The University of Saint Joseph (USJ), in Macau, previously known as Macau Inter-University Institute, was founded in 1996. It was jointly organized by the Catholic University of Portugal and the Diocese of Macau. It is also connected by structural, academic, and social bonds to the Special Administrative Region of Macau, to Portugal, and to mainland China.
The University has three campuses: One is located in NAPE, where Masteral courses are offered and laboratories are located; another is in the Seminary of St. Joseph, where our Dominican brothers are taking their institutional studies at the Faculty of Religious Studies; and the third one is the Ilha Verde campus, which is the main, newly blessed campus of the USJ.
The main campus in Ilha Verde had not yet been blessed until now in spite that it started operating on 11th September 2017. This is why such a blessing took place now, on the 4th of March 2019. The occasion was graced with the presence of His Eminency Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who had been invited by the University to preside the ceremony, which consisted of a votive Mass in honor of Saint Joseph and the blessing proper. On this day the morning classes and activities were suspended by the Rector of the University in order to facilitate the participation of the students, professors, staff and friends in the ceremony.
Concelebrating with Cardinal Filonni there were two bishops, namely, D. Stephen Lee, the bishop of the Diocese of Macau, and D. Jose Lai, his predecessor. Joining them was Archbishop-elect Msgr Ante Josic, the Delegate of the Holy See in Hong Kong for the past ten years, who has recently been named Nuncio in Ivory Coast. Likewise, Fr. Peter Stilwell, the Rector of the University, and a good number of priests-professors and priests from different Congregations settled in Macau diocese were also around the altar. At the very start of the Mass, the bishop of Macau, D. Stephen Lee, had some welcome remarks and words of gratitude towards those attending the blessing ceremony.
In his homily, Cardinal Filoni highlighted the importance of the University of Saint Joseph in Macau. This institution, according to him, not only offers, like any other university, a wide range of programs across different fields of knowledge; but, as a Catholic University, is also called to be a leading center for the study of Catholic Theology and related disciplines in East Asia, attuned with Macau’s unique historical position in the Church in this part of the world. In addition, Cardinal Filoni spoke beautifully of St Joseph as Jesus’ teacher by word and by example. This same pattern he applied to the professors and the students of this University named after him.
Our Dominican brothers from St Dominic’s priory contributed with their voices to make this celebration more solemn and prayerful, as they sung during the Mass.
Before the end of the Mass, Cardinal Filoni, the bishop of Macau D. Stephen Lee and the Rector of the University, Fr Peter Stilwell, proceeded with the blessing of the USJ Ilha Verde campus. It took place through the prayer and the sprinkling of holy water of a commemorative stone, a landmark of the University placed under the special protection of Saint Joseph and of Our Lady of Fatima. All those attending the ceremony were reminded that the blessing was not mainly for the stone for the material structures, but rather for those who would study, teach and work at the University. As a fitting end, there were some exchange of gifts: the Cardinal gave the University a chasuble for its chapel and a silver medal commemorative of His Holiness Pope Francis.
Finally, after the ceremony, there was a meeting of the Rector, Deans, Faculty members and representatives of the student’s Association of the University with the Cardinal at Saint John Bosco auditorium