A buddhist nun shares in Lay Centre life

My name is Sayalay Sandardikar and I am a Buddhist nun from the Burmese Theravada Tradition. I spend much of my time in Myanmar meditating and studying the Buddhist texts, but I also enjoy engaging in interreligious dialogue with the local Catholic community.

During my time in Rome this past year, I studied the synoptic Gospels, early Christian masters of prayer, Christian worship and contemporary Islam.

I was referred to The Lay Centre by the Nostra Aetate Foundation and I have been so grateful for the opportunities provided by The Lay Centre.

In particular, I was able to meet with such a diverse range of scholars and practitioners, forging friendships and fostering mutual respect. Through my conversations with people I met at The Lay Centre, I learned lessons I could never have learned through books alone.

Indeed, the words that describe The Lay Centre — faith, learning, dialogue, community — have truly resonated with me, especially the aspect of community. Participating in The Lay Centre community made me reflect on the community of my own tradition and how I can carry the wisdom gained here into the future for the benefit of others.

Of course, I still have much to learn within my own tradition and I would like to spend more time deepening my own meditation practice. For me, meditation is a very suitable path for the development of my mind, but once I feel I have built a firm foundation in my meditation, perhaps I will be able to engage in interreligious work with more dedication.

Obviously, in this day and age, interreligious dialogue has great importance but, as things stand, I see a lack of engagement in these issue from our political leaders globally. I don’t know how to encourage our global leaders to embrace the interreligious efforts being made by our spiritual leaders, but I would like to contribute as much as I can for the peaceful coexistence of the different religious traditions throughout the world.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

World Refugee Day: Art and the Human Experience

ROME — On World Refugee Day, June 20, The Lay Centre joins in solidarity with the international community and presents short video highlights from a special public series it held this past spring, called “Welcoming the Stranger.” The series addressed the pressing international concern for refugees from the perspective of faith.

In this eight-minute video, Lay Centre scholar Hansol Goo speaks about art and its portrayal of the refugee experience, in particular through pieces that depict the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt. She analyzes the artwork and what they teach us about the refugee experience. Goo also shares her own immigration experience from Korea to Canada.

Click below to watch the video:

Millions of people forcibly leave their homes each year due to war, persecution or natural disaster. Each year the international community recognizes their struggles and courage on World Refugee Day, June 20.

World Refugee Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the global refugee situation. The Lay Centre committed to doing its part in raising awareness on the issue with its six-week faith-based series, “Welcoming the Stranger.”

Educational materials on World Refugee Day were produced by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and are available here.

For more information on World Refugee Day, click here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

World Refugee Day: Welcoming the Stranger from a Biblical Perspective

ROME — On World Refugee Day, June 20, The Lay Centre joins in solidarity with the international community and presents short video highlights from a special public series it held this past spring, called “Welcoming the Stranger.” The series addressed the pressing international concern for refugees from the perspective of faith.

In this eight-minute video, Benedictine Father Edmund Power, former Abbot of St. Paul Outside the Walls, explains how Christian hospitality and welcoming the stranger are rooted in the Bible. Lay Centre Director Donna Orsuto introduces the series with the principles of Scripture-based Christian hospitality.

Click below to watch the video:

Millions of people forcibly leave their homes each year due to war, persecution or natural disaster. Each year the international community recognizes their struggles and courage on World Refugee Day, June 20.

World Refugee Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the global refugee situation. The Lay Centre committed to doing its part in raising awareness on the issue with its six-week faith-based series, “Welcoming the Stranger.”

Educational materials on World Refugee Day were produced by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and are available here.

For more information on World Refugee Day, click here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

World Refugee Day: Sacred Art and the Refugee

ROME — On World Refugee Day, June 20, The Lay Centre joins in solidarity with the international community and presents short video highlights from a special public series it held this past spring, called “Welcoming the Stranger.” The series addressed the pressing international concern for refugees from the perspective of faith.

