Over 40 FADICA members made pilgrimage to Rome November 4-9 and engaged in opportunities for prayer, reflection, and dialogue with prominent Vatican and Rome-based Catholic leaders on diverse timely issues.

Members explored their philanthropic vocation and examined areas for partnership in Church priorities. FADICA pilgrims represented 16 of the 53 FADICA member foundations from across the U.S.

FADICA members participated in a workship on child protection led by Rev. Hans Zollner, SJ and Sr. and Dr. Karolin Kuhn, SSND from the Centre for Child Protection of the Pontifical Gregorian University. The workshop and proceeding liturgy that focused on prayer for victims came at a critical time, as the child and vulnerable adult protection crisis was and continues to be a critical focus in the U.S. Members also dialogued with Msgr. Robert Oliver, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Other highlights include:

  • Sr. Patricia Murray, IBVM, Executive Secretary of the International Union Superiors General and Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R., Vice President of the Union of Superiors General, discussed global trends and developments in formation.
  • Fabio Baggio, CS, Undersecretary for the Section for Refugees and Migrants of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Sr. Gabriella Bottani, SMC, Coordinator of the Talitha Kum-ARISE, presented the latest challenges for migration and human trafficking (respectively) and the priorities for the Church and her networks to protect and advance the dignity of people in these vulnerable circumstances. Their presentation was contextualized by a theological and historical framing given by FADICA President & CEO, Alexia Kelley.
  • The Vatican’s role and involvement in global issues and trends at-large were discussed in an open Q & A session with the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, GCIH, who graciously hosted the group at the Holy See’s Secretariat of State in the Apostolic Palace.
  • Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, & Life gave FADICA members a comprehensive update on the work of this important dicastery, which is the only to have women serving as undersecretaries, Dr Linda Ghisoni and Dr. Gabriella Gambino. Cardinal Farrell answered various questions about the role of laity and the family in the Church.
  • ­­Catholic Education was highlighted on the last day, when the FADICA delegation visited the Congregation for Catholic Education and dialogued with Rev. Friedrich Bechina, F.S.O. (Undersecretary) about Catholic education and its role worldwide. FADICA’s Catholic Schools Affinity Group co-anchor Joe Womac presented two of FADICA’s commissioned research papers on Catholic education to Rev. Bechina.
  • To conclude formal meetings, FADICA members spent time on the topic of living out Laudato Si’ and care for the earth with Rev. Augusto Zampini Davies, Theologian for the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Life and Tomás Insua, Founding Executive Director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, who made a compelling presentation to members.

The pilgrimage was also a unique experience of fellowship and faith. A dedicated retreat day provided space for guided spiritual and philanthropic vocational reflection on the grounds of the Lay Center at Foyer Unitas, whose staff were instrumental in arranging the many dynamic aspects of the pilgrimage.

A foundation of rich worship experiences built the foundation for the pilgrimage: Bishop Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture celebrated opening Mass at the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva; Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament celebrated a very early morning Mass at the Tomb of St. Peter in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica; and Rev. Aloysious Mowe, SJ, International Director of Advocacy and Communications for Jesuit Refugee Service celebrated Mass at the end of an afternoon retreat for FADICA members at the Lay Centre. The FADICA delegation also participated in the Wednesday General Audience and met Pope Francis. 

In addition to time for prayer, the delegation had opportunities to enjoy the art treasures of Rome, including a private visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel as well as a visit to the Galleria Borghese.