THE UNIVERSITY CHAPEL: PLACE OF HUMAN AND CHRISTIAN GROWTH
HISTORY AND PURPOSE
The University Chapel of our city has a relatively short history. It was in fact built in the early 90s by the then Archbishop Bonicelli who intended through it to fill a gap in the pastoral care of the Diocese. In the fifteen years of his life the aims of the chapel have not changed. They consist in the spiritual assistance of young university students and the teaching staff, in the cultural animation of the university community from a Catholic perspective, in the proposal of a concrete space for meeting and human growth offered to all students of the University.
The composition of the chapel varies continuously in relation to the rhythms of life of the students characterized by an ever greater mobility. There are thus a few hundred university students who, with different frequency and accepting the proposals that best correspond to their interests, pass through the chapel. For many of them this reality becomes a significant place for growth and it is these students who naturally structure themselves as the promoting group of the life of the Chapel. There are currently sixty-eighty young people coming from more or less all the faculties of the University. At particular times during the academic year, the Chapel involves a much larger number of students through cultural initiatives (conferences or series of high-level training meetings) and even more specifically religious ones.
The Diocese is present in this reality with a formation team made up of the Rector (currently Don Roberto Bianchini) and the Sisters Daughters of the Church. On a national level (University Office and CEI school) the Sienese reality is well known and highly appreciated. Always present on all occasions of national meetings, it was also the subject of publications and of study interest for other experiences that were maturing in other parts of Italy.
AREAS OF ACTIVITY
The main areas of activity of the University Chapel are three: religious, social, cultural. The basic orientation is to activate every possible synergy between these three fields to promote the integral formation of the person by enhancing the specifics of the university context.
In the religious sphere, there are many initiatives and range from offering specific celebrations for students, to spiritual direction, catechesis, and the study of the Bible.
The social sphere has more blurred boundaries. Here, first of all, we offer a space that is the premises of via Sallustio Bandini. Activities are also proposed: sports days in June as a moment of presentation of the Chapel to university students, an annual trip as an opportunity for knowledge and fraternity, moments of celebration throughout the year. Another aspect in the social field is the concrete help that our structure provides to students in difficulty: human accompaniment and connection with the Youth Counseling Center for children with psychological problems of growth, help to freshmen to enter the city and the University, effort to solve housing problems through our student network.
The cultural area is par excellence that of the Chapel. All our activities are in fact oriented to the cultural growth of university students. This is the purpose of the polyphonic choir in which several foreign students also participate; this is the purpose of the Cineforum with the series of films screened in winter whose programming is carefully followed by a special group of young people. However, the conferences that over the years have created the tradition of San Vigilio Thursdays contribute to cultural growth. In this context, the most prestigious names of the national scientific community (A. Zichichi, M. Hack), exponents of republican institutions (Marcello Pera), of the Catholic Church (Cardinal Martino), of university research (Prof. Vattimo, Bodei etc …).