In this eight-minute video, Professor Barbara Aniello, an art history professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University offers an analysis of significant depictions in sacred art of the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt. Her interpretations lead viewers to understand the great mercy and compassion Jesus has for refugees. A trained cellist, Professor Aniello also offers speaks of the art from a musician’s perspective.

Click below to watch the video:

Millions of people forcibly leave their homes each year due to war, persecution or natural disaster. Each year the international community recognizes their struggles and courage on World Refugee Day, June 20.

World Refugee Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the global refugee situation. The Lay Centre committed to doing its part in raising awareness on the issue with its six-week faith-based series, “Welcoming the Stranger.”

Educational materials on World Refugee Day were produced by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and are available here.

For more information on World Refugee Day, click here.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Father Ragheed Ganni, martyr and friend remembered

By Donna Orsuto

A video was produced to mark the 10th anniversary of the martyrdom of Father Ragheed Ganni, who was killed by Islamic terrorists after he celebrated Mass for Pentecost.

ROME — This Pentecost, I remembered in a special way Father Ragheed Ganni, who was brutally killed in Mosul, Iraq, after celebrating the Eucharist on Sunday, June 3, 2007.

Marking the 10th anniversary of his martyrdom, I just received a copy of a book in Italian, Un Sacerdote Cattolico nello Stato Islamico (A Catholic Priest in the Islamic State), by Rebwar Audish Basa, that tells the story of his life and death.

A video was also produced to mark the anniversary.

After celebrating the Pentecost Sunday Eucharist for the community there, Father Ragheed and three subdeacons were shot as they were driving away from the parish church.  Just before Father Ragheed was shot, one of the gunmen asked him why he did not listen to them and close the church. Father Ragheed replied, “How can I close the house of God?”

Father Ragheed Ganni pauses for a moment of silent prayer while presiding at a celebration of the Eucharist in the chapel of The Lay Centre in the spring of 2003.

While he was a student in Rome, Father Ragheed, an Iraqi Christian of the Chaldean Catholic Church, often came to The Lay Centre to celebrate the Thursday morning Mass for the Vincent Pallotti Institute.

He was studying here when the war started in Iraq in 2003.  On the morning that the first bombs hit Baghdad, he was scheduled to celebrate Mass at The Lay Centre.  The chapel was packed.  Many of the participants were from the United States, some were diplomats.  What could one say on such an occasion?  I was without words.  All we could do was to pray for peace.  And so the sacrifice of the Mass was offered.  Father Ragheed came back the next week and the week after until he left Rome.

A book was published by Aid to the Church in Need to mark the 10th anniversary of the martyrdom of Father Ragheed Ganni. Pictured above is the cover of the Italian translation.

Before departing for Iraq, as we stood together in the garden, he acknowledged that it was dangerous to return to his country, but what could he do? He was a priest. The Chaldean people needed him. He went freely.

When speaking at the National Eucharistic Congress in Italy in 2005, he said, “Without the Sunday Eucharist we cannot live. In normal times, everything is taken for granted and we forget the greatest gift that is made to us. Ironically, it is thanks to terrorist violence that we have truly learned that it is the Eucharist,  Christ who died and has risen, that gives us life. And this allows us to resist and hope.”

Father Ragheed Ganni and Donna Orsuto, director of The Lay Centre, are pictured  in a book published recently to mark the 10th anniversary of his death. Father Ragheed was a friend of The Lay Centre and often celebrated Mass there for the participants of the Vincent Pallotti Institute.

 

 

He once wrote,  “There are days when I feel frail and full of fear. But when, holding the Eucharist, I say, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,’ I feel His strength in me. When I hold the Host in my hands, it is really He who is holding me and all of us, challenging the terrorists and keeping us all united in His boundless love.”

A martyr celebrated Mass in The Lay Centre chapel.  If the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, one can only hope and pray that the sacrifice of his life, and that of so many others, will bring renewed life to a new Iraq.

