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College of Arts and Sciences

Reflections From a Semester in Rome

Jasmine De LeonWhat were some of the highlights of your semester in Rome?

In the beginning of the semester, I was grateful to attend the vigil for the opening of the 2023 Synod. I never thought someone like me could participate in such a significant moment of history that will influence the future of the Church.

Some highlights of the semester were meeting Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Irish President Michael D. Higgins, several ambassadors to the Holy See, and spending time with the Filipino community in Rome. I also had the opportunity to attend an event at my college on the Good Friday Agreement organized by the Ireland and UK Ambassadors to the Holy See, which brought together religious leaders from Ireland and the Church to discuss the agreement.

I had so much fun during the semester. I enjoyed playing soccer with the lay people, seminarians, priests, and deacon I lived with. I studied violin performance for most of my life, and I was able to participate in liturgies and concerts at the Irish College (one time on Grafton Street in Dublin when I visited!). I also learned a few Irish songs and performed them with my friend who plays guitar.

Jasmine De LeonHow did the semester in Rome complement your education at Seton Hall? Were there particular sites of interest you visited or topics you discussed in courses in Rome that you had first explored at Seton Hall?

I took many philosophy courses that directly related to my studies in diplomacy. Some of my classes explored ethics of war, President Truman’s use of the atomic bomb, and women’s rights. In one of my courses, I read through the entire Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle and The Confessions by Augustine. I previously read passages of those books in my second colloquium of the Honors Program, and I enjoyed reading both in full. It was a very special experience for me to take a tour of the Vatican Museums to see the Michelangelo’s "Creation of Adam" in the Sistine Chapel and Raphel’s "School of Athens." I grew up looking at those pieces of art in my parents' living room.

I always dreamed of studying at Pontificia Università Gregoriana (Gregorian University) Gregorian, which made studying there and learning more about the Jesuits and about St. Ignatius quite special. My professors at the Greg were experts in philosophy, theology, and sacred spaces. For one of my classes, my professor, who is a Jesuit, said mass in the place where St. Ignatius died and is buried.

What are you bringing back to Seton Hall with you next semester? How will your approach to your courses or your contributions to student life be different after your experience this semester?

I lived in an international environment – the Pontifical Irish College had representation from every continent – which opened my eyes to new cultures and ways of thinking. The members of my lay program, and the seminarians, priests, and deacon I lived with are incredible, kind people, and I am very grateful for everyone at the Irish College for giving me a home and a family.

As one of the first lay women – and one of the first Filipino lay women - to live and study in the Irish College in its 346 years of history, and with the support of the Roman Filipino community, I learned so much about myself, my culture, and how to represent who I am in Rome. These are lessons I will remember for the rest of my life.

Would you recommend that other Seton Hall students apply participate in this particular study abroad program? Why?

I highly recommend that other Seton Hall students, particularly from a Catholic background, apply and participate in the program. Rome is a unique place for diplomacy, religion, and culture, and living abroad in the Pontifical Irish College is one of the highlights of my college career.

The Catholic Studies program is unique in Rome, offering a lay program within a larger priestly community. I really hope that the program continues for a long time and that other colleges in Rome create partnerships with similar lay programs. I really felt I was part of a universal church at the Irish College - religious and lay people living in community as partners and friends.

Categories: Faith and Service