MISSIONARY OBLATES OF MARY IMMACULATE,
ST. JOSEPH'S SCHOLASTICATE - CEDARA


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In 1943, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate had four newly professed scholastics ready for studies, but the Second World War made it impossible for them to travel to Europe. St. Joseph Hermitage the former Marist Brother's juniorate in Presbytery, PMB, was standing empty, so Bishop Henry Delalle,OMI, suggested that the young Oblates be trained there. With hard work, good humour and the use of the parish library at St. Mary's, Loop Street, St. Joseph's Scholasticate was born.

The number of candidates increased after the war, causing the new Scholasticate to move, first to cleland and then, at the start of 1953, to Cedara. St. Joseph's Cedara began as a two storey structure, built on farm land donated to the Oblates by Mrs. John Franklin. One of the first students described the buildings as a huge block of concrete, but this custom-made house fostered growth in its students, for both South Africa and Australia. Scholastics laid out the gardens, planted trees and worked on the farm; a welcomed relief from classes since, although lectures were given in English, text books were in Latin. Rugby and cricket matches were played against the Agricultural College but then, as now, soccer was the sport played most often.

The changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council were welcomed at St. Joseph's with great excitement. Theological education kept pace with new insights and fresh approaches. All during this time, there was a racially mixed community despite complaints from neighbors, but whites remained in the majority and scholastics were segregated when going into town, to the doctor or the cinema. those who studied here in the late 1960's and the early 1970's have many happy memories even in the midst of political tension and theological questioning.

In 1971, two Dominican students arrived, then some seminarians from Cape Town and later in 1976 the clerical students from Marianhill Missionaries were transferred to Cedara. Capuchins, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Franciscans, Oblates of Francis de Sales and others also began arriving, all living as guests in the OMI Scholasticate. There were increasing opportunities for pastoral work outside, for correspondence courses and liturgical experimentation. After 1976, and throughout the 1980's, the socio-economic injustices of Apartheid were challenged. Staff and students were detained on three different occasions. The one in June 1986 is most significant-22 students were held for 14 days and one staff member and one student were deported. In this period there was a greater stress placed on pastoral planning based on a renewed understanding of Missiology and Contextual Theology. The common formation enjoyed by several congregations at this crucial time went a long way towards moulding a common vision for the Church in Southern Africa.

Numbers continued growing. A new Chapel had been dedicated in 1986 and by the late 1980's several religious congregations were buying properties of their own around Cedara. They were now coming to Cedara each day for lectures and extra-murals. OMI students though always the single biggest group, now found themselves in the majority once more in their own home. Additional accommodation was added to the north side in the early 1990's. By now a new model was needed for Cedara. St. Joseph's Theological Institute was founded. Since then the Scholasticate has remained in the name of OMI House of formation, an ever more international community, whose initial vision, generous hospitality and remarkable adaptability continues to shape the Church in South Africa and beyond.

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