Friends of The Lay Centre explore Rome’s spiritual and cultural treasures

Some participants from A Journey of Faith, enjoying a moment in St Peter's Square. From left to right: Jim Barton; Fr Roy Tvrdik, SMM; Kathleen Savage; Linda Taggart; and Donald Twombly.  (PHOTO: R White)

Some participants from A Journey of Faith enjoying a moment in St Peter’s Square. From left to right: Jim Barton; Fr Roy Tvrdik, SMM; Kathleen Savage; Linda S. Taggart; Donald Twombly
(PHOTO: R White)

The expression, non basta una vita (one life is not enough) can, arguably, be one of the more precise ways to describe experiencing the city of Rome.

There are numerous facets to this complex metropolis, where the sacred and the secular, the ancient and the contemporary mingle in a uniquely balanced relationship.

Recently, The Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas organized a program entitled, A Journey of Faith, which assisted a group of American, long-time friends of The Lay Centre in exploring Rome’s spiritual, cultural and theological treasures.

This event, which ran from 2-13 July, provided the participants with fellowship and daily prayer in all of the city’s major basilicas, which was celebrated by Fr Roy Tvrdik, SMM who travelled to Rome to serve as chaplain for the program. Individual celebrations, such as the Sacrament of Reconciliation, were also offered.

The group lived at The Lay Centre, where they joined in community with some of the Centre’s residents. While there they shared delicious, homemade Italian meals and engaging conversation. They also celebrated the Fourth of July with an American picnic-style dinner, prepared by one of The Lay Centre chefs.

Robert White, The Lay Centre’s Assistant for Programs, led visits to various churches, most notably Rome’s cathedral, The Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano. They also visited other monuments acclaimed for their aesthetic importance—such as the Chiostro del Bramante where they saw the exhibit, “Chagall: Love and Life.”

One of the cultural highlights was an evening at the opera, where the group had the pleasure of listening to Giacomo Puccini’s masterpiece, “Madama Butterfly,” which was performed in the Baths of Caracalla.

The program culminated with a day trip to Subiaco, and a visit to the Monastery of St Benedict. At this venerated site, they participated in a mass and procession in the Sacro Speco (the “holy cave,” where St Benedict spent three years discerning his vocation) to commemorate the solemnity of the Father of Western Monasticism and Patron of Europe.

“I was thrilled to learn about this program,” said Professor Linda S. Taggart, an adjunct professor at St Leo University in Florida, who was part of The Lay Centre community in 2012-2013 when she was a Russell Berrie Fellow, who went on to earn a graduate certificate in Interreligious Studies at the University of St Thomas Aquinas—also known as the Angelicum.

“My time in this city, and particularly living at The Lay Centre, marked an important period in my life. I wanted to return and retrace my steps, and make many more with others who support fostering lay vocations,” she said.

“Coming back to Rome and to The Lay Centre is like returning home. I’ve had such profound experiences in both, but there are always more to be had,” she added.

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