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Rome Reports

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Classes resume Oct. 5 for pontifical university students in Rome

This was the deserted scene in the classrooms of the pontifical universities during lockdown in Rome. It was the same for academic institutions around the world.

The universities where most of the next priests are trained have started their activities this Oct. 5.

However, there are some measures already in place that remain: distancing, hand sanitizer and face masks. Before the start of classes, various pontifical universities have had to figure out how to organize.

Rector, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
“We will begin by holding all classes in person. Then we'll see what happens. Our problem though, is the same for all pontifical universities: we don't know how many students will attend the first days of class. There might be 30 enrolled, but we don't know if 15 or 28 will show up. So our responses will vary.”

One of the big challenges to kicking off the “new normal” is that some students haven't been able to arrive in Rome due to their own countries' travel restrictions.

Rector, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
“Every classroom is equipped with computers, cameras and even special software so students can follow the lessons via streaming, especially if they're in time zones that are very far from European ones.”

The new academic year will start as usual, with an inauguration Mass, also known as the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

Mexican Seminarian in Rome
“I think that during the Mass for the inauguration of the academic year, a special intention will be to ask for the protection of those of us who will continue our studies, despite everything that's going on. Confident and responsible, we will also respect the measures the university recommends.”

Many of these students spent quarantine far away from home, in their colleges, residences and seminaries in Rome.

Venezuelan Seminarian in Rome
“It's really quite the battle. We know we have to respect safety measures: masks, washing your hands constantly, maintaining interpersonal distances. However, I think we're kicking off the year very optimistically. We don't want to stop. We want to keep moving forward and say that, despite the circumstances, we can continue.”

Despite the challenges, these men remain optimistic and continue their studies to eventually return to their countries carrying a light through all the darkness.

Daniel Díaz Vizzi

Translation: CT