Wholeness and Holiness through Education: Called to be Complete. (Opening Mass 2021)

By Fr. Alfigio Tunha, OFM

Salutation: Religious superiors present, Lecturers, formators, members of the administration and ancillary staff, SRC leadership, Friends of St. Bonaventure, Student Brothers all distinguished Guests, comrades, and Friends…… Good Morning.

Our existence here at St Bonaventure University is defined by our systematic engagement in human growth through exploring two complementing human facets namely our essence and the quality of our existence. In simple terms we are here to explore the in-depth of our being and make a choice of the quality of existence we want. Our time here is characterized by a three-year academic persuasion in philosophy where we seek to acquire the principles of the ultimate causes of reality. Secondly, apart from the methodological academic enterprise, we will spend long hours of self-introspection in the form of meditation and spiritual exercises. These are moments when we seek transcendental meaning in our lives. We pursue the metaphysical aspect of the whole human composite. In other words, we strive to know what are we. and who are we?   

Classically, Man is defined as a rational animal which denotes that there is a resemblance of man to all other creatures that are classified as animals. However, man is qualified as RATIONAL. It is this qualification and quality of man that our enterprise seeks to nurture and amplify. The composite nature of man is our business here. We seek to ensure through education and religious devotion that all the faculties that qualify a man to be who he is are fully explored in view of attaining completeness. 

The Rational qualification of a man prompts us to investigate its outstanding tenets as far as man’s substance is concerned.  Beginning his Metaphysics, Aristotle declares that, “All men by nature desire to know…” This means that we all have an urge towards knowledge. It is that perennial urge towards knowledge that we seek to entertain here through the study of philosophy.  Why do humans essentially have the desire to acquire wisdom, if it can be asked? Knowledge is desired for its purpose; that is creating the ability for one to see ahead, the ability to judge and predict behaviors of self and of the other. As one would notice, knowledge is acquired through different avenues, and the knowledge we acquire demands supporting evidence that is based on various ways of knowing. The evidence required to support our knowledge varies in degree and in some instances, evidence is not even required because of the highly logic-based nature of some knowledge fields. Or when we appeal to our belief in the Supreme being where a certain set of beliefs concerning the purpose of life in this universe are outlined suggesting supernatural divine- God the creator and the reason for our existence. This means that the desire to have knowledge entails the ultimate source of that knowledge which cannot be arrived at by man’s desire to know but by the route of faith- which is the idea of believing without the need for evidence. 

In your journey here, God will be one of the beings to be known through man’s desire to know. What we know about God through rational enterprise is the phenomenon of God (as God appears to us as a mental object). Since what appears is not the essence, it is therefore compelling that the noumenon of God is arrived at it through the echelons of faith. Kant will help you to appreciate this when you embark on his transcendental idealism. 

My dear brothers, welcome to St. Bonaventure University a place where transformation takes place. Like the Magi from the East in the scriptures, when they found the child, their life was never the same again so they started to dream dreams of new realities which saw them taking a very different route. They never dared to return via their familiar route because familiarity brings contempt. The same applies to you my brothers, the star has taken you this far and you are now daring new avenues of life. St Bonaventure initiates you to dual balances between rationality and spirituality. St. Bonaventure grants you the opportunity to grow integrally. The ambiance of our environment and the availability of our service have so far been tried, tested, and trusted. Your stay here will give you to be exposed to a vast field of experience. It is up to the individual to define the kind of trajectory one wants to take. The University remains the formal cause and you remain the material cause. Both the formal cause and the material cause respect the dictates of the efficient cause to have an acceptable final cause. In this chain of causes, God is the efficient cause therefore his place ought to be respected. 

Your being here at this time is a unique presence. Do not use this time for anything else but growing rationally and spiritually. Not in your lifetime will you ever have this opportunity again. Remember fortune knocks on a man’s door once in life. As you enjoy your stay and study here do not forget to be a law-abiding rational substance. Respect the laws of the land, be steadfast in keeping the laws of the commands, and be meticulous in keeping the laws of the University and the laws of formation. The system expects you to be people of character, who are capable of co-existing among themselves and among the larger community. 

Respect Mother Earth by knowing where to deposit litter and by not disturbing the ecosystem. When duty calls respond positively and be punctual in all activities. Let us also handle with care the property of the university, especially the lecture halls, the books, and all the technological aids that we use. We have human resources as well; we are obliged to show maximum respect to all our collaborators. As most of us are ambassadors of Christ, respect that office by being presentable, modest, and clean always. A variety of cultures and variety of backgrounds can bring tensions but here we say they spicy our engagement. We are therefore obliged to respect each other’s culture as long as those cultures respect the values of the gospel and the logical tenets. The truth of the gospel which is emphasized in our spirituality must be extended to our academic endeavors. It is embarrassing sometimes that in an institution of our nature cases of academic dishonesty are very high. Woe to you, who is involved in exam cheating. If you are found cheating, the institution has no other option but to discontinue you from the program. The institution is putting all measures in place to ensure transparency in all academic exercises. The institution continually tries to improve the environment through various developments and it is our duty to safeguard our developments and to keep them intact. 

Progressively, St. Bonaventure University in conjunction with the University of Salento, Italy seeks to establish an International African Center for Applied Phenomenology IACAP. This partnership is being spearheaded by Professor Gorgio Rizzo who is present today and is currently lecturing here. This development will see the University flexing its academic muscles in the essential areas of research with special reference to applied research. 

Conclusively, The University wishes you a smooth-flowing academic year. May we always be assisted to do that which makes us grow and be transformed into an expected end? Remember our academic and spiritual journey is guided by our core values: Academic diligence- Moral Integrity- Integral Fraternity- Environmental Responsibility and Availability.  We are on this journey inspired by our Motto: Intelligence in Truth and Integrity. 

Our Guiding theme for this year is: Philosophical Method as a vehicle to respond to the challenges of our time>> 

God Bless You! 

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