Gerard Pross visits the IUS

Gerard Pross visits the IUS

After “Together for Europe 2012”


Last 22 May the students and staff of the  IUS were able to catch a bit of the atmosphere of “Together for  Europe.” Some leaders from the YMCA (in Germany)  - the historical social action organization - visited the Institute during their visit to the small town of Loppiano of the Focolare Movement. The YMCA was born in London in the middle of the 1800s, and today, at least in Europe, it is known above all for its ecumenical profile. 

The photos show them amidst the students and professors of the IUS: Gerard Pross, director of the YMCA of Esslingen and also coordinator of the leadership group for  120 Evangelical Lutheran groups and associations in Germany, with this wife Margarete; Roland Werner, secretary general for Germany;  Daniel Botero, in charge of international relations for South America and Italy; and  Christoph Raedel, professor of Ecumenical Theology and president of the YMCA University Institute  at Kassel, Germany.


Alongside the Focolare Movement, also members of the YMCA in Germany have been among the promoters of  “Together for Europe” right from the beginning; an unprecedented experience of communion among different Christian communities in the European context that today takes on the name of the international event promoted on a periodic basis. The third edition of it was held in Brussels last 12 May. There is thus a bond of friendship and of mutual esteem at the origins of this visit, a friendship that has been extended to Sophia University, in particular ever since some students from the IUS were able to take part in the preparations for the recent ecumenical initiative in Brussels (see news article on the website).   

For this reason, the words addressed to the president of Sophia by Gerard Pross, a personality of great spiritual stature, drew special attention. He was among the first to recognize the signs of “a prophetic journey of communion” in the different stages of Christian associations and movements drawing closer which, staring from 1999, led to the Days of “Together for Europe.”

After having stated that the encounter with the experience of the IUS represented a central moment of their visit to the small town of Loppiano, Pross wished that the two academic institutions promoted by the YMCA and the Focolare in Germany and in Italy could begin a collaboration as soon as possible. The invitation was welcomed favourably and it was possible to identify the first feasible short-term projects, in order to promote a mutual familiarity and exchange between the two academic centers, in view of defining real and longer term collaborative projects.  

Christoph Raedel, president of the YMCA Institute in Kassel, thus expressed himself: "I think that in our ecumenical relations it is not a matter of finding just the least common denominator, but an encounter, full unity…. Through a journey of growth that we can share together.” And   Gerard Pross: “In these years, we prepared to discover and share the riches of one another. Now we can listen together to the questions that society is posing us, In Europe and elsewhere, and to offer a word that becomes culture, allowing ourselves to be guided by that unity that is already alive and operating among us.”

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