The Rector’s Address at the ITI’s 25th Dies Natalis

The official opening of the new academic year at the ITI, which marked the school’s twenty fifth anniversary, began with the solemn address by the President and Rector of the ITI, Prof. Dr. Christiaan Alting von Geusau. He opened the matriculation ceremony with words of deep gratitude, thanking all those who have made it possible for the ITI to arrive at this day of joyful celebration.  

First of all, Rector Geusau extended his gratitude to our Grand Chancellor, His Eminence Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, who has been with the ITI from the day of its foundation and who has not only always cared about this institution throughout many trials and errors, but also shared in our countless joys and blessings. He also thanked both of his predecessors, Dr. Michael Waldstein and Msgr. Larry Hogan. Although Dr. Geusau was not able to individually thank everyone who has played an important role in the history of the ITI, he expressed his deepest gratitude to all those who were present in the hall, including the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr. James Holman and his wife Claudia, and in their name all members of the Board, our benefactors, and friends. Their generous financial support, wisdom, penitence, and advice has guided us through all these years. 

Dr. Geusau also extended his appreciation to Architect Walter Hildebrand and his wife Primrose who welcomed the ITI in the Kartause Gaming in its early years of existence; to the former Board Member and Financial Director, Mr. Horst Laimer; our attorney Dr. Wolfgang Kopf; to all the members of the Faculty and Staff, especially to those who have been with the ITI the longest time— our Dean Dr. Bernhard Dolna and our Chaplain Rev. Fr. Juraj Potocky Terek— but also to all the ITI families for their quiet service and great sacrifice. On this festive day of celebrating the ITI’s twenty-fifth Dies Natalis, the Rector said: “Without you, the ITI would not even be able to exist.” 

The Rector then turned his address to the students, emphasizing the importance of their presence at the ITI. He started his discourse with three examples of how ideological totalitarianism is a result of relativism. This relation was often raised by our founder, Saint Pope John Paul II, as well as His Holiness Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI, who both believed that relativism often influences the direction of our thoughts and judgements. To further explain this belief, Dr. Geusau called to mind a quote of one of his favorite authors, Michael O’Brien, who wrote: “There is no greater imprisonment of the mind than the illusion that it is free and superior. The prisoner who does not see his own chains, feels no need to break them.” 

This is why it is of utmost importance that students continue to attend the ITI. “It is here,” the Rector states, “that you learn how to think independently of those chains, whatever these chains are; self-imposed chains or chains of society that make us not free. That you become human beings that are capable of debate, that are capable of thought . . . that you are capable of exchange so that we can have a robust debate and jointly travel down the road of understanding and approach the truth in whatever area that is. That is the reason why you are here: this freedom to learn how to think, this freedom to be open, this freedom to want to understand . . . because for that in our society there is ever less room.” 

Concluding his address, Prof. Dr. Geusau then raised the age-old question, namely, what is the meaning of life? He turned to the book of the Auschwitz survivor Viktor Frankl Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything and responded in the words of the author: “We should not ask the question: what is the sense of my life? But we should ask: what does life expect of me? What task in life is waiting for me? How can I serve society?” 

In order to do that, Viktor Frank says, we have to learn the meaning of the present moment. It is never a question of where someone is in life, or which profession he is in, it is only a matter of how each person occupies his life and best fulfills his place. It is with this thought that the Rector closed his speech: “Dear Students, as we go into the opening of this academic year what I wish and what I pray is that you receive the grace of this year and that you find out how you are called to fill this place in life and in the world.” 


The Homily of the General Secretary of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference at the ITI 25th Dies Natalis 

The Keynote Address of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the ITI’s 25th Dies Natalis