Transfer of the Salesian Theological Institute
Rome, 22 March 2004
To the Rev.
My Dear Fr Provincial,
I offer you my heartfelt greetings and my very best wishes for a Holy Easter for yourself and for the confreres in the Province. With this letter I want to give you the latest news about the Cremisan formation community and study centre in the Holy Land.
On 23 February Cardinal Sodano and the Rector Major signed an agreement by which the Holy See entrusts to our Congregation on a free loan the buildings of the Ratisbonne Institute in Jerusalem. In these days a message has been sent to the Provincial of the Middle East Province so that by September 2004 the Cremisan formation community and study centre can be transferred to the premises of that Institute. It is a great gift for us to have a formation and study centre in Jerusalem.
In additon, starting in September 2005 the language of the Salesian Theological Institute of St Paul in Jerusalem will begin to be English, but naturally without neglecting Italian which is necessary for its links with our salesian history. The Congregation needs an English language international formation community, for linguistic and missionary preparation. Being aware of this time scale the Provinces can make their formation plans in good time.
The Salesian Theological Institute of St Paul is developing its international character. The possibility of sending students is offered to all the Provinces in the eight Regions of the Congregation; the first of the international characteristics in fact is the presence of students coming from throughout the world. In addition changes to the team of formation guides and teachers is in progress. The Institute will have a specific Statute as an international community and study centre in which the Rector Major and the General Council, the MOR, and the Faculty of Theology will have their responsibilities. A Curatorium of the Institute already exists, and work is in progress on a Convention with the UPS, in such a way that the study centre will continue its affiliation and collaboration with our University.
In the current pluricultural and globalised context, the Rector Major and the General Council consider as important an international and intercultural experience within the formation process about to start with specific formation. However, this presupposes a strong process of inculturation in the first phases of formation up to practical training. For theological studies we thus have two international formation communities: the Gerini community in Rome and the Jerusalem Community. They both stand out for their specifically salesian, ecclesial and universal nature and for their biblical, ecumenical and inter-religious character. It is to be hoped that every Region will be able to send two students each year to each of these communities.
For enrolments and for further information, one should refer to the Rectors of the formation communities in Rome and in Cremisan.. In the case of financial difficulties application can be made for study bursaries from international organisations or from the Rector Majors solidarity fund. Thank you for all that you are doing already and for what you can do to support the commitment of the Congregation in this area. At present our International communities are providing sound and interesting experiences.
Thank you again, as I send you my appreciation and heartfelt best wishes,
In Don Bosco,
Fr Francesco Cereda