After a summer attempting to survive the Roman heat on my own, with the generosity of friends and colleagues allowing me to housesit in lieu of rent, I moved back into the Lay Centre in early September. Our first guest dinner was a typical Lay Centre affair, in that guests included the following:
- Mary McAleese, Former President of Ireland, and former Lay Centre resident
- Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, recently retired Apostolic Nuncio to Egypt, and one of the Church’s leading experts on Islam and Interreligious Dialogue
- Lithuanian Ambassador to the Holy See Irina Vaišvilaitė, another former resident of the Lay Centre.
Archbishop Fitzgerald updated us on the process for the election of the Coptic pope, which was still ongoing. Involving laity, clergy, and religious, the original field of nominations was 17, bishops and monks, which was whittled down to 5, and then three whose names were submitted to be selected by a blindfolded altar boy. A great deal of consultation and lay involvement went into the decision making fo who those names would be, yet room was left in the process for divine guidance, in the form of the blind innocence of a child.
Ambassador Vaišvilaitė shared her experience of presenting her credentials to the Holy Father at Castel Gandolfo, in an unusual individual meeting and conversation at the summer retreat.
President McAleese is returning to Rome to finish her doctorate in canon law, and now at the Irish College, which is practically bereft of new Irish seminarians after the much contested Dolan Report earlier this year.
In other words, just another evening at the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas!