By Elena Dini
ROME — The Lay Centre community welcomed Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar of Pope Francis for the Diocese of Rome, for a visit Feb. 17. The cardinal celebrated Mass for the community and then joined the young scholars and visiting professors for dinner and conversation.
“I am surprised by the gift I see in our Diocese of Rome. It’s a perpetual discovery,” he said at the beginning of his homily. “In the past, I saw the arrow indicating the direction to The Lay Centre, and today I can finally meet you.”
Cardinal De Donatis then preached on the Gospel reading of the day (Mk 8:11-13) and invited the community to reflect on what it really means to believe.
“In this text of the Gospel according to Mark, Jesus just offers a sign in multiplying the bread, but these people ask him for a sign, more to attest to his divine origin. They represent those believers who do not want to risk it all and prefer an extraordinary manifestation of God to support their faith,” he said.
Referring to the day’s first reading (James 1:1-11), the cardinal spoke of being tested in one’s faith.
“Our faith does not grow when we put God to the test, asking for a sign. Rather, it grows when we are the ones being tested,” he said. “A test allows me to renew my adhesion, and thus love grows.”
“Fraternity is the fruit of this faith, and here I touch the experience Providence is allowing you to live (at The Lay Centre),” he said. “We do not receive special signs from heaven, but brothers and sisters to walk with. Faced with our desire of receiving clues, God prefers to give us a sign of fraternity.”
Cardinal De Donatis learned about The Lay Centre and its threefold mission, which focuses on the formation of the laity, as well as the promotion of Christian unity and interreligious dialogue. He expressed appreciation for the community’s diversity.
“The presence of such a place of formation for laity is unique, something extraordinary that touches me,” he said. “Indeed, there are many colleges and centres for priests, but few for lay people. This a reality that was inspired.”
The cardinal invited The Lay Centre community to keep establishing close relationships with other ecclesial organizations and thus live the joy of “exchanging gifts, experiences and cultures,” which he said, “is urgent and fruitful.”
Lay Centre director Donna Orsuto introduced Cardinal De Donatis to the members of the community, both the young scholars and visiting professors, during the dinner hour.
Caption: Cardinal Angelo De Donatis celebrates the Eucharist in the chapel of The Lay Centre Feb. 17. He is accompanied by his secretary, Don Pablo Walter Castiglia (seated).