Women’s retreat in Gaming

On the weekend of March 8-10th, 25 women from the ITI, single as well as married, attended a silent retreat in Gaming, Austria, in the town’s exquisite 13th-century Carthusian monastery.  This town, as well as the Kartause specifically, is special for ITI students as it is the place one of our chaplains, Fr. Juraj Terek, refers to as the ITI’s “nest,” due to the fact that it was the fledgling institute’s first home before moving to its current and permanent home just outside of Vienna.

The retreat was led by Sr. Monica, a Franciscan religious sister who currently lives in Gaming ministering to the needs of the Franciscan University of Steubenville students during their

The participants in the ITI Lenten women's retreat pose in front of the Kartause in Gaming, Austria
The participants in the ITI Lenten women’s retreat pose in front of the Kartause in Gaming, Austria

semester abroad program.  Focusing on intimacy with Christ, Sr. Monica offered beautiful workshops on developing a deeper understanding of Jesus in the role of husband and, with this understanding, a deeper relationship with him.  In addition, she provided lectio divina reflections for individual private prayer, based in the Song of Songs, which many women used during their time of silent Adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

Although short, the retreat offered an important time away from the bustle of daily life as students, as well as an opportunity to bond with the other women at the ITI, particularly when coming together for a joyful common brunch after 2 days together in silence.  It’s amazing how close a community can be brought together through silence and individual closeness with Christ, as many of the ITI women experienced on the retreat!

We hope to see this opportunity for stillness and this special reception of grace become a regular occurrence for the ladies at the ITI.  Special thanks for the ITI’s sponsorship of this beautiful weekend!

ITI celebrates the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas

As a main patron of the ITI and patron of all Catholic universities, as well as the main source of content for study in the STM program, St. Thomas Aquinas holds a high place of honour at the Institute.

Students and staff begin the evening's celebrations with an agape in Moses Hall
Students and staff begin the evening’s celebrations with an agape in Moses Hall

For a number of reasons, it is better suited for the ITI community to celebrate his feast day according to the late liturgical calendar—thus, the students, staff, faculty, and administration gathered together on March 7th to commemorate this great saint, theologian, and doctor of the Church.

Mass in his honour took place earlier on in the day, with choral music sung by ITI students to accent the occasion.  Later on, after the afternoon classes, the ITI

ITI students and staff listen to violinist Tudor Andrei in Sts. Cyril and Methodius Hall
ITI students and staff listen to violinist Tudor Andrei in Sts. Cyril and Methodius Hall

community came together for an agape at the Schloss, followed by a concert in Sts. Cyril & Methodius classroom and lecture hall.

The beautiful performance featured two esteemed Romanian musicians, currently living in Vienna—Tudor Andrei, who has travelled internationally as a violinist, and Aurelia Vișovan, a pianist who recently played in the Philharmonia hall (Großer Saal) in Berlin.

ITI Rector Msgr. Dr. Larry Hogan warmly thanks musicians Tudor Andrei and Aurelia Vișovan for their performance on the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

As usual, the occasion was one of joy and celebration, complementing the busy daily life of demanding study at the ITI.

We are so thankful for St. Thomas’s gift of intelligence, and for his humble diligence and holiness so many centuries ago, as well as his ongoing companionship and presence with us through the communion of saints—and for the fruit his work is bearing in our studies here at the ITI!  St. Thomas Aquinas, ora pro nobis.

Habemus papam! We have a pope!

At a little after 7pm Austrian time, excited cheers abounded at the residence buildings at the ITI, after white smoke poured from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel announcing that the conclave had decided on a new pope.

ITI students, faculty, family and friends gathered in great anticipation to watch the projected live streaming of the announcement of our new Holy Father. Nearly the entire campus crammed into the St. Therese Common Room and joyfully received the news that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, taking the name Pope Francis, would be the successor to Pope Benedict XVI and the Chair of St. Peter.
It is a beautiful time here as we look toward the coming time with our new and already beloved Holy Father!

Single men’s retreat in Slovakia for ITI students

The valley by the monastery where some of the ITI’s single men recently went on a weekend retreat (Photo from Marianka website)

This past weekend, a group of the single male students from the ITI attended a school-sponsored retreat at the Marianka monastery in the picturesque Slovakian countryside. According to the Marianka website, the monastery with its grounds is in “a calm green valley spoken about in legends and visited by kings.  For some [the monastery location] is a dreamt of place to live away from city noise; for others it is the ideal location of a Sunday walk around the magical forest stream.”  Thus, it was also ideal for the spiritual refreshment of the single men at the ITI during the season of Lent and in preparation for the coming joy of Easter.

The interior of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Church at Marianka (Photo from Marianka website)

Although it was simply a quick weekend away, the retreat offered an opportunity for reflection and calm, as well as focused prayer.  The students were graciously assisted by two beautiful and inspiring talks offered by his Most Reverend Excellency Peter Rusnák, the Byzantine Catholic bishop of Bratislava, with a focus on the importance of considering one’s vocation in the presence of Christ.

Seeing the fruitfulness of this retreat, it is a hope in the hearts and minds of the ITI community to have this be a regular occurrence.  Although many students go on retreat independently throughout the semester, it is a particularly beautiful thing to enter into a deeper spirit of prayer in the context of one’s own community and home-away-from-home while pursuing educational goals.

For more information about Marianka, as well as more pictures of the grounds, please visit http://www.marianka.sk.

Adopt a Cardinal

Last night special masses of Thanksgiving were said for Pope Benedict XVI.  Now we are in the time of sede vacanti. But what a beautiful way to enter this period – with thanksgiving for what we have had in a Holy Father and with prayers for the future Pope.  I don’t know how it was announced in different parishes, dioceses or countries, but here the bells in all the churches were rung at 8pm.  We said the rosary here and the bells rang the whole time.

Many of us here have gone to this website www.adoptacardinal.org  – a wonderful initiative – and “adopted” a Cardinal.  The idea is to pray for “your” Cardinal so that he is guided by the Holy Spirit in a special way during the Conclave.  Adopt a Cardinal today!