“Charity Night” is an initiative of the high school and university students who come to the Miradores Study Center in Uruguay. They collect non-perishable food items, which are distributed once a month to homeless people sleeping on the streets of Montevideo. This provides the young fellows with an opportunity to make contact with these people, learn about their hardships, and pass on to them some encouragement and advice.
Activities of Harambee
Harambee Polska (Harembee in Poland) presented in Rome the project Leczymy z misją (“we try to cure with a spirit of mission”), a volunteer initiative involving medical students. As part of this program a group of 18 students collected and sent to Africa more than eleven tons of hospital equipment: beds to help women giving birth, apparatus for providing echograms, sterilization equipment, etc., as well as over a thousand pairs of shoes for children at an orphanage. The medical students traveled to Africa to help out in three missionary hospitals and an orphanage. They gave courses on sanitation, helped provide medical services, and consulted the more difficult cases with doctors in Poland. Harambee Polska also helped finance a water pump for one of the hospitals.
São Paulo, Brazil
In the Year of Mercy
“Love, after all, can never be an abstract word. By its very nature it is concrete: intentions, attitudes, behaviors…” These and other words of Pope Francis have served as a stimulus for the young people who receive spiritual formation in the centers of the Prelature in São Paulo, spurring them to put into operation various service initiatives throughout the Holy Year of Mercy. These included regular visits to hospitals to provide affection and small acts of service to the sick; responses to humanitarian crises, such as the group of volunteers who traveled to a city in the country’s interior to help repair buildings damaged by a violent storm; and study sessions on the works of mercy.
My Home, a Place of Peace
During September, the Family Institute at the Sabana University organized in Bogotá the Eighth International Congress on the Family: My Home, a Place of Peace. The aim of the Congress was to reflect on the pillars that make possible harmonious and peaceful life in the home and to share experiences on trying to solve family conflicts in various scenarios of daily life. More than 650 people took part.
Eschatology: Analysis and Perspectives
From November 24 to 26, in collaboration with the Joseph Ratzinger–Benedict XVI Foundation, the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross hosted an International Symposium on “Eschatology: Analysis and Perspectives.” The sessions were inaugurated by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
On the 24th, presentations were given by Professors Paul O’Callaghan, Thoma Söding, and Romano Penna, and by the Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni. A workshop was also held on eschatological perspectives in Judaism, with the rabbi of Genoa, Giuseppe Momigliano, and Professor Moshe Idel from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem taking part.
The session on Friday the 25th was opened with a presentation by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. Following this, Professors Bernardo Estrada and Maurizio Marcheselli offered reflections on the place of eschatology in the Gospels of St. Luke and St. John. Professors Santiago del Cura, Riccardo Battochio, and Robert Wozniak then offered a seminar on the study of eschatology in the theological formation of students.
On November 26, in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican, Pope Francis presented the Ratzinger Prize to the researchers Inos Biffi and Ioannis Kourempeles.
A Work Camp
In the framework of the Year of Mercy, Japanese students from Seido Cultural Center in Ashiya and Yoshida Student Center in Kyoto, together with Indonesian students from Griya Semeru Study Center in Surabaya, took part in a work camp in Madiun during August. The work involved restoring several classrooms and constructing a septic tank at Santo Realino, a high school attached to the local Catholic parish. The school has about 100 students, both Catholics and Muslims. Those taking part organized catechism classes and recreational activities for the children in the village. Upon returning, some of them formed a committee to begin preparing a social assistance project for the following year.
Cardinal Sturla visits CADI
On November 4, the Archbishop of Montevideo, Cardinal Daniel Sturla, visited the Center for Integral Development (called CADI, after its initials in Spanish), an institution that promotes the social development of people in a poor outlying district of Montevideo. The Cardinal spent time at the Los Rosales School (one of the programs offered by CADI), and spoke with the girls studying there and prayed with them for those who are sick. Cardinal Sturla also celebrated a Mass at which those working at the Center took part.
“Viva la Vida”
The parish of St. Josemaría Escrivá in Valencia celebrated a week in support of life from October 17 to 23. Activities included the projection of the film “A los más pequeños” (“To the smallest ones”). This was followed by a round table with Pablo Siegrist, director of the Spanish delegation of the Jerome Lejeune Foundation; Julio Tudela, director of the Bioethics program at the Catholic University of Valencia; and Patricia Lorenzo, President of the Red Madre (Network for Mothers) Foundation.
On Wednesday the 19th, the first conference in the “Training Course for the Defense of Life” took place. Ana Capa, who teaches at the John Paul II Institute and has a master’s degree in Bioethics, was in charge of the session, entitled “Human Dignity and Prenatal Life.” A round table on euthanasia was held on Friday the 21st, with María Victoria Espinar, medical internist in the Palliative Care Unit of the Doctor Miliner Hospital; Elena de Paz, nurse in the Intensive Care Unit of the Doctor Peset Hospital; and Jaime Vilarroig, professor of Bioethics and Anthropology in the School of Medicine and Nursing at the Cardinal Herrera University.
On Sunday the 23rd, Mass was celebrated for the participants preceded by the praying of a rosary for life. A “prayer for life” was then read that won a children’s competition organized by the parish. During the entire week, items useful for newborns were collected, which were later distributed to various solidarity associations.
Community Outreach Program
Students from Stathmore University in Kenya took part in a new edition of the Community Outreach Program, an educational project directed to the inmates in Naivasha Main Prison. The students donated study materials and gave courses in accounting to help the prisoners find work on their release. Over 1,500 students contributed to this effort. According to the director of the prison, Bonaventure Mukhwana Mutali, “this program is providing a big help in reducing illiteracy and criminal activity in the country.”
Knowing in order to Love
From December 15 to 17, the Panamerican University (Guadalajara campus) hosted the International Seminar on Teaching the Faith. Through theoretical and practical sessions and workshops, a number of education professionals, chaplains, pastoral directors and catechists from ten countries reflected in depth on the aims, methods, and effectiveness of religion classes. Topics discussed included the tie between theological knowledge and educational practice, and practical teaching strategies aimed at passing on the faith.
After an Earthquake
A group of Japanese university students who take part in the activities at Seido Cultural Center and Yoshida Student Center went in September to Kumamoto, a city in the south of Japan affected by a major earthquake five months ago. They worked in cooperation with local authorities and other people coming from all over the country, to try to restore stability to the affected areas. Despite the time that had passed since the natural disaster, the destructive effects of the earthquake were still evident, as were the needs of many people affected by it. Besides their volunteer work, those who so wished were offered the possibility of receiving talks about human and Christian formation.
Romana, No. 63, July-December 2016, p. 361-364.