Posted by Filipe Domingues
New and old students from all over the world arrived at The Lay Centre full of energy to start the 2014-2015 academic year. Formed by graduate students and invited professors, the resident community represents 12 different countries: Belarus, Brazil, Canada, China (and Hong Kong), Cyprus, Germany, India, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), United Kingdom and USA. Always fostering ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, The Lay Centre welcomes this year five Orthodox students, a Muslim and a Buddhist monk.
Before classes started, residents enjoyed their free time together. In the first evenings, we gathered to play traditional songs of our countries, watched the movie Roman Holiday and went out for concerts in some of the most ancient basilicas of Rome.
Also, the community had a very pleasant Saturday morning, when the Australian Passionist Fr. Denis Travers took Lay Centre residents for a walk to the Passionist grounds on the Caelian Hill (where we live too).
More than that, he took us to some of the “secret places” of the property, like their dining room or the Passionist museum, that naturally are not open to the public. Fr. Denis also presided over Mass in our Holy Trinity Chapel.
By the way, community prayer has been one of the highlights of these first weeks of the academic year. On Sunday, five students organized by themselves a “Seven Churches Pilgrimage”, which is a very traditional pilgrimage to seven major basilicas of Rome, instituted by St. Philip Neri. It is a 15 mile (25 km) walk on a full day.
Classes started last Monday but there is a lot more to come at The Lay Centre. We will prepare an important lecture on Monday about the Synod on the Family (read more) and in the weekend our resident community goes in retreat to the region of the Castelli Romani, out of Rome. It will be a very special occasion for prayer and encounter.