On Saturday October 20, 2018, the 115th academic year of the Pontifical Theological Faculty of St. Bonaventure (Seraphicum) was inaugurated.
The day began with the celebration of Mass in the St. Bonaventure Chapel. The presider was the Most Reverend Augusto Paolo LOJUDICE, Auxiliary Bishop of Rome for the southern sector.
In his homily, the bishop said that the Gospel of the day highlights qualities that Saint Francis exemplified for us, in terms of radicality and courageous witness. It is an invitation to seek and learn more about the truth. However, he went on to stress that, within the academic context, “we ask the Lord for the discipline to study, to search, to learn more and to teach, while remembering to do all this under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In this way, our witness of life, both as teachers and as students, will be a true and credible witness of our vocation.”
The Dean, Friar Đinh Anh Nhuệ NGUYỄN, opened the academic year with an overview of its academic activities and he invited everyone to respond to their vocation.
“We ask that God grant us the missionary zeal of St. Paul the Apostle, who was martyred on this hill,” said the dean, “and that of St. Maximilian Maria KOLBE who studied at the Seraphicum when it was then headquartered on Via San Teodoro. May God grant us this Christian, Franciscan and apostolic zeal for the new academic year, in this new season of evangelization. And in everything we do, in every mission, may we have the conviction of Saint Paul: ‘I have the strength for everything through Him who empowers me.’”
Taking “the missions” as the central theme of his inaugural lecture, Father Fabrizio MERONI (PIME) the Secretary General of the Pontifical Missionary Union and Director of the Fides Agency, presented an in-depth reflection entitled, “Is Anyone Still Interested in Missio ad Gentes? A Theological-Pastoral Reflection”.
Noting, however, that Pope Francis declared an “Extraordinary Missionary Month” to be celebrated in October of 2019, Father MERONI made a detailed report on the subject, touching on many of its aspects.
“The missio ad gentes is the original form,” he said. “It is the paradigm and the model that configures the whole evangelizing mission of the Church, because it expresses the proclamation of the Gospel and the sacramental transformation of the world, turning all the peoples of the missionary disciples into people who belong to the Lord Jesus. The specificity of the missio ad gentes within the evangelizing mission of the Church is found in its peculiar relationship with the ‘yet-to-occur’ personal encounter with Jesus Christ and his Gospel; with the absence of a Christian faith capable of generating cultures; and with men and women whose religions and peoples still yearn for salvation from sin and death in the here and now of human history. Knowing Christ or not knowing him; being baptized—or not; embracing the Christian faith and belonging to the Church, living the Gospel of reconciliation and experiencing God’s forgiveness—or not, make the real difference.
The inauguration of the academic year started off with the ritual formula read by Dean NGUYỄN. Those in attendance included representatives from other academic institutions in Rome, professors and students. The Grand Chancellor, Minister General Friar Marco TASCA, was absent due to his involvement in the work of the Synod on Youth at the Vatican. In his place was the Secretary General, Friar Vincenzo MARCOLI, along with the Assistant General for the African Federation of Conventual Franciscans (AFCOF), Friar Tadeusz ŚWIĄTKOWSKI; the Procurator General, Friar Maurizio DI PAOLO; and the General Econom, Friar Nicola ROSA.
Elisabetta LO IACONO – Seraphicum Press Office