By Elena Dini
ROME — Originally from Briona, situated in northern Italy, Monica Prandi arrived at The Lay Centre in 2019, after having met three Lay Centre resident scholars at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, where she studies.
“When I met Tommaso, Christopher and Stella, I was first amazed at finding other lay students, and then I discovered that they were living together at The Lay Centre,” Prandi said.
Prandi decided to visit The Lay Centre and then applied to become a resident scholar as well.
“I am used to being among priests and nuns, but here I am among lay people, and I enjoy the internationality of the community, the variety of habits, and ways of communicating,” she said.
Prandi worked as a religion teacher for about 10 years and served in her church community in various capacities.
“The Bible has always fascinated me and I wanted to transform this passion into a service I could offer to others,” said Prandi, who took a temporary leave from work to pursue her Biblical studies in Rome. “I still remember when, back in 2003, I felt called to go back (to school) to study Scripture. For some years I just kept that dream silent, but then things were arranged automatically and it allowed me to make this move.”
This dream come true led to the realization of another dream for Prandi — putting her knowledge at the service of others with the Vatican Ambassadorial Women’s Association (VAWA). The group has been meeting monthly at The Lay Centre since 2016. During these gatherings, Lay Centre Director Dr. Donna Orsuto guides the women in reflections on biblical passages. The group, similar to The Lay Centre resident community, is multinational and multilingual. The biblical passages and reflections are offered in up to four languages: English, French, Spanish, and Italian.
Prandi, who is a Leadership Scholar at The Lay Centre, has been collaborating with Dr. Orsuto this year in facilitating the group.
“There are two phases I enjoy: the first is one which the women participating at the meeting do not see,” said Prandi. “Donna and I work separately on the scriptural text we selected for the upcoming meeting. We usually take the Gospel of the following Sunday. We look for exegetical sources and then come together to discuss it.”
“Dr. Orsuto leads the gathering, thanks to her great didactic experience. Then people listen and share,” Prandi said. “What is at the centre of this experience is really the chance of getting closer to the Word of God and listening to each other. The result I witness is the creation of a small community.”
Prandi said she enjoys the monthly meetings a great deal and, she confided, they “respond to one of the goals I had when I chose to study at the Biblical Institute: to bring the Bible as a lay person to lay people.”