By Stefanie Bross
Amid the tranquility of the Capuchin cloister in Frascati, Lay Centre residents began the new academic year with a three-day retreat, led by Father Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm. Father Millán is a professor of theology at Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid and the former prior general of the Carmelite Order. A cherished friend of The Lay Centre, he guided participants through the captivating narrative of the disciples of Emmaus in the Gospel of Luke.
The retreat mirrored the journey of Cleopas and the “unnamed disciple,” whose encounter with Jesus transforms their uncertainty into a deep experience of faith. Beginning with some insights on Luke and his writing, Father Millán gave participants questions for their personal reflection. Beyond having ample space for contemplation, attendees also had the opportunity to engage in private conversations with Father Millán and seek spiritual guidance.
“I particularly liked our final session, which introduced us to a new dimension of spirituality; the portrayal of the Emmaus story by great masters like Caravaggio, Velázques and Rembrandt,” said Karina Gandur, who studies ecumenism at the Pontifical Gregorian University. She also highlighted the openness and willingness of participants to share deep and personal insights with one another.
The various forms of prayer and worship integral to the retreat – Lectio divina, the serenity of Adoration, the Liturgy of the Hours, the meditative ambiance of Taizé chants, and the sacredness of Mass – became moments of great communion.
However, on Saturday evening, participants shared a different ambiance in a moment of conviviality.
"This academic year The Lay Centre community has members from 15 different countries with varied cultural and religious backgrounds,” said Dr. Filipe Domingues, The Lay Centre’s deputy director. “It was truly beautiful to witness how this group of people is now becoming a unique and vibrant community.”
Before departing for Rome, each participant shared with the group one spiritual insight and one pearl of wisdom gained during the retreat, which will serve as guiding lights in the challenging academic and spiritual journey that lies ahead.
Photo: Evelyn Blacklock