Showing the Perennial Truth of Love in a Post-Modernist Culture

My name is Oana Maria Gotia. I am Romanian and Byzantine-Catholic, and I graduated from the ITI in 2002. For the past ten years I taught applied moral theology at the John Paul II Institute in Rome. This year as a visiting professor I taught Theology of the Body courses at the Theology of the Body Institute in Lyon and at my Alma Mater ITI, and an applied moral theology course at the Seminary of Ars.

I was studying theology and English in my hometown university in Romania, when I heard about a scholarship contest to study at the ITI. I was interested in applying for it because it combined both my interest in theology and my interest in the English language – and an additional bonus for me was the fact that the studies were geared toward marriage and the family. This is why in 1998 I was enrolled in the STM program.

I think what makes ITI special is threefold: first, I would point to the quality of the instruction in theology and philosophy, which is rooted in the faithfulness to the Magisterium (something that cannot be taken for granted, especially in our secularized cultures). The professors were very competent academically and their family life was a model for us all. Second, ITI is unique because of its strong spiritual and liturgical life (expressed in both rites) which infuses the studies with depth and vitality: without it, the integral formation of students would not be achieved. And lastly, I would say that ITI stands out because of the friendships which are forged there, which are long-lasting because of the community life – as culturally rich as it is international – which nourishes the academic and the spiritual aspects. All three of these aspects made a deep impression on my life and I am truly grateful for having studied there.

Studying at the ITI was an important preparatory stage for my STL and STD studies at the JPII Institute in Rome. It gave me the basis of a solid formation which was further strengthened in Rome. The fidelity to Church teaching experienced at the ITI was something that I appreciated even more while studying in the Eternal City. ITI was especially decisive for laying the first bricks of my moral theology formation – I loved the clarity and integrity of the truth presented to me by the ITI professors during my studies there: there was no ambiguity in explaining what the meaning of sexuality and love was (philosophically and theologically) - and this was something that I treasured at the JPII Institute, too.

Also, encountering so many new cultures at the ITI was a crucial step to living in cosmopolitan Rome for almost twenty years. The intensity of the prayer life at the ITI also left an important imprint which was important to maintain especially in the crazy rhythm of chaotic Roman life. I think ITI should always treasure these aspects and never lose its precious identity.