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!

(Haven’t gotten the chance yet to follow us yet?  We’d love to have you join us in this way so  we can keep you updated!  And you don’t even need a blog or wordpress account– just click on the “+Follow” option in the right-hand corner, and enter your e-mail.)

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.

Movies and the Properties of the Resurrected Body

Watching a movie is never a simple thing at the ITI.  First, you have the differences in native languages…so subtitles are a must.  Second, you have the problem of different senses of humor according to cultures.  Some jokes just don’t translate.  Third, you have to face the problems of likes and dislikes.  Fourth, people have different sensitivities.  It is a wonder we watch movies at all.

Despite all these differences there is one thing you can count on…discussion of the movie.

These are not normal discussions either.  For instance, a simple viewing of this Superman scene erupted in a discussion of the properties of the resurrected body.


How many can you name?

Nostalgic for a Class from Pater Rupert Mayer at ITI? Read below

Homily 3 May 2012
Mass Readings
1 Corinthians 15:1-8, Psalm 19:2-5, John 14:6-14

John describes Philip and Andrew as those apostles who bring the people to Jesus, together with all their questions and needs. In this sense, the apostles intercede and pray for us. Jesus said to them about prayer: “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Some of you might say: “I have asked God so many times and did not receive anything. Therefore, Jesus did not say the truth.” When we are confronted with such a difficulty in our faith, the question is: Did we understand the Lord’s words in the right way? We have to understand what it means “to ask in the name of Jesus”.

John writes about this in his first letter: “we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us, and if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours.” Thus, to ask in the Lord’s name is to ask him according to his will. No human being may try to change the unchangeable will of God. But we may discern what is God’s will from that which is not God’s will. In the event we come to know God’s will, we have to pray fervently that His will be done. We should ever have great confidence that what we ask in this way is already ours. Though God’s will is unchangeable, He has decided from all eternity to give great spiritual gifts to us. If we ask Him, He will provide for the necessary things of our life.  Thus, God wants to enter into a conversation with us from all eternity and we should try to understand what He wants to say to us.

But there is a human attitude that might prevent us from getting into this conversation with God. Many people are not interested in God’s will because they want to have their own will. Every day they pray “Thy will be done” and hope that it will not be done. This is a tremendous lack of faith, an attitude that never enters into a conversation with God and overlooks His providence. These people lack the taste for divine and spiritual gifts because they think only about this world and the things of this world which they want to have. They do not know about God’s gifts and if they knew, they would nevertheless despise them.

If we know this, how should we pray?

At first we should enter into the presence of the Most High whose power is infinite, then we should try to desire what is His will and ask Him with great confidence that His will be done . In many cases, when we do not know what God’s will is, then we have to look at reality as the sign of God’s will. Thus, if our prayers are not heard, this is a sign that it was not God’s will to give us what we asked for. Even in this case you did not ask for something in vain. For you entered into a conversation with your heavenly Father and He told you that you have to change your will in order to live in conformity with His will. Thus you would trust His providence. He governs the world in such a way that everything works for the glory of God.

The more you conform to His will, the more you want what He wants in His eternal love, the holier you will become, and the more you will understand what your heavenly Father says to you.

So let us pray that God’s will be done. This is better for us than anything else we might ask. Amen.

Way of the Cross

Dr. Gotia and the Restored Crucifix

There are lots of little Wayside Shrines dotting the Autrian landscape.  They are a lovely reminder to stop and pray.  Dr. Andrei Gotia would pass one such shrine in Trumau regularly on the way to the parish Mass.  He noticed that the crucifix was looking a little shabby after who knows how many years of weathering every storm.

Restoring the Crucifix in its Original Position

Dr. Gotia does a little wood-working in addition to his Latin and Greek professorship at the ITI and so he decided to do his part to help the town of Trumau and clean the crucifix.  He got the necessary permissions, took the crucifix down and began the loving process of making it new again.

The crucifix is now back in its original position, newly cleaned and stained to withstand hundreds more years of wind and weather.  Dr. Gotia also made a new “INRI”  sign to replace the one which had gotten lost over the years.

