Publicizing “Caritas in Veritate”
On February 9, the Foundation for Education and Development presented the DVD “10 Ideas about the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate in Las Claras Cultural Center. Over a hundred business people attended. This DVD of five minutes duration is aimed at increasing interest in the encyclical and the social doctrine of the Church among those who work in the world of business. The brief documentary is available to the public on YouTube.
Reflections on school culture
“Dangerous Schools for Boys: Winning Hearts and Minds.” Under that title, the Thomas More Institute of London organized a symposium on May 24-25 on the frequent disconnect between pre-adolescent and adolescent boys and formal school education. The symposium focused on five key influences at work here: lessons to be drawn from gang culture; changing attitudes to masculinity in society at large, and, with this, the Arts; the climate within the classroom; the escapism of virtual reality; and factors icharacter formation. Among the experts taking part were professors of education, a representative from the national Department of Education, and the headmasters of two prestigious private high schools. The role of the tutor in the education of young people was also considered at length.
A Family Album
In recent years the Institute for Teaching and Development has promoted a program for strengthening the family, which is offered to associations of parents and teachers, family clubs, educational institutions, university faculties, etc. Entitled “A Family Album,” the program’s methodology includes both traditional classes for couples, and movie forum sessions coordinated by moderators. The film being viewed is interrupted from time to time to foster the exchange of impressions about the attitudes and values the family drama is presenting. Those attending identify with the problems raised by the actors and reflect on their own lives. Among topics discussed are questions related to patience, fortitude, conjugal love, the value of good friends and advisors. The main stress in on the virtues of fidelity, prudence and perseverance, key virtues in any relationship that seeks to be lasting. Among many other institutions, the program has been held in associations of parents and teachers at various high schools, in the Federal University of Paraná, and in the Federal University of Technology of Paraná, with hundreds of participants.
An island in Casavalle
“Where one lives cannot be allowed to determine how one lives.” This is how the director of the Center for Integral Development explains the premise for this corporate work of apostolate run by the women’s branch of Opus Dei. Currently it provides assistance to more than 600 families in Casavalle, a district known for its extreme poverty and the lowest educational indicators in the country. Its mission is the social and cultural development of children and families through the educational, occupational and communitarian advancement of women. The resources to cover the annual budget are obtained through the support of 103 companies and contributions from individuals and foundations.
Cadi (the program’s acronym in Spanish) includes the largest pre-school educational center in Uruguay, for 600 children under three years of age. The youngest take part in a “workshop” designed to stimulate their awakening powers, together with their parents, to fortify the bond between them, and making use of the assistance of early childhood specialists when necessary.
In addition, a youth club offers extracurricular activities (study, English, computers, music) to 120 girls between the ages of five and twelve. In the Casavalle district there are many barriers to overcome. Over 70% of the young people have left school and are not seeking employment; among whom are 3,000 girls between 15 and 19. Once the school day is finished, Cadi offers formative opportunities such as multimedia management, which was begun this year. Ninety percent of those taking part obtain employment. There is also a high percentage of girls who, now graduates and often working, undertake new studies, because they discover they can surpass their expectations.
San Jose, Costa Rica
At the service of literature teachers
Since 2007, training workshops have been held in San Jose, Costa Rica, for teachers of Spanish language and literature. These workshops are offered at the Educational Research Institute of the University of Costa Rica, and analyze the works of Latin American writers. Over the past few years, more than three hundred teachers have been helped to give a Christian perspective to the study of literary works in the plan of studies of the Ministry of Public Education.
In imparting these sessions the organizers are helped by the research of an international network of writers, and they benefit from the Central American Conference on Written Culture promoted annually by some faithful of Opus Dei together with other people. The aim of these classes is to give teachers the instruments needed to analyze literary works. It also gives them an opportunity to know classical and contemporary writers, whose work is published annually in Encuentros y Coloquios. This journal seeks to foster literature and literary criticism that accords with the dignity of the human person. Last January this project received a “Declaration of Educational Interest” from the Ministry of Education.
The art of preaching
The need to express one’s thoughts effectively is also felt by priests. To help meet this need, the Center for Priestly Formation at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross organized the Ars Predicandi seminar.
This seminar took place between February and April in eight sessions imparted by Professors Albert Gil, professor of the Theory of Translation and Rhetoric at the University of the Saar (Germany), and Rev. Sergio Tapia, teacher of Techniques of Oral Discourse and Media Training at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.
Throughout the course, both the virtues that the preacher should acquire, and the means at priests’ disposal to communicate the Gospel message more effectively were considered. Also discussed were the techniques for effective public speaking and the different types of sacred oratory. One idea that permeated the cycle was the need to put the ars predicandi at the service of the new evangelization, as Pope Benedict XVI has constantly stressed.
Art, history, and religion in dialogue
In December 2011, the Diploma Course in Argentinean Culture, presented by the University Study Center (CUDES) concluded. The course was aimed at providing a general knowledge of Argentinean culture, especially in the fields of art, history, and religion. Music, painting, theater, literature, architecture, and film are some of the subjects dealt with by major speakers in a weekly two-hour session. The course was directed by Dr. Pedro Luis Barcia, president of the Argentinean Academy of Letters and professor at the Austral University.
The initiative arose in 2010, coinciding with the Bicentennial of the First Patriotic Government of Argentina. It also organized guided tours to such places as the Argentinean Academy of Letters, the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Teatro Colon, a synagogue (conducted by Rabbi Abraham Moguilevsky), a mosque, etc. Considerable interest was shown in the visit to the home of the writer, Victoria Ocampo.
Lecturers included prestigious historians such as Lucia Galvez, Maria Saenz Quesada, Nestor Ruiz Moreno and Luis Alberto Romero; outstanding fiction writers and essayists such as Abel Posse, Pablo de Santis and Marcos Aguinis; specialists in the visual arts, whether as scholars, collectors, dealers, or journalists, such as Alberto Belluci, Juan Cambiaso, Ignacio Gutierrez Zaldivar and Alicia de Arteaga. In addition, speaking about the Catholic Church, the Protestant confessions, Judaism, and Islam were Nestor Auza, Ana Woites, Gloria Williams de Padilla, Gabriel Minkowicz, Ricardo Elia and Hilario Wynarczyk. Also speaking on philosophical topics were priests such as Francisco Leocata and Victor Manuel Fernandez, rector of the Catholic University of Argentina.
To close the course, the students spent a day at La Chacra in Bella Vista, the place where St. Josemaria resided during his stay in Argentina in 1974. Msgr. Mariano Fazio, Vicar of the Prelature of Opus Dei in Argentina, reflected on the relations between Church and state in the history of Argentina. In a relaxed atmosphere, the participants shared a lunch and were able to ask the speaker many questions.
Auckland, New Zealand
Social Project in Christchurch
In January 2012, Glenrowan Study Centre, in Auckland, organized a group of young New Zealanders to help out at the “Eleazar Children’s Farmstay” near Christchurch. This institution provides assistance to school children who experience difficulties concentrating at school. The powerful earthquake in February 2011 had caused widespread damage, and frequent aftershocks were still being felt in January 2012. Various buildings required repairs and the main building at the “Farmstay” needed a new coat of paint. The volunteers came from Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, and Christchurch. The boys who come to “Farmstay” on weekends and during vacations are given an opportunity to work on the farm and care for the animals, and also to improve their social relationships.
Solidarity Work Camp
The past several years, the Amura Club in Madrid has organized work camps for high school students in Morocco, in collaboration with various social assistance institutions. The latest one took place in Tetuan, a city in the north of the country with more than 300,000 inhabitants. The goal was to help out in the Dari Center, which houses orphaned children, some of them with physical or mental deficiencies. This center was founded by a Catholic religious, and later continued by a Muslim pharmacist. During the work camp those taking part were able to see at close hand the needs of others, and for the children of the orphanage they were days of special joy and diversion.
Dialogues on Christian marriage
From March 19 to 21, a symposium for priests was held at Thornycroft Hall under the title “The Rechristianization of Marriage, the Family, and the Education of Children for the Next Generation.” Cardinal James Stafford, Major Penitentiary emeritus, spoke on the topic “A man and a woman, united in one flesh.” Other conference speakers were Mary Killeen, director of studies on marriage and the family at the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham; David Kingsley, specialist in pediatric psychiatry; Louise Kirk, editor and translator of the program “Alive to the World”; Msgr. Gordon Read, Judicial Vicar and Chancellor of the Diocese of Brentwood; and Father Robert Farrell.
Ten days in The Forge
In December 2011, the Sumaré Center of University Studies, in São Paulo, organized a work camp in Curitiba, Paraná. The work involved renovation of the site of the Instituto Forja (The Forge Institute), an educational initiative promoted by a group of faithful of Opus Dei and cooperators for needy children in an outlying section of the city. The Institute offers young people the opportunity to receive both a broad extracurricular formation and professional preparation, with courses in computers and gardening, along with classes on ethics. The Forge Institute provides personal accompaniment to each student, and seeks to maintain close contact with the boys’ families, offering advice and orientation. The university students carried out various projects, including painting buildings and installing water pipes. The students themselves helped seek the financial resources and the materials needed for the project.
On May 24, the graduation ceremony was held for the students from the fifth graduating class of Xabec, a center for professional formation dedicated to providing training in industrial installation and maintenance. A representative from the autonomous government distributed the diplomas and congratulated the 72 students “for their effort and work during these past two years, and for the recognition they were receiving today.” Xabec, a corporate apostolate of Opus Dei, is aimed at fostering the effective incorporation into the work force of young people, the unemployed, and immigrants.
A Corpus Christi procession
On May 17, a Corpus Christi procession was held at the Sabana University. At each of the stations benediction with the Blessed Sacrament was accompanied by the singing of the University choir, making the ceremony an invitation to pray. Both the stations and the entire procession route were richly decorated with flowers. Many students helped out in the decorations. It was a good opportunity to offer God thanks that, just a year after two devastating floods paralyzed the campus, the university was once again able to function normally.
University women, protagonists of their future
Each year hundreds of girls move to the city of Almaty to study in one of its many universities. For some time, the Irtysh Cultural Center has been offering them supplementary formation. In 2011, the “Business Boot Camp” was born, which offers the students the possibility to meet professionals who inform them of the work possibilities that little by little are opening up to them. Speakers include business managers, economists, and specialists in human resources and communication. These session also consider topics such as making work and family compatible, viewing work as service to others, and cultivating broader interests that go beyond the confines of one’s own profession.
Conference in Santillana
On November 23, 2011 the 25th Conference on Communication took place in the Santillana Student Residence. This year the topic considered was “An economic crisis or a moral crisis? Economic information and new models.” More than fifty students took part in the sessions. One of the round tables featured the participation of Iñaki Garay, Associate Publisher of the newspaper Expansión, José Antonio Vega, Assistant Publisher of the newspaper Cinco Dias, and Ignacio Sanchez Camara, professor of Philosophy of Law. Another round table dealt with the question: “Where is the exit from the crisis?” Taking part were Jose Gonzalez-Orbaneja, president of Madrid’s Press Association, Enrique Quemada, Delegate Counselor of a corporate finance company, and Francisco Cabrillo, Professor of Applied Economics at the Complutense University of Madrid.
Benin City, Nigeria
A day of creativity
During this semester, the Tiebe Cultural Center organized a series of seminars for students on artistic creation at the University of Benin. One of the sessions dealt with “a taste for art.” The speaker spoke about the innate gift many people have for artistic expression, although, he stressed, certain artistic skills are learned over time and require practice. The series also included a creativity workshop. This was a full day dedicated to artistic creation, rest periods, and at the end an exposition of the artistic works produced. Each person was asked to present his work with a well-thought-out explanation. As a final contribution a poem entitled “Beauty, the beautiful” was read. It told the story of a philosopher who asked himself about beauty, its source and its meaning. After developing many ideas, the poet ends by praising the Almighty, infinite Beauty, the cause of everything that is beautiful.
Almudi “Theology Dialogues”
For the fourteenth consecutive year, the Almudi Priests’ Library, promoted by priests of Opus Dei, has organized “Theology Dialogues” in conjunction with the Theological School of Valencia. The current edition was held in the auditorium of the Theological School on March 6 and 27 and on April 24, with the title “On the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.” The closing session, entitled “The Word of God in the Life of the Priest: Prayer and Homily,” was given by Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor unum.
In his address, the cardinal encouraged the priests to emphasize “the centrality of Christ” in their homilies, not only with their words, but also with their “tone, expression, joy, simplicity and enthusiasm,” since “the faithful can sense the celebrant’s true love for Christ.” Thus, “it should be clear to the faithful that what interests the preacher is to show forth Christ.”
Conference on movies and philosophy
The school of humanities at the University of Piura dedicated the 12th edition of its philosophy conference to reflecting on the art of the cinema. All cinematographic art transmits a message, employing varying techniques of rhetoric to do so. Professor Genera Castillo discussed aspects of this effort in her analysis of the 2005 movie “Pride and Prejudice.” Also speaking was Professor Alejandro Machacuay, who discussed “The Color of Paradise” (1999). Castillo reflected on personal and family goals in the framework of 18th century English culture, while Machacuay focused on the symbolism of the protagonist, a blind child, in the Iranian movie.
Communicating the faith through persons, faces, and stories
Over 300 people from 44 different countries took part in the Eighth Professional Seminar of Offices of Church Communication. The topic was “Communicating the Faith: Persons, Faces, Stories.” The seminar, organized by the School of Institutional Social Communications at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome, was meant for directors of offices of communication, spokespersons, and other communication professionals. Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, inaugurated the meeting. He said that “in the supermarket of options, typical of today’s culture, it is possible—as Pope Benedict XVI teaches—to transmit a faithful, integral, and at times long-suffering message, knowing that we are not offering a commercial product; we are witnesses to a person, Christ, in the present-day world.”
In preparation for the Year of Faith
As a way of taking up Benedict XVI’s invitation to prepare for the Year of Faith, Creston College, a women’s university residence at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, dedicated its annual Easter seminar to the topic of Apologetics. Most of the participants had been present when Pope Benedict XVI called young people to give witness to their faith during the Mass closing the 2008 World Youth Day at Randwick Racetrack, only a few yards from Creston. The College chaplain encouraged the young women to rediscover (or to discover) the riches, beauty, and legacy of the faith. He pointed to the positive influence of Christianity on culture, including on science, although some question this reality today. Other presentations and round tables dealt with the need to foster unity with other Christians, and possible ways to overcome the dictatorship of relativism and secularism. Many young women made the resolution to reread the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Some of them remarked that they now understood the need to study philosophy, especially metaphysics, to be able to go more deeply into the truths of the faith.
Friendship between Jews and Catholics
The Second Vatican Council marked a milestone in the relations between Jews and Catholics. Dialogue, mutual acquaintance, friendship, the riches of diversity, are some of the central points of the meeting between the Catholic and Jewish worlds held on June 13, in a climate of cordiality, to consider relations between Israel and the Holy See. The gathering, which took place at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, was organized by the Catholic Association of Friends of Israel. Speakers included the Israeli ambassador to the Holy See, Mordechay Lewy; the Bishop of Frosinone-Veroli-Ferentino, Most Rev. Ambrogio Spreafico; Professor Amnon Ramon, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Professor Alberto Melloni, from the John XXIII Foundation for Religious Sciences; and Professor Raymond Cohen, from the University of Jerusalem. Also present were Cardinal Raffaele Farina, archivist and librarian emeritus of the Holy Roman Church, and the chief rabbi of the Jewish Community of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni. The latter expressed his gratitude for the gathering and his desire that “this kind of event be spread among a larger public” and with “a more communitarian participation,” and that “the next one be held in Jerusalem.”
Citalá High School
In January 2012, Citalá High School opened its doors in the city of San Salvador. Citalá means “the place where stars abound” in Maya Chorti, the indigenous language originally spoken in the country. The school will provide secondary education to boys of limited financial resources. It has begun with a group of ninety students in the first year of secondary school. The school will grow each year until it includes all the high school grades. Its activities takes place in the afternoon and evening, and make use of the facilities of Lamatepec High School run by a group of parents, among them faithful of the Opus Dei Prelature. To finance the new school, a Board of Patrons has been set up to seek the necessary funds through donations and the help of private businesses. This will allow the parents to pay only a small tuition. The school has a chaplain and the students are provided with formation in Christian values and personal tutoring in addition to their academic training.
Guaymura University Residence
On February 29, Julieta Castellanos, president of Honduras’s National University (Universidad Nacional Autónoma), gave the 2012 inaugural lecture in the Guaymura University Residence. Under the title “2009-2013: Transformation of the National Autonomous University of Honduras,” she spoke about the growth and improvement of the university, which has received broad praise throughout the country and which the speaker herself has overseen. She also made reference to aspects that are key to any process of change and growth in the various professions. At the end she carried on an extended discussion with the residents and special invited guests.
With students from the Miradores Study Center
From February 18 to 22, a group of 58 university students from the Miradores Study Center carried out a social project in the Pirarajá area, a poor region in the interior of the country. The goal of this social initiative was both to provide help to those in need and to foster in the university students a sense of social responsibility that will influence the future exercise of their profession. The work carried out involved repairs and painting in three different sites: the public health clinic, a chapel, and a family home. The students were able to count on the financial help of businesses and individuals in this project. The young people were especially grateful for the warm gesture from the people living in Pirarajá, who provided the group with food as a token of gratitude for the work that was being done.
Tenth anniversary of the Laguna Hospice
The Laguna Palliative Care Center has now spent a decade striving to reduce suffering. To commemorate this anniversary, the Vianorte-Laguna Foundation organized a ceremony to express gratitude for the help received over this period. The president of the foundation and the director general of Laguna recalled the support of all the collaborating entities and emphasized especially the help of the Acciona company in the construction of the present hospital building, as well as the generous initiative of the Fernando Duran Auction House, which in honor of the tenth anniversary sponsored a Solidarity Auction entitled “A Role for Remembrance.” The benefits were earmarked entirely for the treatment and care of people with Alzheimers and advanced illnesses. Thirty-three well-known contemporary artists, including Antonio López, Rafael Canogar, Martin Chirino and Pello Irazu, each created a unique and original work—a painting, photograph, or sketch—especially for this charity auction.
Youth tackling a crisis
The Kàthane Cultural Center in Catania began in 1982, promoted by some members of Opus Dei with the help of other people. A group of women students and professionals between the ages of 18 and 30 have just begun a volunteer initiative to respond to the crisis faced by families in today’s society. This association for family solidarity, called Quid familia, is organized by young women from various universities and receives the support of the social assistance services.
In order to respond to the difficulties of mothers who need to reconcile a job and their family, Quid familia offers day care facilities, looked after by some of the mothers. It also offers extra-curricular educational activities, and help to resolve painful matrimonial crises. Another need it seeks to meet is that of the elderly, by providing assistance to the residents of the Msgr. Santo Bellia Rest Home in Catania. In addition, the new association offers courses of training in social assistance. The one on February 17, for example, dealt with the topic of altruism and empathy in providing assistance to others. Along with its cultural and social activities, the center also offers many opportunities to grow in one’s Christian formation.
With the support of the “Brazilian Institute for the Family,” a family activity entitled Folia em familia [family festival] was organized, offering formation, multi-family gatherings, and entertainment for the children. The event took place in the Chácara Florida, on the outskirts of Brazilia. The program included various talks for families on marriage and on raising children in the practice of the virtues. The case method was used with the involvement of all the participants. More than 100 people attended, between children and adults. After each session, the parents had time to exchange experiences on their children and about their own marriages.
New oratory in the Kinal Technical School
On March 28, the Vicar of the Prelature of Opus Dei in Guatemala, Msgr. Francis Wurmser Ordóñez, presided over the blessing of the oratory for the high school building of the Kinal Technical School, a corporative apostolate of Opus Dei. Kinal offers needy young boys the opportunity to obtain a good secondary education, strengthened with Christian values. The construction of the new oratory was begun in connection with the fiftieth anniversary of the school, celebrated in 2011.
Information, ethics, and society
Following last year’s session held in Guadalajara, Mexico, the International Congress of Information Ethics and Law returned to Valencia to celebrate its ninth annual session on November 11-12, 2011, with the title “The ethical and social responsibility of information enterprises.” It was organized by the COSO Foundation together with various Spanish and Latin American universities. In attendance were 54 university professors specializing in the ethics and law of information. The Congress took place in the Valencian Museum of Illustration and Modernity.
Romana, n. 54, January-June 2012, p. 141-152.