Vatican Studies Center
The Vatican Studies Center, a project of Thomas More College and the first of its kind, introduces students to the work of the Holy See and the Catholic Church through tours of Vatican City State, Rome, and other sites in Italy of cultural and religious importance in the history of Christianity, and through its Catholic Communications internship program with Vatican based media partners, as well as Catholic organizations in the U.S. Its aim is to clarify and defend the work and relevance of the Holy See to contemporary society.
The Vatican Studies Center is particularly concerned about communicating the Church’s teaching to a wider audience through a range of media forums and outlets. As part of this effort, the Vatican Studies Center conducts a series of lectures entitled The Vatican Forum, which offers international journalists, members of the Roman Curia, as well as students and seminarians in Rome, an informed and intelligent perspective about current cultural controversies or issues in the news involving the Church.
Vatican Forum speakers have included theologians, journalists, clergy, and academics of various specialties addressing reporters from the Associated Press, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Newsweek magazine, CNN, and the BBC, as well as journalists from Catholic outlets such as Zenit News Agency, Inside the Vatican, Catholic World Report, The National Catholic Reporter, and The National Catholic Register.
The lectures of the Vatican Forum have been met with gratitude from journalists, members of the Roman Curia, seminarians, and others who have attended. With sufficient funding, we intend to continue offering this series both in Rome and in New Hampshire, posting recorded video of the events on-line.
Catholic Communications Partnerships
The director of Thomas More College’s Vatican Studies Center, Tony Assaf, is also the founder and editor of the Arabic language edition of Zenit News and the founding editor of its Arabic edition. From Thomas More College’s campus, he is translating the Pope’s words and reporting on Church news in Arabic and spreading it wide into the Arabic-speaking world, along with the intellectual content from Vatican Studies Center-related programs.
Through this effort, we are strengthening the bond among Arabic-speaking Christians and the Universal Church, correcting misconceptions and prejudgments about the Catholic Church in the Middle East, and filling the void of Catholic information in the Arabic language by tirelessly promoting the news and teachings of the Catholic Church. Zenit News is the only news agency that translates all of the Holy Father’s speeches into Arabic.
H2onews.org is the first Catholic multimedia agency that functions as a free portal for Catholic media around the world, producing news packages in nine languages everyday for use in websites, television, radio, and print media. H2onews’ partners include Vatican Television Center and the Catholic News Service of the USCCB.
Thomas More College will host the first Catholic Communications Intensive Program in the summer of 2010 with media professionals from H2onews and other collaborating agencies. The program will be open to college students, students in social communications faculties of other institutions, and the general public.
Pilgrimages to Rome
Complementing Thomas More College’s venerable Rome program for sophomores, the Center organizes tours of key Vatican congregations, offices, and museums. In past semesters, Thomas More College students were given guided tours by Vatican officials of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio, and the Vatican Museums. They were also given the opportunity to participate in the Vatican’s Holy Week ceremonies and a special Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica celebrated by Benedict XVI in remembrance of Pope John Paul II.
The Vatican Studies Center Internships Program was established for the benefit of the College’s students who wish to gain work experience in the Eternal City or Washington, D.C., in the fields of Catholic communications, public policy, or Catholic charities. Since its inception in 2007, dozens of TMC students have completed internships with H2onews during their Rome semester, recorded news packages for H2onews on the Merrimack campus, and have been placed in internships with an organization at the United Nations in New York and the Culture of Life Foundation in Washington, DC.
Plans for the Future
While the Vatican Studies Center has accomplished a great deal in its short history, we have ambitious plans for the future. With sufficient funds, we hope to expand our commitment to fashioning a new generation of Catholic journalism capable of mediating the Vatican’s perspectives and teachings to a wider public, as well as offering unique educational opportunities in areas related to Vatican studies. Simultaneously, we hope to increase our ability to deliver quality lectures, conferences, teacher training programs, books, internships, and other educational projects and resources.