By Filipe Domingues
Every year, The Lay Centre welcomes 20 or so students to its resident community. They come from around the world to study in Rome, mostly at pontifical universities.
The Lay Centre resident community is both interreligious and ecumenical. The community currently includes one Buddhist, one Muslim, five Orthodox Christians and 14 Roman Catholics. An Anglican student resided in the community for the first six weeks of the year.
This year, the residents are all graduate students and come from 13 countries: Belarus, Brazil, Canada, China and Hong Kong, Cyprus, Germany, India, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Myanmar, the United Kingdom and the United States.
In the first few months of the year, the residents have gone on retreat together and continue to nurture their community life through common prayer and social events, such as cultural visits and the celebration of American Thanksgiving.
Varasami is a Buddhist monk from Myanmar. He said The Lay Centre is one of the highlights of his time in Italy.
“It’s good to be in a community that is a very culturally, ethnically, and geographically diverse. You get a great opportunity to know about different traditions,” he said.
Anish Joy, a Catholic resident from India, said The Lay Centre offers its residents a place to grow in spirituality. “It cares and protects us from external distractions,” he added.
Assel Baiturlina is a Muslim student from Kazakhstan. She said a great part of her experience of dialogue comes from the interaction with her fellow residents.
“In this short period of time, they already became my second family,” she said. “I am very grateful to God for giving me this opportunity to live with amazing people in such an amazing place.”