THE INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MACAU LAUNCHED FIVE NEW BOOKS – St. Joseph’s Seminary is absolutely unavoidable in the history of education in Macau

– Marco Carvalho

The Macao International Institute (IIM) launched last Tuesday – and in a single shot – five new books, two of which in cooperation with St. Joseph’s Seminary Alumni Association. A former student of the institution, José Maria Bártolo presented his second book of poetry, a bittersweet work of social criticism written in verse.

They were compared by some to medieval mocking and cursing songs, but the author favors another type of labeling. In José Maria Bártolo’s opinion – the writer is a native of northern Portugal who studied at the Saint Joseph’s Seminary and made Macau his home in 1955 – the fifty poems that make up the book “Arengas à Lua” (the Portuguese expression for “Harangues to the Moon”) constitute a personal and critical reading, often with a bittersweet tone, of some of the moments and debates that have taken hold of the social and political life of the Special Administrative Region over a period of almost three years, from mid-2014 to mid-2017.

The book – Bártolo’s second one, after “A Última Pérola – Macau” (The Last Pearl – Macau) – has in its genesis articles which were published by the three Portuguese-language daily newspapers of Macau (Jornal Tribuna de Macau, Hoje Macau and Ponto Final). With a sharp, sometimes scathing quill, the author addresses such distinctive aspects as the discussion about domestic violence, the inscrutable work made by a vast array of advisory councils or the slow pace of justice in the local courts: “My book is mainly based on news and episodes that were reported in the newspapers. They are my inspiration, they are the foundation of this book, but inspiration also depends on our own wish to continue and I thought I should give it an end”, the author explained. “I came to a point where I was convinced I had nothing to say anymore, and so much so that the last ‘harangue’, the one that completed the lot of fifty, it took me a long time to think about it. I eventually settled on a very specific account of my memories: Macau by the time I arrived. I came to Macau in 1955”, José Maria Bártolo says.

Officially launched last March, the book “The St. Joseph Seminary on the Formation of Macao People”(still without an English language translation), written by João Guedes, was again in focus on Tuesday. The journalist and researcher accepted the challenge launched by Saint Joseph’s  Seminary Alumni Association and wrote what is the most complete story yet published about the Seminary. In the author’s opinion, the volume is a well-deserved tribute to an institution with an unavoidable role in shaping the education of the local elites: “Many of the post-Saint Paul’s College synologues were trained there. Great synologists were formed there”,  the researcher explains. “The seminary has had, however, another very important role, which was the education of the local youth over several generations, practically until our days. The Seminary formally closed in 1966 after the 1-2-3 riots, but until it closed it bad been a little bit of everything. It was a Business School, it was an University. It is absolutely unavoidable in the history of education in Macau”, João Guedes concludes.

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