Intellectual, spiritual life 'embrace each other' at The Lay Centre, says visiting professor

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Intellectual, spiritual life 'embrace each other' at The Lay Centre, says visiting professor

By Elena Dini

ROME — Despite hot and hazy days, academic life in Rome continues over the summer. 

“The Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, of which I am a member, always organizes its annual meeting around mid-June,” said Professor Reinhard Huetter, who teaches fundamental and dogmatic theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He came to Rome for the meeting and chose to stay at The Lay Centre with his wife of 33 years, Nancy. 

The Huetters are not new to The Lay Centre. They discovered it thanks to Stephan Kampowski, Lay Centre alumnus and professor of philosophical anthropology at the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute in Rome. 

“Stephan was really excited about The Lay Centre, so when I came to Rome seven years ago, I met the director, Professor Donna Orsuto,” said Professor Huetter. “I learned about the mission of the place and I asked her if the following year I could stay here during my annual visit to Rome.”

The Huetters both entered into full communion with the Catholic Church in 2004, he from the Lutheran Church and she from the Methodist Church. 

“We felt, therefore, so much in line with the ecumenical mission of The Lay Centre,” said the professor.

The couple came to The Lay Centre for the first time six years ago with their two sons. The husband and wife have returned each summer since then for a short visit. This June, they came for a couple of weeks. 

“This is a place for students and pilgrims, and this is part of what we like,” he said. “Here, intellectual and spiritual life embrace each other in a profoundly Catholic experience rooted in its ecumenical mission.”

“We also enjoy being with the students. We are impressed by the variety of students living here, their hospitality and interest in learning,” he continued. “We were at the table with a Muslim student a few days ago and she asked me about Luther and the Reformation. This was a great opportunity to share and the setting invites this kind of interaction.”

Time in Rome gives the couple the chance to attend conferences and enjoy the spiritual riches of the eternal city. 

“Here, we don’t feel tourists; we are pilgrims,” he said.

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