An Easter Note from the Director of the JFRC
Dear JFRC alumni, friends, and colleagues,
During this season of Passover and Easter, we are reminded that suffering and sadness do not have the final say but lead to the joy of resurrection and new life. Here in Italy and in many parts of the EU, we remain in lockdown as the pandemic continues to spread. Little could we have imagined the impact of Covid-19 on our lives back in February 2020, when members of the JFRC last gathered as a community before repatriating students. Today, the Rome Center remains closed except for essential work, as per Italian law and LUC policy. Regular maintenance and needed facilities projects have continued, as have budget and finance planning, full-time faculty online teaching for LUC courses, and many director’s duties that ensure the campus remains safe, secure, and ready to open, once approval from Chicago is given. Over the past several weeks, a task force of individuals in Rome and Chicago has been meeting to lay the groundwork for ensuring the JFRC is fully operational once the Rome Center is approved to reopen. We remain hopeful that a cohort of students will be allowed to study abroad at the JFRC during the next academic year.
The JFRC was founded by John Felice as a place for global healing, and its core mission remains as central to the JFRC’s identity today as it was six decades ago. Given the ongoing effects of the pandemic, we would be well reminded to reflect on Papa Francesco’s words during the moving “Urbi et Orbi” benediction he gave last Good Friday from St. Peter’s Square: “From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies, and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: ‘Do not be afraid' (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, ‘cast all our anxieties onto you, for you love us' (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).”
During this season of hope, my prayer is that Easter blessings of patience and compassion be yours in abundance. The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have not been easy on any of us, including faculty and staff of the Loyola Rome Center. We carry tremendous sadness in our hearts, both personally and collectively, of loved ones who have fallen ill, friends and family who have died, plans and careers that have been altered, and opportunities that were lost due to quarantine, school and business closings, and economic exigency. Let us pray that our entire JFRC community remains safe and that our hearts be filled with gratitude and generosity.
A good Pesach and a joyful Buona Pasqua from all of us at the Loyola Rome Center to you and your friends and family!
Warmest regards and great affection,
Dr. Michael F. Andrews
Director, John Felice Rome Center
Loyola University Chicago