Pro-life march in Berlin

This past weekend, 3 vans full of ITI students and a couple of staff members headed to Berlin for the “Marsche fur das Leben (March for Life).”

ITI students join other youth marchers at a short pro-life conference after Berlin’s 2012 March for life

After a full day of driving, they were heartily welcomed in the city by Berlin’s Youth for Life, and made their home for the weekend in one of the nicest European hostels anyone here has yet seen in their travels.

After Saturday morning’s generous hostel breakfast, the students attended the opening speeches for a new pro-life research library in Berlin, after which they proceeded to the Office of the Federal Chancellor for an opening rally with entertainment and testimonies. From there, the marchers, armed with pro-life signs and silent prayer, walked 1.5km in the cold, windy Berlin weather to St. Hedgwig’s Cathedral, where the event concluded with a prayer service followed by refreshments outside of the church.

2 ITI students walk peacefully with signs through the streets of Berlin at the city’s 2012 March for Life

The modest police estimate of the marchers this year was 3,000 compared to last year’s 2,000 (although we think this year’s numbers felt higher than the estimate).  There were also enough protesters of the March—maybe 100 or so—to bring notable tension, but these were greatly outweighed by the marchers, who kept a remarkable calm (some of the protesters even commented to themselves, on joining the main group for a few moments, that it was “less stressful” with the marchers than the protesters!).  The event was kept peaceful and safe by the excellent Berlin police force.

Along with the opportunity to take part in Europe’s expanding pro-life movement, the students were blessed with the chance to get to know both Youth for Life members and each other—including at a wonderful sponsored Russian lunch on Sunday after Mass—forging memories that will last for years, and a hope for connecting again in the future.  Although it proved a difficult sacrifice for many of the students (many were studying for their Monday classes en route!), it has certainly been an occasion of grace for all involved.

Thank you especially to Youth for Life Berlin for hosting us and to our two generous sponsors who helped lower the cost of the trip by donating the rental cost of 2 large vans!

ITI adventures–recent and upcoming

Heads up: watch for blog updates coming next week about ITI student adventures!

One of these is the now-yearly tradition of a 7-hour hike to the nearby  11th-century Cistercian monastery and home of a relic of the True Cross of Christ, which a large portion of the student body and staff undertook on September 9th.  Another coming-soon update is about the ITI trip taken this last weekend into the centre of Europe’s cultural capital, the lovely Vienna (and, for many new students, this was the first trip in!) for a Mass with Cardinal Christoph Schönborn honouring Our Lady.

Also, this coming weekend, 20+ students from the ITI will load into 3 vans to drive 7 hours to and from Berlin for the Pro-Life March on Saturday. Involvement in Europe’s pro-life  movement has been a part of ITI life throughout its existence, and has proven a fruitful experience for many ITI students.

There is always much going on at the ITI to both nourish the community life and offer opportunities for the deepening of our Catholic identity. Check back over the next week to read and see more!

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The ITI choir commences another year of praise

On Saturday, the ITI choir met officially for the first time of the 2012-13 academic year to test voices, learn a Taize hymn, and get to know each other—obviously, in ITI style, over a few snacks.  With a whopping 21-member start, and the group already coming together well, the year looks promising.

Directed by one of our seminarians and co-organized by another student, the choir serves as an enjoyable break from the heavy rhythm of studies at the ITI.  It also offers a beautiful opportunity to share gifts of music as a means of aiding in the beauty of the Liturgy at the common Thursday Masses, as well as on special feast days, like the upcoming celebration of the Little Flower, St. Therese de Lisieux, on October 1st. These liturgies are offered as the high point of the community and spiritual life at the ITI, and thus the choir plays an important role in accomplishing the unity of purpose and prayerful life for which we strive as an institute.

The ITI choir sings Palestrina’s Sicut cervus at the 2012 graduation ceremony

Last year, although starting from scratch with members having varied musical experience, and having limited rehearsal time due to the busy student schedule, the choir was able to successfully present both movements of Palestrina’s Sicut cervus at the 2012 graduation ceremonies in June.  This song is a treasured favourite at the ITI, as its Latin lyrics are the words from the psalm which the ITI has had as its motto since its inception: “As the deer longs for running streams, so my soul thirsts, for you, O God..” (Psalm 42 [41]).

We are looking forward to another year to offer thanksgiving and sing praise to the Lord, for all He has done and continues to do through the ITI.

Never heard Palestrina’s exquisite piece?  Here’s a beautiful recording of it for you:


The Irish, St. Thomas and St. Thérèse

Over the summer, ITI Professor William Newton and a few graduates got together with others to start the first Aquinas Institute of Ireland Summer School.  Here is the Zenit article about it and the Institute’s webpage .

In other news, you can now download or listen to the talk that ITI Rector Msgr. Larry Hogan gave on the “real” St. Thérèse at the ITI’s Studientag or Opening Day on September 3rd.  Look in the Spotlight section of the ITI homepage or link directly to it here .

Many Happy Years

Dressed for the occasion, students and faculty met at Monday’s Studientag to unite once again in the ITI’s unique principles and pillars and reflect on the nature of studies at this little institute in the Viennese countryside.

Two students talk to a professor during the Studientag coffee break

While the day was full of lecture and discussion, in line with the academic focus of the institute–including various topics from academic orientation to the role of Judaism in Christian Theology to the unique sainthood of the ITI’s special patroness, St. Thérèse de Lisieux–it was not without its characteristic laughter and quintessential mirth.  Especially during the breaks and in the evening dinner following the common celebration of Holy Mass at the parish church, an evident sense of community and joy permeated the conversations of students and staff, old and new alike.

The ITI community also heartily celebrated the re-institution of Msgr. Prof. Dr. Larry Hogan as continuing rector with the singing of the Slavic hymn of well-wishes, Mnohaya Lita (“Many happy years…!”) Congratulations were also given in celebration of two new student engagements, along with a birthday, as the ITI’s small and tight-knit way of life allows for a true Christian sharing of joys and sorrows.

Please keep all students and staff in your prayers as we move forward to our primary duty—studying and teaching for the sake of coming to know Our Lord more deeply, for the benefit of the worldwide Church.   May we all embrace our calling to steadiness of purpose, as well as find many ongoing opportunities for joy, laughter, prayer, and needed rest amidst the demands of academic life.