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Faith. Learning. Dialogue. Community.
Intrinsically Catholic, The Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas is dedicated to the formation of the laity and to the promotion of the lay vocation in the Church and in the world.
It also works to promote Christian unity and to create opportunities for genuine encounter and sincere dialogue with people of other religions.
In view of its mission, The Lay Centre offers formation programs and conferences to local and international groups, as well as to the lay students, enrolled in pontifical universities in Rome, who live at The Lay Centre.



The Lay Centre is active in the local Church, offering retreats and continued faith formation classes through its Vincent Pallotti Institute. Each year, The Lay Centre welcomes the general public for conferences and meetings on current social and religious issues.
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The Lay Centre hosts international programs that make the Eternal City come alive as a place of learning and encounter for groups of university students, professors, and administrators from around the world. Programs include courses, seminars and retreats on various themes.
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The Lay Centre is home to an international ecumenical and interreligious student community, engaging in “a dialogue of daily life”. Residents are offered cultural, spiritual and social activities that complement their studies and equip them for leadership.
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Donna Orsuto

Donna Orsuto
Donna Orsuto is a professor of spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Originally from the United States, she also lectures and gives retreats worldwide. She has authored two books and numerous articles in the area of spirituality. Active in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, Dr. Orsuto serves as a member of the Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue of the Diocese of Rome. Pope Benedict XVI named her a Dame of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of Saint Gregory the Great in 2011. She is president of The Lay Centre’s Board of Directors.
Riekie van Velzen

Riekie van Velzen
Riekie van Velzen is an artist, whose work ranges from iconography and ancient painting techniques to digital. Her pieces are exhibited in private collections worldwide and her sacred works have been commissioned for several Italian churches. Through art, she also raises awareness about ecology. A native of the Netherlands, she is married and a proud grandmother and mother of two. Pope Benedict XVI named her a Dame of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of Saint Sylvester in 2011. She is vice-president of The Lay Centre’s Board of Directors.


The Lay Centre offers a home for lay students enrolled in pontifical universities in Rome, who want to integrate their academic studies with opportunities for spiritual growth, service and dialogue. Students who live at The Lay Centre are eager to participate in community life, share in dialogue with students from different countries, Christian denominations and religions, and partake in the formative and spiritual activities of the centre.


If you would like to support The Lay Centre’s mission to offer formation programs for the laity and to promote ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, both locally and internationally, please feel free to make a donation to the special fund set up by our benefactors through the National Catholic Community Foundation (NCCF).

To make gifts online in U.S. dollars, simply go to the NCCF website, where you will find “Friends of The Lay Centre Fund” listed under “Gift Designation”.

Gifts made by check in U.S. dollars should be made payable to “NCCF/Friends of The Lay Centre” and mailed to: The National Catholic Community Foundation, 1321 Generals Highway – Suite 202, Crownsville MD 21032, U.S.A.

If you would also like to donate your time and talent, please contact us at:

Thank you for your support.

The Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas Institute is a legally recognized institute in Italy (c.f. 04359941004 – n. REA 0899422). In the United States, it is incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation and is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.


The Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas

Sede secondaria in Italia
Largo della Sanità Militare, 60
00184 Rome, Italy
Tel: +39 06 772 6761
Fax: +39 06 772 676 235
p.IVA – c.f. 04359941004
Iscr. alla C.C.I.A.A. di Roma al n. REA 0899422
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