Annual benefit recalls persecuted Christians

Dr Donna Orsuto, director of The Lay Centre, addresses friends and supporters at the annual benefit last month.

Dr Donna Orsuto, director of The Lay Centre, addresses friends and supporters at the annual benefit last month.

A wonderful group of long-time supporters of The Lay Centre and new friends gathered in Washington, D.C., last month for the centre’s annual benefit.

The event, held at Georgetown Visitation, included Vespers, a reception and a lecture by Rev Prof Leo D. Lefebure, who is the Matteo Ricci, S.J., Professor of Theology at Georgetown University.

In his lecture Feb. 2, Fr Lefebure spoke of the discrimination, persecution, and violence faced by Christian communities in recent years from militant groups, who often claim to act in the name of religion. The title of his lecture was: “‘You Will Be My Witnesses’ (Acts 1:8): Following Jesus Christ in a World of Conflict and Suffering.”

“The lecture of Fr Lefebure was both moving and informative,” said Dr Donna Orsuto, director of The Lay Centre. “The topic was a difficult one, but timely, especially in light of recent events. Fr Lefebure brought personal insights from widespread travel and research.”

A video of the lecture is expected to become available soon.

Rev Dr John Crossin, OSFS, presided the Vespers. Fr Crossin is executive director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue. Dr Kathleen DeJardin, music director, generously arranged for the Vespers, which were sung by one of The Lay Centre’s board members, Mike Schultz. Sylvia Mullins, an alumna of The Lay Centre, helped with the organization.

“The wonderful thing about the evening is that it was a typical Lay Centre event, but in Washington,” said Dr Orsuto. “The reception was festive and people entered into lively discussion.”

“It was great to have our board members with us, also Dr Margaret Melady, former president of American University, Rome, and Mrs Suzanne Nicholson,” she added.

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