Student’s farewell: On Rome and its ‘ecumenical threads’

RuthFramptonOne of our residents, Ruth Frampton, returned to the United Kingdom today, after the completion of her six-week course of study in Rome. Yesterday, she generously shared with us her powerful experience in Rome and at The Lay Centre. Thank you, Ruth! We wish you well and promise to keep in touch!

Today is my last day; I fly home tomorrow. As I try to pack the assembled memories of six weeks in Rome into a shrunken suitcase, it seems a good moment to look back at the highlights of my stay. They all focus on people.

First and foremost is the community at The Lay Centre. If I had done nothing else at all in the six weeks, life in this community would have well justified the trip. It has been formational in so many ways: in learning how community forms and is maintained; in the pastoral experience it has given me; in learning from the example of its leaders, staff and students.

The ontology of The Lay Centre is ecumenism. It draws to itself so many of the ecumenical threads that pervade Rome, weaving them together into a tapestry of many traditions. I am privileged to have been part of it; I hope I may be responsible for a stitch in the final weave!

Equally supportive has been the Anglican Centre in Rome. I received an enormous welcome from Archbishop Sir David Moxon and the Rev Marcus Walker and their community. The Anglican Centre is a model of ecumenical hospitality and I have really enjoyed the Tuesday Eucharist and lunch.

There is frequent communication between The Lay Centre and the Anglican Centre: Archbishop David often visits to give talks, particularly now on the Global Freedom Network, the joint initiative of Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin.

The retreat in the Castelli Romani was a major highlight. It had been a long time: the Ignatian exercises confirmed me in my vocation…. I have grown close to several of the students here, united by a love of music.

One of them brought a ukulele with her; it was inspirational. The UkuleLay Centre Band now numbers seven, six when I leave, and will, I hope, help to advertise The Lay Centre, as well as continue to strengthen the community.

It has been fun to be a student again — Yes, I bought an Angelicum hoodie! … I have appreciated the lectures: they have led me to discover new authors and to re-evaluate others. The lectures at the Angelicum on spirituality and, at The Lay Centre, on “Women Making a Difference” have been particularly interesting.

Another major highlight on the personal front was my husband’s four-day visit. … It was so good to be able to share the people and places with him.

It is difficult to be apart from people you love. I am going to find it very difficult to say goodbye to the community here. But living in Rome, walking past the Coliseum and the fora each day, past the ruins of the temples, has given me a sense of the presence of history.

This is repeated in the churches: each is proud of its saint, the individual who is remembered for some particular event in their life, which makes them an appropriate role model. We are living among the “communion of saints”; there is a feeling here that past, present and future are all, in some fashion, contemporaneous. In our Night Prayer we pray for students of The Lay Centre past, present and future. This seems in no way strange; we are connected in the web of time, which is in some sense the love of God.

This makes separation and departure, and even death, easier to bear; we are not apart from each other, we are related in and through God’s love. … God’s love is the only web on which the ecumenical tapestry can be woven.

It has been a privilege to work with so many others who are committed to this craft: your witness has been inspirational. I pray that all of us involved in ecumenism in our diverse ways will be united in and through the love of God.

Thank you to all those people who have made this opportunity possible! I hope and pray that others will similarly benefit in the future. Arrivederci!

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