Christian Education

From New Jersey to Italy and back

Participants in the Spring 2022 Study Abroad Experience of Catholic Studies, Foundations of Christian Culture – Italy, returned from their trip a month ago and settled in to successfully complete the semester. However, their time with them in Italy is still very present.

Back in New Jersey on March 14, the students have had time to reflect on their experience in Italy, and the verdict is uniformly that the trip was a perspective-changing and life-changing experience.

The group spent several weeks preparing for the trip, meeting to engage in readings about the significance of the sites they would visit. Since their return, they have come together to discuss what they have seen and experienced in Italy and how these sites and events make an ongoing contribution to Christian life around the world.

During the trip, the students, led by Catholic Studies program director Ines Murzaku, Ph.D., explored Sicily, the Amalfi Coast and Rome. They witnessed ancient history at archaeological sites, enjoyed regional Italian cuisine, were impressed by the architectural and artistic skills of medieval Italian artists and craftsmen, and worshiped with the Universal Church before some of the relics most venerated in the Church and receiving a blessing from the Pope. Francis during the Angelus.

“Although I have seen the sites we visited in Italy many times during my work and studies there, I found this year’s trip particularly exciting,” said Dr Murzaku. . “Watching our students soak up the beauty and history of these parts of Italy for the first time made the experience new for me too. Traveling in the post-COVID world presented its own challenges, but overcoming these challenges made the experience even better. Although there are still 11 months to go, I am already looking forward to our next study abroad experience in Italy next spring!”

For the spring semester 2023, Catholic Studies is planning another study trip abroad: Italy in the footsteps of the saints.

After taking several weeks to digest their experiences in Italy, some students shared their thoughts.

“My favorite part of the trip was going to the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. It was one of the most beautiful things I have seen in my entire life. Walking along the valley as the sun sets layer and showcase the beauty of the temples and the scenery below was such an amazing experience that I could never have had if I had only looked at a picture of it in a textbook. of the class, I was looking at some facts, maybe writing an article about some information that would be part of the ear and the other, and not being able to fully grasp the meaning of this amazing place. there, walking around and seeing everything made me want to know more and pay more attention to details and facts. Traveling abroad allowed me to fall in love with a place and develop a passion for learning it, and it provided me with an experience I will never forget.” – Kaila Engle, ’25, major in diplomacy and international relations

“My favorite part of the trip was Monreale Cathedral. I was blown away by the mosaics and depictions of biblical passages on every inch of the cathedral. It was the most beautiful church I have seen in my life.” – Jasmine De Leon, 24, major in diplomacy and international relations/Catholic studies, Asian studies and minor in journalism

“Exploring traditional cuisine, language, and lifestyle allowed my placement of being a black woman in America to transition to being a black woman abroad. I was raised around the same people and concepts; however, traveling allowed me to digest first-hand different philosophies that inevitably intertwined. I was shocked that historically Italy lacked meaningful black diversity, although it There is little evidence of Indo-Euro and Afro-Euro people residing there. Nonetheless, there were aspects of blackness embedded in the culture (for example, couscous originated in Africa). If I could say one thing to a student who is considering taking a Catholic studies abroad course in Italy in a future semester, I would say: put yourself in the shoes of the natives of the country you are visiting, push yourself to understand their diet, and push you to try it and learn it according to their ass you.” – Micayla Asamoa-Afriyie, 24, political science major

“The last day of the trip ended with the farewell dinner, which was very emotional. It was the most incredible experience of my life, and I wish I could have expressed better how much everyone during of this trip, especially Dr. Murzaku, means tome.” – Isabella Buccino, ’23, nursing major
“Having been so close to Dr. Murzaku and the whole group, the farewell dinner was really difficult, so much so that I couldn’t hold back my tears! This trip will always hold a very special place in my heart. I will always remember this and the special people I met.” – Alyssa Papalia, ’23, nursing major

“Writing from the airport about to catch the flight back to Newark, I began to think back to everything we experienced on that trip. I was never a particularly religious person. grew up in the Catholic Church and am currently in my seventh year of Catholic education, but my faith always felt like going all the way because that was what was expected of me socially. never felt I had the heart within and never had a deeper understanding, yet this journey has allowed me to begin to explore and understand the rich Catholic cultural tradition in a way that few people experience truly going to the roots and learning at my own pace through exploration and cultural exposure. It made me feel so much more deeply connected to my faith because for the first time in my life, I felt that my spiritual enrichment was real love in my hands.” –Ryan McMullin, ’25. Major Diplomacy, International Relations and Law

“As I was sitting at the airport on my way home and thinking about the trip, I got very emotional. I didn’t want to leave. Every day I learned a lot and got to see some of the most amazing sites the world has to offer. Many sites brought me closer to my religion and opened my eyes to the history of Catholicism. The cultural experiences were also enjoyable. We really got to experience what it’s like life in Italy now, and we learned a lot about what it was like in ancient times. I hope to return to Italy and continue to see all that the country has to offer. I came back a more educated person, more religious and more enlightened. Thank you, teacher!” – Angela Noyes, ’24, psychology major

“During my studies abroad in Italy, I was able to explore and experience the foundations and history of Christianity in real time. All the knowledge I had before was instantly put into practice. offered a totally different way of learning, which not only affected my mind, but also my personal relationship with God. Seeing the holy places and learning from our teacher gave me an immersive understanding of the true essence and treasure of the Christian thought, which can be difficult to understand in a classroom setting. I am truly grateful for this unforgettable academic and spiritual journey!” – Maria Smutelovicova, ’23, Major in Diplomacy and International Relations and Modern Languages/Minor in Catholic Studies

“Without traveling, you will not be able to fully understand how important the history of Christian culture is to the locals and the Catholic religion. Yes, one can see the beautiful architecture and read the history online, but physically going to Italy made it possible for my classmates and I to hear the local stories and beliefs, and how so many lives are hosted around their belief here. There really is a difference between seeing it on a screen and in witness in person.—Farrell Dawson, ’25, finance major

For more information on the upcoming Spring 2023 Catholic Studies Italy in the Footsteps of the Saints study abroad course, please contact Gloria Aroneo at [email protected] or (973) 275-2808.