Read more here.

Father Ragheed of the Eucharist, pray for us.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

ACCU concludes successful Rome Seminar on higher education

ROME — The 13th Rome Seminar for the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU), organized in partnership with The Lay Centre, began 28 May and came to a fruitful conclusion on 1st June. Participants from the United States and Canada met officials at the Roman Curia in the Vatican and visited historical sites in Rome related to Catholic higher education.

The main purpose of this program was to promote a culture of dialogue between Vatican dicasteries and presidents, senior administrators, and faculty leaders of Catholic universities. The discussion included the elements of Catholic identity, how to carry forward the tradition and charisms of institutions founded by religious orders, and how cultural activities, sports and worship can be part of the mission of Catholic institutions.

Among the highlights were visits to the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.

Participants met many officials who work in these Vatican offices. Among them were Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Bishop Paul Tighe, adjunct secretary at the same dicastery; Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Msgr Robert Oliver, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Visits to the American and Canadian embassies to the Holy See offered participants the perspective of the diplomatic missions on Catholic higher education, among other issues on which they collaborate with the Vatican.

From the artistic viewpoint, the group had the privilege to make a private visit to St Peter’s Basilica, guided by the head of the Fabrique of St Peter (Fabbrica di San Pietro), Dr Maria Cristina Carlo-Stella. The tour included an exclusive view of one of Michelangelo’s renowned marble sculptures, the Pietà, and a visit to the room of the wooden models of St Peter’s basilica, built between the 16th and 17th centuries.

ACCU delegates and spouses also attended the traditional Wednesday general audience, with Pope Francis, a few days before the Solemnity of Pentecost. On that occasion, the Holy Father had some inspiring words for those who work in Catholic higher education:

“The Spirit bears witness within our hearts to the consoling truth of God’s promises and the inheritance that awaits us as his beloved sons and daughters (cf. Rom 8:16).  Filled with this hope, we can become, in the words of Cardinal Newman, ‘consolers in the image of the Paraclete… advocates, helpers and bringers of comfort’ to others.  The Spirit, who brings hope to all creation (cf. Rom 8:20-22), also inspires in us love and respect for this world in which we live.”

Private visit to the Pietà chapel, with Dr Maria Cristina Carlo-Stella

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Busy spring at The Lay Centre

Students and staff of Caldwell College are photographed on the grounds of The Lay Centre during their study abroad program in Rome.

ROME — Studying abroad is a goal for many university students and an increasing number of American universities are offering such opportunities. This past spring, The Lay Centre welcomed to Rome several groups of students and faculty from American colleges and universities for their study abroad program. The Lay Centre facilitated part of their stay and programming in the city.

Among the university groups were the University of St. Thomas, Belmont Abbey College and Caldwell University in May. The Lay Centre also facilitated the annual meeting of the members Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in Rome last month.

In line with The Lay Centre’s mission to advance interreligious dialogue, the centre also organized a program for the students and faculty of Cambridge Muslim College and of the Center for Islamic Theology of the University of Tübingen in April.

Some American study abroad students have a lesson in the shade of the portico of The Lay Centre this past spring.

The program coincided with a public event, held at The Lay Centre, with Bishop Paul Tighe, adjunct secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Kerry Robinson, founding executive director and global ambassador of The National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management.

The Lay Centre is committed to offering and facilitating quality international programs as part of its mission of formation and education.

According to “Inside Higher Ed,” there has been a push in recent years to increase study abroad participation rates of American universities, so that more American young adults can better prepare for a career in a global economy.

Some students of of Belmont Abbey College gather on the grounds of The Lay Centre for their study abroad program.

Generation Study Abroad, a national initiative spearheaded by the Institute of International Education, seeks to double the number of American students studying abroad by the end of the decade. The mission of the organization is to create opportunities that will allow young adults to benefit from the positive experience of studying or interning internationally.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment