Living La Dolce Vita as a Lay Student in Rome Print
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 12 March 2010 09:05
If you have ever considered studying in Rome or just living or spending time in Rome, check out this wonderful resource, Lay Students in Rome.

It is a wonderful collection of the best resources to help you negotiate the sweet, sour, and peculiar realities of life in Rome:   transportation, the incredible Italian bureaucracy, funding la dolce vita, finding the last Mass on any given day in the Urbe, etc.  The website is the work of Maria Colonna, an American who has studied in Rome since 2004 and really knows the ropes!

If you are still at the dreaming stage or seriously planning, start here.

The other hub for lay students in Rome is the Lay Centre, founded by American Donna Orsuto, in 1984.  Here lay students can live and experience Christian community - a surprising but real issue in a heavily clerical and religious town.  Lay students, without the backing of a diocese or religious community, have to make their own way there.

We got to visit the Lay Centre briefly back in 2000 and meet Donna Orsuto.  She introduced me to the wonders of lemoncello.

If you'd just like to dip your toe into The City, the Lay Centre is offering some really interesting week long seminars this summer (2010) which are inexpensive and can be taken for graduate credit:

Praying With the Saints in Rome
Towards Co-Responsibility of Priests and Laity: Wisdom from the Past, Hope for the Future

The last seminar is particularly interesting to me.  As the blurb reads:

“To what extent is the pastoral co-responsibility of all, and particularly of the laity, recognized and encouraged? In past centuries, thanks to the generous witness of all the baptized who spent their life educating the new generations in the faith, healing the sick and going to the aid of the poor, the Christian community proclaimed the Gospel to the inhabitants of Rome. The self-same mission is entrusted to us today, in different situations, in a city in which many of the baptized have strayed from the path of the Church and those who are Christian are unacquainted with beauty of our faith. . . .”

In this year dedicated to the priesthood, it seems appropriate to reflect on the treasures of our tradition which speak to the ways that co-responsibility has been promoted in the past while recognizing, in the words of  Benedict XVI, that “[t]here is still a long way to go. Too many of the baptized do not feel part of the ecclesial community and live on its margins, only coming to parishes in certain circumstances to receive religious services. Compared to the number of inhabitants in each parish, the lay people who are ready to work in the various apostolic fields, although they profess to be Catholic, are still few and far between.”


Using Rome as a classroom, this program will offer an historical and theological survey of how laity and ordained have promoted the communion and mission of the Church.

Some key historical figures to be included in the program are St. Paul and his co-workers, St. Justin Martyr, St. Lawrence,  St. Gregory the Great, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Frances of Rome, St. Vincent Pallotti and John Henry Newman.

Special attention will be given to the ways co-responsibility is lived today by focusing on some specific examples: the Sant’Egidio Community and other new lay ecclesial movements.


Ah, Rome as a classroom!  What a incredible place - in purely human as well as spiritual terms.  I can't make it this year but if you do, be sure and let me know what it was like.