The SACBC National Seminary, St. John Vianney Seminary, in Pretoria celebrated a farewell Mass for their final year theology students who are leaving the seminary in the next few days. The Mass took place on Wednesday the 28th April 2021 at 16h00 at the seminary. This is an event that is usually attended by a good number of people from outside the seminary, but due to Covid 19 restrictions the festivities of the celebration were only restricted to the residents of the seminary.
These final year students will be heading to their respective dioceses in the next few days after completing their comprehensive exams in the next week. An Oath-Taking ceremony will also take place at the seminary before their departure. This is an oath they take to swear to be faithful to the Catholic teachings on only in living them but in preaching them too. The oath-taking includes doing the profession of faith.
In his address to the students the Rector of the Seminary, Fr. John Selemela, said the seminary gives gratitude to God for the seminarians’ perseverance towards priesthood and ultimately the mission of the Church. The rector warned them that they are becoming priests in a very challenging time of the Church, the time of covid-19. He reminded them that the purpose of formation was to form a priestly identity, not just functionaries who are going to do all things well but believing and identifying with all that they preach.
The rector also warned them that they are a generation of priests that will be preaching to a society that is prone to rejecting some of the gospel publicly. He said, “You will be preaching to the society that is at home with corruption, a society that is at home with abortion, because everyone is entitled to make a choice, a society of gay culture where we are taught marry whoever you want and live in a relationship with whoever you want, where family is no longer the norm, where cohabiting becomes the new norm. And this is the society where you will be preaching.” The rector did not hide the fact that there are people in the Church who believe these things he just mentioned, and this people can constantly call the Church and the Holy Father, and all of us who preach the gospel of values to be people who have lost the sense of the times.
He added that this kind of society need a priest who is convinced about the gospel where only the priest’s consciousness, knowledge and firm identity will ensure that he weather the storm. After saying other things that are important in the life of a priest the rector ended his speech by giving the parting seminarians rosaries. It was to remind them that a priest lives his spousal love through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is close to the heart of Christ.