the morning in packed buses and were warmly welcomed by the seminarians.
The Program began at 9h00 with the Eucharistic Celebration, presided over by Rev. Fr John-Bosco Asiimwe, who in his homily appealed to each of us to remember our own ‘Transfiguration moments’, in other words to remember those ‘wow’ moments of our own encounters with the living God. The celebration was enriching, with both the students and the Sacred Heart Sodality members displaying a true community gifted by the Holy Spirit, with full, active, and conscious participation.
The second part of the Program began immediately after the Mass, where all gathered in the St John Vianney Hall. In the hall the students joyously entertained the visitors with beautiful music from the amazing Choir of SJV, and the art group also displayed their creativity by acting out a drama of Unity in Diversity. Be that as it may, many other enriching activities followed, which included the welcoming Speech by the President of the SJV Student Council, Mthokozisi Ndlovu, from the Diocese of Eshowe (see below the text of this speech). This was followed by the Rector’s Address, who officially welcomed the visitors and introduced to them, his colleagues, the Priests on the Formation Staff who come from different parts of Southern Africa.
The climax of the day culminated with the Sacred Heart Sodality members presenting bountiful gifts to the Students, which included toiletries, food, and blankets. The President of the Sodality, addressed the Students and encouraged them to appreciate their vocation, and to remember that they, as the Sodality, are fully behind them.
Well! As they say, ‘all good things comes to an end’, and the last part of the program was marked with the Vote of Thanks by the Vice-Rector, Fr Masilo Selemela, who expressed a word of gratitude to the visitors, and also thanked them for their gifts. Indeed one can say it was a blessing and reviving to encounter the Sacred Heart Sodality members, who were warmly welcomed in St John Vianney Seminary.
By Boshom Mpetsheni
ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE STUDENT COUNCIL – Mthokozisi Ndlovu
Reverend Fr. Molewe Machingoane, President of St John Vianney Seminary, Reverend Fr. John Masilo Selemela, Vice President, Formation staff, fellow Brother Colleagues, our beloved visitors the Sacred Heart Sodality of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg. I greet you all.
It is an honour and a privilege for me to stand before you, to give and share briefly the day to day life of the Seminary. St John Vianney Seminary is a formation house belonging to the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), where young men come to pursue their priestly vocation. We have chosen this journey because of the invitation of our Lord Jesus Christ, calling us into a life of total abundance, prayer, and of service as ministers in the Catholic Church.
In the Seminary we are formed in the Model of Christ and in the Model of the Church to become worthy leaders and ministers of the Church, shepherds of the flock of Christ. This formation is carried out by Diocesan Priests who have left the parishes of their Dioceses in order that they may serve Jesus Christ and his Church through accompanying us and forming us to become worthy ministers in the Church. The Priests you see here, stand in the place of our Bishops, they are not only our formators, but also our fathers, and brothers.
The formation we get is accomplished under four pillars:
Firstly, Spiritual formation, in which we develop spiritually through the life of prayer. Spiritual formation helps us to grow in love for Christ, to be conscious of God who dwells in our lives, so as to build that indissoluble friendship and communion with Him, for the life of a Priest is centred on Christ, the One we imitate and the One who people must see in our lives.
Secondly, Academic formation, which is aimed at the intellectual formation. It includes 3 years of Philosophy, where we are taught how to reason logically, how nature can help us to know something about God, and how to appreciate the use of reason in assisting us to arrive at the knowledge of God, for grace builds on nature and perfects it. We then do 4 years of Theology, where we are introduced to the teaching and the history of the Church. Theology has God as the subject of study, His message for humanity, as it is found in Sacred Scripture, and in lived Sacred Tradition. In Theology we are also taught how to impart this teaching of the Church to the faithful people of God, through preaching, and the celebration of the sacraments.
Thirdly, pastoral formation, which is the practice of what we have learnt in class, to be able to take care of the different pastoral needs of those whom we are going to be serving, like visiting the sick in hospitals and hospices, praying with them and ministering communion to them. Currently 13 students, who have completed the second year of their Theological Formation are in their Dioceses doing their 6 month Pastoral Internship. They will return resume their formation in the Seminary in July.
Fourth and lastly, Human Formation, which is aimed at our growth as human beings. For if we are not fully grown and matured as human beings the other 3 pillars become void and meaningless, as St Eugene De Mazenod would say,
“our call, is to teach people to live and behave like human beings, after that we can help them to become Christian, finally, to pray for them to become Saints”.
All these four pillars can be summarized in this quotation. In total we spend in St John Vianney seminary 7 and half years being formed so that we may be found worthy to go out and minister to our respective Dioceses and the Church at large.
What is the normal programme of our day? Our day always begins with prayer normally at 6:30 a.m., followed by Mass, after which we go for breakfast followed by classes from Monday till Friday, from 8h30 till 13h00. In the afternoon we engage in different activities, like playing soccer, cricket, basketball etc. We also engage in singing, having the Seminary choir, the art group that includes the marimba group, gumboots dance etc. In all these activities we manifest our different gifts and God given talents, we are giving back to God what he has blessed us with.
Since we are community coming from all corners of South Africa and abroad, we also celebrate our different cultures, we gather together to acknowledge the presence of God and his many faces manifested in different cultural groups represented in this community, and to be aware of how God has called us from different backgrounds and has united us through one vocation, and in one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
All being said allow me, on behalf of the Student Body to extend words of gratitude to you our guests who have travelled from afar to join yourselves with us today. It is really an honour for us, and we are thankful of your visitation, which manifests your support, and concern for the future leaders of the Church. Your visitation assures us that we are not alone, but that we have mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, in Johannesburg. Again, your visitation proves to us that you accompany us on our journey, and that you are praying for us to become worthy ministers of the Church. Archbishop Fulton Sheen, has this to say;
“If there can be no Good Friday in our lives, there can be no Easter Sunday.”
With these words, I will you all a fruitful Lenten Season. I thank you.