By Luca Badetti
ROME — The Lay Centre facilitated the 2019 Rome pilgrimage of the board of trustees of St. Mary’s University, held May 25 to May 31. “A Rome Pilgrimage: Building on the Spiritual, Cultural and Educational” was a special occasion for the pilgrims from San Antonio, Texas, to gather in Rome and explore the city’s historic and religious riches.
The delegation from St. Mary’s, which is the oldest Catholic university in Texas, was composed of 21 board members, as well as other key university figures, including President Dr. Tom Mengler and his wife, Mona. The Lay Centre led and organized the group’s visits throughout Rome and to St. Benedict’s Monastery in Subiaco.
The program included cultural discovery, spiritual enrichment and group reflection. The group visited major Roman churches, including the basilicas of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and St. Mary Major, and various city landmarks, including the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. They also participated in occasions that underscored St. Mary’s University connection to the Catholic spiritual tradition.
The group attended a general audience with Pope Francis and celebrated Mass at the tomb of the St. John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica, presided by Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. They also engaged in moments of dialogue over shared meals at The Lay Centre and at the Trattoria degli Amici, a local restaurant connected to the Sant’Egidio community, where persons with disabilities work alongside volunteers.
Pilgrims also journeyed to Subiaco to learn more about St. Benedict’s life and to explore the connection between the Benedictine order and the Society of Mary (Marianists), the religious congregation to which the university belongs.