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Passion for dialogue inspires Lay Centre assistant director and controller

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Passion for dialogue inspires Lay Centre assistant director and controller

By Elena Dini

ROME — Clarissa Amaral was born and raised in Brazil and arrived in Italy in 2012. Before joining The Lay Centre, she worked as the bursar for the Redemptorists in Rome and collaborated with friends in various communications projects in her free time. It was her hobby that first brought her to The Lay Centre in 2016.

“I came here to help a friend livestream and record a Muslim speaker,” said Amaral, whose heart for interreligious dialogue was deeply touched by the speaker’s words. “Before that moment, I had never found a place where people talked about interreligious dialogue openly and were serious about learning and sharing with others on these topics.”

“My first impression of The Lay Centre was: ‘Wow, this is nice, and other people should know about this place,’” Amaral said. After the Mass that followed the lecture, a staff member of The Lay Centre approached Amaral and said The Lay Centre was looking for someone to work in communications.

“I accepted the offer,” she said.

Within three months, Amaral, who has a degree in business administration and marketing, was asked if she also would be willing to support The Lay Centre with a new accounting project. She accepted and became increasingly involved with finance and accounting. In 2019, Amaral shifted full time into finance, due to the growing workload in that area. She currently serves as one of the assistant directors and controller.

Her time in communications, however, was very fruitful. Under her leadership, The Lay Centre launched a new website and intranet, developed a new design for its printed and digital newsletters, and grew its social media outreach.

In her role, Amaral has had the opportunity to get to know all of the residents and visiting scholars at The Lay Centre. She spends time with them daily and it is common for everyday discussions to turn into special moments.

“I share the lunch table with people from different religions, countries, cultures, students, and professors who live in the house,” she said. “I remember a regular day when my lunch table was ‘well-served’ with Mark Richards, who sadly has since passed away, Karen Petersen Finch, Mel Robeck, and Christopher Donnelly, a mix of students and professors of different denominations. We started discussing different perspectives on a psalm. That day, my desire was to broadcast that moment, so that other people could enjoy it, too.”

In her private life, Amaral has a longstanding passion that she shares with her family — music — and she worked as a professional musician before moving to Italy (see more here: https://www.instagram.com/clarissaoficial/). Her musical talent has her attuned to harmony and able to recognize it in its many forms, including the harmony among the diverse members of The Lay Centre community.

“I have always believed in aggregation, dialogue, and collaboration as the most powerful things in the world,” she said, describing what she found at The Lay Centre.

“Working at The Lay Centre is an opportunity to learn so much,” she continued. “This is a place that receives blessings from God and enjoys the friendship of donors who want to support its charism and help build a new generation of lay leaders for the world.”

Photo by Cristian Gennari

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