Join Our Student Community

If you are a lay person considering studies in Rome at one of the Pontifical Universities, Institutes or Athenae, why not consider joining our resident international student community?

A Residential Formation Program

As the constant teaching of the Church has recognized, the ecclesial mission of the laity flows from the Sacrament of Baptism.  For the lay faithful to discern their unique vocations in the communion and mission of the Church, they must learn to listen carefully to the Spirit who leads them through Christ to the Father.  The Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas is committed to helping lay women and men live this discernment by providing an environment which fosters an attitude of active listening.  Founded in 1986 as a place for lay students from around the world to live and study in Rome, The Lay Centre's mission is to provide a program of lay formation based on the four pillars of Christian formation identified by the Church: spiritual, intellectual, human and pastoral.

Spiritual Formation

At the Lay Centre, student life is marked by prayer together as a community.  The residence organizes daily celebrations of the Liturgy of the Hours, including Vespers.  Each Wednesday evening, different priests are invited to celebrate the Eucharist for the community.  A chapel, where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, is located on the ground floor of The Lay Centre.  The chapel is available at all time for personal prayer and organized group prayer.  The Lay Centre is also able to help students find a spiritual director in the city who can accompany them on their faith journey during their time in the Eternal City.

Intellectual Formation

The Lay Centre sponsors a regular series of theological lectures throughout the year on various themes.  Resident students help in planning and staffing these events.  They not only benefit from the content of the lectures, but the students often have the chance to engage the lecturers in an informal setting.  In addition, The Lay Centre regularly invites prominent figures in the academic and ecclesial world in Rome to join the community for meals.  These are opportunities for residents to engage in serious theological discussion and come to know current trends and activities around the city in a relaxed environment.

Human Formation

Residents of The Lay Centre have the opportunity to enrich their knowledge of culture, history and art through various excursions planned around the city of Rome.  Guided visits to the major basilicas and churches in Rome, and opportunities to join in other presentations and exhibits are offered throughout the academic year.  In addition, resident students are often invited to participate in excursions to historic sites and exhibitions outside Rome.  The Lay Centre also provides moments during the year when students are engaged in workshops with professionals in the fields of psychology and intercultural dynamics in order to facilitate human growth and maturation as an integral part of preparation for service to the Church in the world.  Professional psychological help can also be made available to students in need of counseling.

Pastoral Formation

Learning to reach out beyond one’s own needs in charity to others is an important part of learning Christian discipleship.  In addition to learning about caring for the needs of others in the daily life of a community, where all share housekeeping responsibilities, The Lay Centre helps students to find placement in volunteer services around the city.  Students can find opportunities to be mentored as they engage in such various pastoral services as feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, teaching catechesis or caring for the homeless. 

Residence at The Lay Centre

In addition to this program of formation, The Lay Centre provides students with a comfortable room that includes internet and telephone connectivity, and an active community life: Wednesday formation evenings, three-meals each day (including a self-service breakfast), the space and time for communal prayer, and regularly scheduled cultural and social events.  The Lay Centre staff is on hand to ease the transition to Roman life, and to provide the students with practical support. All residents are involved in The Lay Centre’s activities, from day-to-day, simple house tasks to helping with our various lecture series at special times during the year. 

Hospitality and Living the “Dialogue of Life”

In the spirit of Foyer Unitas, a ministry of hospitality of the Ladies of Bethany out of which The Lay Centre was born, the Lay Centre is characterized by a special attention to hospitality.  Just as the Ladies of Bethany had been entrusted by the Vatican with the particular mission of providing lodging for non-Catholic Christians and non-Christians in Rome, The Lay Centre is a Roman Catholic institution that provides a residence and runs programs that continue to build bridges of dialogue with other believers in keeping with the Church’s mission.  From its beginning, the Lay Centre has welcomed Protestant and Orthodox Christian students into its community.  Profound experiences of dialogue have also included the presence of Jewish and Muslim students in recent years.  The presence of these students, often at the request of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Interreligious Dialogue helps to promote a “dialogue of life” in which Catholics and others interact in a multicultural, ecumenical and interreligious community where mutual respect and genuine love - rooted in faith -  are the basis of a common life shared by people of good will. 

Why Live at the Lay Centre?

The Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas has welcomed hunderds of students from various nationalities, Christian denominations and religious traditions since it first opened in 1986. Click here to read three testimonials from former and current students about why the Lay Centre is the right home for them in Rome.

Application for Residence

The Lay Centre accepts applications throughout the year, but we advise interested parties to complete and submit an application as soon as possible because we review applicants on a first come, first served basis, and there are only a limited number of spaces for new residents.  Click here to learn about the procedure for application.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us by calling +39 06 772 6761 or sending an email to