Catholic Free Press

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  • Mar
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Assumption College to offer program in Rome

Posted By March 22, 2012 | 1:10 pm | Lead Story #1, Local
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By Tanya Connor

An Assumption College program to begin in Rome next spring will introduce students to the classic liberal arts tradition, the Catholic Church and the Augustinians of the Assumption.
That’s the significance of the program, which will be housed on the Assumptionists’ property in Rome and have a component in Florence, where students will also stay with Assumptionists, Francesco Cesareo, the college’s president, told The Catholic Free Press yesterday.
He and Father Benoit Griere, the Assumptionists’ superior general, signed a memorandum of understanding March 7 while the president was in Rome with students in his history of Rome class. Attending the signing at the Assumptionist General House were the students; members of the college’s faculty and staff and Assumptionist Father Dinh G. Vo Tran, a campus minister, and Assumptionists in Rome.
“This decision is a natural outgrowth of the decisions that the Assumptionists worldwide took at last year’s general chapter,” said Assumptionist Father John L. Franck, who was elected an assistant general then and attended the March 7 signing. Father Franck had formerly lived at Assumption College and been vice chairman of its board of trustees and vocation director for the Assumptionists in the United States.
“We designated Assumption College as one of the major works of the congregation that we wanted to support,” Father Franck said of a chapter decision. “We made a commitment to reach out to the world of the young … to understand them better and to propose the Gospel message to them.”
The Rome program is to begin in the spring of 2013. Francis Lazarus, the college’s provost, who set it up, said it will offer Assumption students, and others if space allows, a semester of five courses involving on-site lectures throughout Rome and limited travel elsewhere.
The plan is to accept about 20 students initially, and cover all but their airplane fare with the same tuition, room, board and charges for books that they would pay if at Assumption that semester, Mr. Lazarus said.
He said the same five courses will probably be offered for the first couple of semesters. At any one time, three professors from Assumption and two from Italy will teach courses.
“By studying in Rome, which is the heart of Western Civilization, our students are going to be immersed in the best of the classic liberal arts tradition through the works they will study, through the use of the city as a living classroom,” President Cesareo said.
He said they will also be introduced to the Church, its history and the role of the papacy.
“Our hope is that … our students will deepen their spirituality and their faith formation and therefore grow in their commitment to the Church,” he said.
The program will also enable them to interact with Assumptionists from around the world and learn about their apostolates, charism and founder, he said.
Assumptionist Father Richard Lamoureux, who proposed the Rome program a few years ago when he was superior general, said it will enable the Assumptionists to better use their well-located, well-equipped 10-acre property for apostolic purposes.
Father Lamoureux is now director of worship for campus ministry at the college, and director of vocation ministry and formation for the Assumptionists’ North American-Philippines Province.
Father Lamoureux said that a few years ago the Assumptionists were thinking about how to make the best use of their property in Rome – about 10 acres with a General House, a convent for the Oblates of the Assumption (a sister congregation which cooks for them), and a building which housed visiting Assumptionists and archives.
He told the Assumptionists’ general council he headed that the college sent students abroad to other schools’ programs because it couldn’t afford its own. It did, however, run its own program in rented space in Florence for a few years in the early 2000s. He wondered if the college would be interested in using the Assumptionists’ space, allowing the order to generate income and giving them the opportunity to work with students.
Discussions and negotiations followed, leading to his successor and the president signing the agreement.