The General Secretary of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference Presided Over Holy Mass at the ITI’s 25th Dies Natalis

On 1 October 2021, the celebration of ITI Catholic University’s 25th Dies Natalis began with a solemn Holy Mass presided over by the General Secretary of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, Rev. DDr. Peter Schipka. It was an honor to welcome him to our community as the representative of the Austrian Bishops, and especially of ITI’s Grand Chancellor, His Eminence Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, who on the very day of the celebration was traveling to Damascus in Syria, in order to express his solidarity and spiritual support to the local Christians there.

The Gospel reading of the day (True Greatness - Mt.18:1-5) corresponded well to the celebration of the feast of our Patroness, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt.18:2). In his homily, Rev. Dr. Schipka compared the ITI with the child that Jesus speaks about in the Gospel. He defined three abilities of that child and applied them in his portrayal of the ITI: to listen, to communicate, and to trust. These are the three pillars, according to Fr. Schipka, without which the ITI would not exist.

“Listening,” Dr. Schipka stated in his homily, “is a central part of ITI’s way of studying. First of all, [the ITI] listens to Jesus by reading the Bible, by encountering Him in the Eucharist and in personal prayer. [The ITI] listens to the great theologians of Church history, the Church Fathers and Doctors, by reading their books. One of the principles of the ITI is listening to them directly. [The ITI] listens to the Papal Magisterium. St. Pope John Paul II has a singular position in the ITI given the fact that he founded it, but his successors, His Holiness Benedict XVI and the Holy Father Pope Francis, also give guidance to this institution.”

Fr. Schipka observed that the ITI has learned how to communicate, as well. He pointed out: “Communication between Eastern and Western theology, Eastern and Western liturgy is one of these specific hallmarks of studying at the ITI. Breathing with two lungs means that there is communion between both: Eastern and Western ways of believing and thinking. Because it is a theological institute with a real campus life, [the ITI] would not survive without communication.”

As an inspiration for the ITI, Fr. Peter encouraged us to keep trusting in God’s providence. “Without that trust the ITI certainly would not exist anymore. That is what we celebrate today. Trust in God’s providence also means trusting in the generosity of benefactors. To trust in providence means the conviction that it is not me as a theologian who has to save world, who has to save the Church. Trusting in God’s providence means: ‘I do everything I can when I am studying, learning, listening. But I must also be humble and trust in God that the Church/the world has been saved already and I only need to accept that.’”

The homily concluded by drawing on the example of St. Thérèse. Fr. Schipka said: “In her little way, she wanted to listen to God’s voice. She now communicates with us through her example of a humble and prayerful life and intercession. God’s providence made her a missionary. Who would have thought that?” He also encouraged the ITI to continue to strengthen these abilities to listen, to communicate, and to trust, as they will not only assure us a good future, but will ultimately help us to be able to enter the kingdom of God. 



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

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