"You are living a period in which you should prepare for the big decisions of your life, in the service of the Church and society. Here today, you can see that you are not alone: You are with your teachers, chaplains, residence managers. And you are with the Pope!”
To actually enroll in a pontifical university isn't easy or cheap. It's often challenging for bishops to gather enough tuition money for priests, seminarians, religious and lay people to attend these schools. It's estimated that tuition and living expenses costs an average of at least $16,000 a year.
So, to help out, there are foundations that offset the price tag of religious studies, so that the future protagonists of the Church can have a complete formation in Rome.
LUIS ALBERTO ROSALES
"We insist that these people from 114 countries study in Rome, because Rome is the See of Peter. So here they are close to the Pope, at the very heart of Christianity. You could even argue there is an osmosis effect. It's very very different.”
Spaniard Luis Alberto Rosales is the director of CARF, which translates to the Academic Roman Center Foundation. Every year, it grants about 400 scholarships so that priests, seminarians, nuns, religious and lay people with few resources, can study at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.
To make it happen, it collects donations from about 10,000 people. Some of them even leave their inheritance or family trusts to sponsor these students.
LUIS ALBERTO ROSALES
"What these donors want are priests who are ready for the 21st century, so modern people, young people, who can relate with today's society. At the same time, they have to be firm, follow the doctrine and be close to the Pope, so they can transmit this message to others.”
Once the donation is given, donors are still kept up to date. In addition to getting thank you letters, donors also see the grades the scholarship recipients are getting.
The best results are seen at the end, when the students finish their studies and go back home. It's then that priests, religious and the laity become even more efficient in transmitting the faith and in improving society...It's exactly that, that makes this a true long term investment.