ROME – This Easter, more than 100 Notre Dame students studying in various locations throughout Europe went on pilgrimage to Rome for a weekend of sightseeing, prayer and reflection organized by Campus Ministry. John Paul Lichon, campus minister and retreats director, met the pilgrims in Saint Peter’s Square on Saturday afternoon to distribute tickets for the Easter Sunday Mass. Students from programs all over Europe – including in Greece, Spain, England, Ireland and Italy – reunited by the obelisk in the middle of the piazza, hugging, laughing and sharing stories from their travels. The pilgrimage is an annual event coordinated by Campus Ministry, which includes tours of Rome’s churches, admittance to the Easter Sunday Mass led by Pope Francis and the opportunity to reflect in the presence of Rome’s most precious relics, Lichon said. Easter is the most important feast of the year for the Church, Lichon said, but the pilgrimage will take on special significance this year. “We’ve been doing the pilgrimage for a long time, but it just turned out this year it was with the new pope, so that has been exciting,” Lichon said. “The main focus is truly to be on pilgrimage for Easter, to truly enter into Triduum.” Lichon said Campus Ministry offered two pilgrimage “tracks.” The full track includes three days of sightseeing and guided reflection, while the Easter Sunday track admits students only for the Mass in Saint Peter’s Square, Lichon said. “It’s been fantastic. There’re about 40 students doing the full track with us, and we did the whole Triduum service together. We did a bunch of churches together on Friday, we did Saint Peter’s [Saturday] morning and we’re going to do the Vatican Museum,” he said. “Then about 110 students are coming just for the Easter Sunday Mass.” Though the tours and photo opportunities excite the participants, Lichon said the goal of the pilgrimage was to engage in prayer. “Rome at this time is just crazy, and we wanted to create a space that was prayerful and reflective and truly enter into Triduum,” he said. “I think that’s what this week is really about.” Junior Caity Bobber, who is studying abroad in London, participated in all of the pilgrimage’s planned events. “We began [Friday] with morning prayer at the Coliseum, and we saw the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, where the skulls of Saints Peter and Paul are,” Bobber said. “It’s actually where the bishop of Rome is, so that’s the cathedral of Rome.” Each day of the pilgrimage is scheduled from 7 a.m. until late at night, while some days stretch past midnight, Bobber said. “Last night, the Stations of the Cross began at 9:15 p.m., but we met at 6:45 p.m. to wait for our spot,” Bobber said. “It was a jam-packed day.” Mary Coghlin, a junior studying abroad in London, said visiting the Holy Stairs held special religious significance for her. “I would say we were all surprised by that,” Coghlin said. “It’s 28 stairs taken from the office of Pontius Pilate, so when Jesus was walking to his condemnation, he was walking down those stairs.” Coghlin said Saint Helen, Constantine’s mother, moved the stairs and other elements of Christ’s crucifixion back to Rome. “It’s the original marble, and now they’re covered in another wood, and pilgrims go up each of these 28 steps on their knees while praying. It’s about a 25-minute ordeal,” she said. “It’s way more moving than you would expect. People did specific prayers, acts of contrition. Some people received indulgences.” The students also attended the Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross ceremony, held at the Coliseum on Friday night, Coghlin said. “It was candlelit and we were close to Papa Francesco and it was beautiful,” Coughlin said. “[In the ceremony] there was Italian and a lot of Latin, which was nice because you were able to say the Our Father in that. There were also a lot of Notre Dame people there, and it was a great day.” The group’s intense touring schedule didn’t leave the pilgrims much free time, but Lichon said the group purposefully walked a fine line between seeing Rome as tourists and visiting the churches as worshippers. “You visit the churches for a purpose, you don’t just walk in and take a picture,” he said. “You [try to] understand what this church brings to you in a special way. You ask, how is God trying to speak to you through this place?” Contact Meghan Thomassen at [email protected]
“We will work to develop a minor in pensions for our many master students in finance and/or economics at CBS,” he said.These courses – and perhaps the minor – will also be available for masters students at other universities, Sørensen said.Funding has been pledged by the pensions sector to the tune of DKK2m per year for the first five years, and CBS will top this up with an extra 25%, or DKK500,000 a year, for five years.The centre aims to put on a “flagship” conference once a year, as well as workshops and possibly other activities to bridge ideas, knowledge and learning between practitioners and academics interested in pension issues, Sørensen said.The first flagship event will be held in June, focusing on the pension sector investing in a low interest-rate environment.Right now, this is one of the two main challenges Sørensen sees facing the Danish pensions industry, the other being the increasing number of people becoming pensioners who will need to sustain their level of living based on pension savings.The centre already has a number of research projects in progress, including one on forecasting stock returns for long-term investors, one on the implications of credit constraints on retirement saving decisions and another on the macroeconomic effects of longevity adjustment of the retirement age and pension benefits.The three directors – all professors at CBS – are Sørensen, Svend Erik Hougaard Jensen from the department of economics and Jesper Rangvid from the department of finance.“Other academics involved in the centre are mostly other researchers from the department of economics and the department of finance at CBS,” Sørensen said.“But there will also be a few academics from other universities – both in Denmark and outside Denmark – involved.”Besides Lærernes Pension and PensionDanmark, the centre’s list of sponsors from the industry includes ATP, Danica Pension, Industriens Pension, Nykredit Livsforsikring, Topdanmark, SEB Pensionsforsikring and Skandia Livsforsikring.Though the centre will work closely with the pension sector, including people working at pension funds and providers on its advisory board, Hougaard Jensen stressed it would maintain academic objectivity.“The cooperation with the pension sector is an essential part of PeRCent,” he said. “It provides us with a direct dialogue so we can coordinate our work with the sector continuously.“But, of course, we are not in the sector’s pocket, and the research we do is independent.”Torben Andersen, professor at Aarhus University – who is currently chairman of the Pension Commission in Denmark – will chair PeRCent’s advisory board.Other members of the advisory board are Peter Løchte Jørgensen, also a professor at Aarhus University; Susan Christoffersen, professor at the University of Toronto; Möger Pedersen; Brüniche-Olsen; Per Bremer Rasmussen, chief executive of industry association Forsikring & Pension; Danica’s chief executive Per Klitgaard; ATP chief executive Carsten Stendevad; and Laila Mortensen, chief executive of Industriens Pension. A new research centre on pensions has begun work in Copenhagen with DKK12.5m (€1.7m) in funding over the next five years, with the aim of increasing knowledge of the subject through research and helping develop the industry sector in Denmark.The Pension Research Centre (PeRCent) started up in January at Copenhagen Business School (CBS), having secured funding from the industry, as well as the business school itself.CBS professor Carsten Sørensen, one of the centre’s three leaders, told IPE: “We hope to provide excellent research output in the period so that the centre may continue receiving external funding from the pension sector in Denmark also, in continuation of this five-year period.”As well as producing this research, the centre will develop pension courses for CBS students.