What a week! I returned to Rome on Sunday, 26 September with time enough for lunch and a nap before beginning an intensive orientation week for the Russell Berrie Fellowship. Though I started the program last year, the orientation and several other aspects are new this year, and we welcome the third cohort, as the first has finished their course of study (I am in the second).
The new Fellows include priests from Poland, Ruanda, Nigeria and India and lay scholars from Chile, Ukraine, Gambia, India and the U.S. (including one seminarian, one religious sister, and one Muslim). In addition to the Latin Church (“Roman Catholic”), three of the Catholics are Eastern: the Ukrainian Greek, Syro-Malabar, and Syro-Malankara Catholic Churches are represented. More had studied in Rome previously than with my class, and I was reminded how little my Italian has advanced in the last year.
The Lay Centre served as the ‘base camp’ for our orientation, and there is something about sharing my home in Rome with friends and fellow Fellows that gives a special joy. This truly is a place of hospitality and dialogue, of retreat and study, and it is only a pity that more of the Fellows are not also residents the rest of the year! Insha’Allah…
It was an impressive schedule. Our first evening’s introductory remarks were from Dr. Donna Orsuto (Lay Centre Director, Pontifical University Gregoriana) and Dr. Adam Afterman (Shalom Hartman Institute, Tel Aviv University).
Owing to the schedule, I am back-filling some of my notes, but dating them as though they were real time. I hope it makes sense!