The Wayside Shrine with the Restored Crucifix

Little things mean a lot.  Now those who pass by can greet Our Lord anew.

“The Mystery of Christmas Reveals the Mystery of Man” – Retreat in Vienna


Parishioners thank to Fr. Yosyp Veresh for the retreat

From the 8th to the 10th of December 2011, Fr. Yosyp Veresh, the Director of the Centre of Eastern Christian Studies (ECS), gave a retreat at the Greek-Catholic Parish of St. Barbara in Vienna with the theme: “The Mystery of Christmas Reveals the Mystery of Man.” The retreat started on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (the Conception by St. Anne of the Most Holy Theotokos). During these three days of prayer and meditation, participants of the retreat considered the various aspects of the theme with these questions: Who am I and what is my state today? How can I harmonize my relationships and what kind of healing do I need? What is the will of God for me now and how shall I realize it in my Christian life?

Divine Liturgy in St. Barbara in Vienna

The faithful had the opportunity to participate in the celebration of Divine Liturgies, prayer services and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The youth organization took part in a special meeting and a lively discussion ensued over questions of particular importance to young people. The retreat concluded with a Pontifical Liturgy on Sunday, the 11th of December.

Bishop Bohdan Dzurach

Bishop Bohdan Dzurach of Kyiv, Ukraine presided.

One of the missions of the ECS is to organize retreats and thus to contribute to the spiritual growth of different Christian communities and of individuals. It was a wonderful time to experience the grace of the Holy Spirit at work during this spiritual retreat!

Children of the parish of St. Barbara in Vienna

Keeping the Spirit of the November Papal Intention

ECS celebrates the Divine Liturgy in Vienna at Sts Cyril and Methodius Parish







“That the Eastern Catholic Churches and their venerable traditions may be known and esteemed as a spiritual treasure for the whole Church.” 

13 Nov 2011 – ITI graduate Deacon Joseph Bolin invited the ITI Center of Eastern Christian Studies (ECS) to celebrate Divine Liturgy (Byzantine Rite Mass) at the parish he serves in Vienna, Sts. Cyril and Methodius. 

Deacon Joseph proclaims the Gospel during the Liturgy

Deacon Joseph’s idea to invite the ECS coincided perfectly with the Pope’s intention for the month of November.  

Time stops and we experience Heaven on earth

Father Joseph Veresh, ECS Director, gave an introduction about the Divine Liturgy and explained that during and through the celebration, time stops and we experience Heaven on earth.  The Liturgy was enthusiastically attended by 300 parishioners – most of whom were seeing a Byzantine Liturgy for the first time in their lives. 

Many of the parishioners had never experienced the Byzantine rite before

ITI Meets Patriarch of Syrian Catholic Churches

His Beatitude Patriarch Igatius Youssif III with ITI representatives of ECS

10 Nov 2011 – The ITI Center of Eastern Christiaan Studies (ECS) went to a lecture in Vienna given by His Beatitude Patriarch Igatius Youssif III, the Patriarch of the Syrian Catholic Churches.  The lecture was organized by Pro Oriente and was part of a special synod for the Bishops of the Middle East.

 His Beatitude spoke of the suffering of his people in theMiddle East. 

His Beatitude speaks of the suffering of Christians in the Middle East

He said that their main task is to give witness to the Gospel…to spread the Good News, but how can they do this, when their very presence is against the law?  He wanted to send a wake up call to the EU and UN about their suffering.  He said he finds it hard to encourage his own faithful to return, or to remain in the face of violent attacks.  It is one thing to decide to remain and sacrifice yourself.  It is quite another thing to demand this same sacrifice of your children.

ECS representatives speak with the Patriarch of the Syrian Catholic Churches

After the lecture, the ITI was presented to His Beatitude and was able to visit with him and the other bishops and representatives who were present from the Middle East and India.  This event helped us to deepen our understanding of the situation of the Christians in the Middle East.  Since some of our students belong to the Syrian Catholic Churches, it was a great gift to be able to meet His Beatitude in person and to build up relationships with these representatives in the hope of future collaboration. 

ECS representatives visit with a Syrian Orthodox Bishop after the lecture