Sunday, October 13, 2013


Greetings from Roma! It's been one crazy week here in the Eternal city. Not only was it my first week here in Rome, it was also the week before the Convocation's (Diocese of all the European Episcopal Churches) Convention. If you're not familiar with convention, its basically the Congress of the Convocation (Hopefully next weeks convention is a little more productive than the US congress). Not only is it convention, but the St. Paul's Board of Trustees is convening next week as well, so needless to say there has been a lot of preparation work for these big events.


Even with all that stuff going on, I've been able to get a good feel for what the next year is going to be like, and if this week is any indication of what's in store for next year, it's going to be nothing short of incredible. Austin picked me up at the airport last saturday and took me directly to the place that everyone goes right when they arrive in Rome, The Vatican Supermarket (which happens to be right behind the papal palace). Ok ok, so maybe it's not everyone's first stop in Rome, but it was mine. You actually need a special card to enter, so it's basically the Pope's Costco. We got some fantastic prosciutto and fresh mozzarella for lunch, then headed to St Paul's.

My new home is amazing. It's breathtakingly beautiful and it's close to pretty much everything famous in Rome. I still have no idea how I scored this position, but I am extremely grateful to have done so. My new apartment is in the rectory of the Church, which is just behind the sanctuary. I have a nice little room and I share a bathroom and kitchen with the other 5 people that live on the floor. Most of the other people in the collegio are masters students at a local Catholic University. It seems to be a really nice living situation so far!

The view from my room
St. Paul's Sanctuary
This is literally a 2 minute walk from my
apartment. 2 minutes, y'all!!

In between all the sightseeing and exploring, which there has been a lot of, I've found time to work! My placement here at St. Paul's will primarily be with the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, which is run out of the church's undercroft. It's truly an incredible and hectic experience to enter the center for the first time. Nearly 200 refugees come to the center everyday. The center serves a small breakfast and distributes some basic hygiene supplies, like toothbrushes and soap. It's basically a way for people to come get off the streets for a while and be with people that are experiencing the same struggles and hardships that they are experiencing. Many of the refugees had to leave all of their family and friends behind in their country, so they arrive in Italy and don't know a soul. I cannot even conceive of the sense of loneliness they must feel.

The Artisans Group
I've also been working with the JNRC Artisans group, which is a group of hand picked members from the center that create beautiful works of art. The pieces are sold to help raise support and awareness for the JNRC, but most of the proceeds from the sales go back to the group to help generate some sustainable income. The guys in the group are, without a doubt, some of the most incredible people I've had the honor to meet. Even though the group comes from many different countries, backgrounds, ethnic groups, and religions, they work together with a powerful sense of respect and dignity for one another that is unlike anything I've ever seen. The stories of how many of them came to Italy are nothing short of heart-breaking. I am incredibly blessed that they are willing to let me come in and work with them.

Bowls made from rolled newspaper
Necklace from newspaper
Please keep the Artisans group and all the refugees in your prayers, as they are very much in need of them. You will definitely be hearing more from me on how you all can help support the work of the JNRC and the Artisans group.

It's been an amazing first week and I am very excited to get more involved with the work here. This next week will be a crazy one for St. Paul's with the convention and board visit, but we'll get through it! Last year, I finished every blog post with the words "Sala hantle," which is Sesotho for "Be well." I'm not sure what the correct Italian phrase for that is, so I'll figure that our before next time. Until then, be well!

1 comment:

  1. Jared,
    I'm so happy you're doing a second year in YASC, and let me say I'm really jealous of your placement in Rome! I spent a week in Rome back in '96, and I have always wanted to go back. I know you'll enjoy it there and do some awesome work for the refugee centre.

    By the way, it looks like I might make it to your old haunt in Lesotho for a few weeks after all :)