By Mirticeli Dias de Medeiros
FRASCATI, Italy — Lay Centre residents participated in their annual retreat in the Italian town of Frascati, located about 40 km south of Rome in the region of the Roman Castles.
Jesuit Father Felix Körner, a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, led the three days of reflection, during which the students were invited to meditate on the conversion of St. Paul, based on excerpts from Scripture. Students were invited to enter into the mystery of the encounter with the Divine with the use of the famous Caravaggio painting of St. Paul, “The Conversion on the Way to Damascus.”
For students from other Christian denominations, the retreat was a moment to learn more about the spirituality of Catholicism and to strengthen ties with other students from various countries and cultures.
“Apart of the spiritual impact, I believe it was a beneficial experience for all of us. Leaving Rome, our academic environment and our program was a step further to really get to know each other; and I can say with certainty that strong bonds of friendship and respect were forged between us these days,” said Eliza Kydoniefs, a Greek Orthodox student of dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Urban University.
Ravi Nadan Singh, one of two Hindu students at The Lay Centre this year, said he was impressed by the climate of integration generated by this time dedicated to spirituality.
“Such collective moments make it manifest that a set of people living together can be ported from one place to another and the affinities can prosper just as well,” said Singh, who is studying the foundations of Catholicism at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum).
The retreat is held once a year for all Lay Centre students. In addition to the spiritual aspect, the purpose of the retreat is to offer students a time for sharing and reflection, so that everyone can feel part of the same family and experience a climate of fraternity and dialogue.
The retreat was held at the convent of the Capuchin Friars of Frascati, founded in 1575, during the pontificate of Gregory XIII. The other villas in the Roman Castles region were built mostly in the same period.