In Ratisbonne chapel

 Jerusalem is home to five of our province’s confreres. They are part of the Ratisbonne community at the Studium Theologicum Salesianum (STS), the Jerusalem campus of the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome. Fr. Eric Wykoff is a doctoral candidate, lecturer, and member of the formation team. Our four students of theology are Bro. John Langan, in his second year, and three first-year men: Bro. Craig Spence, Bro. Lenny Carlino, and Bro. Steve DeMaio.

On February 15-16, the STS held its 14th annual curatorium meeting. These meetings evaluate and plan for international centers of study or formation. I was pleased to represent Fr. Tim Zak at this meeting. It was a precious occasion to enjoy the company of and encourage our confreres, get acquainted with a formation house of 36 students from 22 Salesian provinces, and appreciate the good work that the STS is.

Our men know that they have a singular privilege of studying theology in the Holy Land, which is often referred to as the “fifth Gospel.” Situated in West Jerusalem, the Ratisbonne is just a 20-minute walk from Calvary and the Holy Sepulcher. In addition to lectures and classroom instruction, the STS curriculum includes topographical visits to many archeological sites linked to salvation history. Since the Holy City is at the crossroads of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, their learning extends beyond the classroom; every walk about town brings insights into the complexities of ecumenism, interreligious dialog, and interculturality.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for Salesian formation in Jerusalem in the active apostolate. Obviously, Catholics in Jerusalem are a tiny minority, most of whom do not speak English. But our men find ways to serve in Don Bosco’s spirit. Bro. Craig is chaplain to a “congregation” of Filipina women who gather for Sunday Mass at the Cremisan community chapel. Bro. John works with Filipino immigrants near Tel Aviv, nearly an hour away. Bro. Steve provides animation at the Salesian oratory in Bethlehem with Arabic-speaking Palestinian children. Bro. Lenny teaches a music/leadership class to eight post-confirmation students at the Savio Oratory on the Ratisbonne campus. Fr. Eric is a consummate educator, loved by his students—who actually enjoy studying Biblical Greek because of Fr. Eric’s pedagogical genius.

The STS has as a great new website,, recently updated in large part by our young American confreres, present and past (shout-out to Fr. Paul Chu). We can be proud of the various leadership roles our men fill within their Ratisbonne community.

March 8, 2018 - 2:55pm
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