mariazellWhat does a Chinese priest, an Indian layman, a Ukrainian professional, a Hungarian college kid, a Lithuanian theologian, and a Russian research scientist all have in common? That was the question at the heart of our life together at LCI in Gaming, this 2013-2014 academic year. Ten students strong, and each one from such diverse fields of study, backgrounds, cultures, habits, etc. All gathered in one location for the dual purpose of learning English and formation in the Catholic Faith. Over the course of the year, we all discovered that no matter what differences divided us, Christ Jesus was the principle of our unity as a group, He’s what kept us together and what gave us focus and purpose no matter what problems arose. And that sparked a hope in us that if that was possible here in Gaming, it can be possible in the world around us.

This hit home for our LCI group in a very concrete way as the situation in Ukraine unfolded over the course of the year. As Providence would have it, LCI had two students from Ukraine – one from (pro-revolution) Lviv, and one from (pro-Russian) Crimea. With strife and internal division in the country, combined with uncertainty and conflicting media reports, there was a tense atmosphere at times between the students. And yet, despite all that was happening on a political level, a beautiful thing occurred that gave us all a sense of hope for future peace: despite the situation our two students continued to pray together, share meals together, discuss the situation together (even while strongly disagreeing!), and live their lives in community. There was something larger that bound us all together: our faith in Christ and His Church. And it seemed that through their common love of Christ, they were able to find a common meeting point, a meeting point that was in fact stronger than any dividing point.

For the LCI group as a whole, and for the Americans who lived with us, it became an eye-opening experience and gave insight into world politics, media, and social ideals. And for all of us (Ukrainian and not) it reminded us of the Rock upon which we all stand, and that no matter what our differences are, we are bound together in the one Body of Christ. This is the mission of LCI, and this is what spurs us on in the work of the New Evangelization.