Opening of the Academic Year (2020-21) of the Alphonsian Academy, Rome

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The solemn opening of the Academic Year took place on Monday 12 October 2020 at the Alphonsian Academy in Rome.

The Academic community gathered at the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help to entrust the Lord with the new year of studies with the celebration of Holy Mass, presided over by Father Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R., Moderator General of the Academy. Father Brehl in his homily, emphasized the relation between the biblical readings and the recent encyclical of Pope Francis, “Fratelli Tutti.” Cain’s question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” and the question of the lawyer: “who is my neighbor?” They find the fullest answer in Jesus, the Son of God. You are your brother’s keeper, God answers man, and all the vulnerable are your neighbor,” stressed the superior general of the Redemptorists. God asks us not only for a personal answer to these serious questions, but also for a collective one. Just as the Inn-keeper continues the work of the Samaritan, so companies take care of others, especially the wounded. This dream of fraternity and care animates the whole Church and becomes reality in the missionary outreach. We too, as the Alphonsian Academy, learn to dream the dream of God, a dream of proximity and universal brotherhood,” Father Brehl said. At the end of the celebration, the Dean, Fr. Alfonso Vincenzo Amarante, C.Ss.R., thanked all the participants and invited guests esp., Fr Mauro Mantovani, Rector of the Salesian Pontifical University and president of CRUIPRO, Fr Agustín Hernández Vidales, OFM, Rector of the Antonianum, and Fr Gianni Congiu, Rector of the Redemptorist community of Via Merulana, 31. The principal then recalled those who, among students, teachers, staff and their families, God has called to Himself in these months.

The second moment of the event took place in the adjacent main hall of the Alphonsian Academy, where prof. Andrjew Wodka, C.Ss.r, the President of AVEPRO, gave the lecture entitled: “Morality as proximity: resources, culture and quality”. In our current context, quality risks being supplanted by appearance. The professor Wodka proposed to base quality from a theological point of view, against its mere quantification. The Johannine theology shows the quality of love appearing in the darkness of annulment and St. Paul in 2 Cor. 12:9 formulates the principle of non-transitory quality: “My grace is sufficient for you; my power in fact manifests itself in weakness.” The dean, emeritus of the Academy then explained the four criteria of education of Veritatis  Gaudium: return to the kerygma, Christian identity, quality and common good. Pope Francis with the global educational pact that he will stipulate on October 15, reminds us of the culture of proximity, which he conceives as a real spirituality, a mysticism. The university is a privileged place to renew the world, making dialogue and encounter a source of growth. In this sense, the culture of encounter points towards solidarity. In addition to the objective parameters for measuring quality used by university centers, it is necessary to cultivate its invisible dimension, the soul of quality, which consists in solidarity and ecclesiality.

At the end of the address, Dean Alfonso V. Amarante gave the report for the academic year 2019-2020. After presenting the numbers of the Academy, Prof. Amarante stressed the importance of the method used in moral theology: starting from man to meet God. These very hard months have allowed us to have a very strong community experience: “we have found ourselves more as an academic family.” The challenge of the coronavirus found us ready, says the dean again: even before the indications from the Congregation and the PUL, the Academy was ready to leave. The Dean concluded his report by emphasizing the ecclesiological value of quality: a community that walks together.

The official act of inauguration of the Academic Year was performed by the Major Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, Prof. Vincenzo Buonomo, who highlighted the unique and irreplaceable character of the Roman universities, consisting of internationality and Romanism. Just the presence in Rome manifests in the full sense of the Catholicity. The rector emphasized the special incorporation of the Alphonsian Academy within the Lateran University. The Academy is endowed with a “historical autonomy that must be guaranteed, privileging its specific mission.

With the rite of the ringing of the bell, the Academic Year 2020-2021 officially began. We wish all the very best to the students, the teachers and the staff.

Claudio Baldini

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