A new Lay Centre student writes…

The Lay Centre welcomed its new student residents for the 2012-13 academic year during in the first week of October. The director, Donna Orsuto, and the centre’s staff gave an orientation to the students about their new lives and routines.

This year, the centre has 18 student residents from 11 countries, including 15 Roman Catholic Christians, three Orthodox Christians, and one Buddhist monk. All of them study at pontifical universities or institutes in Rome.

During the first week, the students were assisted with registration and with their application for resident permits. The centre held its first Mass to give thanks for the start of the new academic year on Oct. 3.

Rev. Miceál O’Neill, OCD, prior of the Centro Internazionale di Sant’Alberto, celebrated the Mass. In his homily on Lk 9:57-62, Rev. O’Neill reminded the community that there are no frontiers for God, including for those who leave their homes and families. After dinner, he spoke about living in a community. He said everyone in a community has an individual purpose, but it is also essential that its members build something together and learn to love the community, to share and to not forget its divine dimension.

The following day, Rev. Tim Costello, SM, professor of psychology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, gave a talk on “Building Healthy Relationships”. He said the second chapter of the Act of the Apostles is a good point of reference for many groups of people living together because it presents an ideal for life in a community that considers each one’s needs, shares food and praises God.

“But reality is sometimes different when we compare our experiences with Scripture,” he said. He underlined that that Saint Paul often speaks about disagreements in communities. Rev. Costello said members of a new community always have expectations when they come together – both realistic and unrealistic – and those expectations should always be communicated. Community works better with two qualities: generosity and gratitude, he said. “Nothing builds communities more than this two aspects,” he added.

On Friday, Rev. Milan Zust, SJ, collaborator at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, joined the centre’s community for dinner and spoke about “Living Ecumenism”. He shared some of his personal experiences, saying the most important thing for dialogue is hearing both sides of any discussion. According to Rev. Zust, the conflicts in human relationships are usually related to prejudice. “We must bring people together, so that they can meet and end the prejudice,” he said. He explained how people should seek to understand what the other person wants to say, instead of “only looking at her (or him) from my point of view.”

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