San Lorenzo Centre

For 40 years, the CSL has been a home for the World Youth Day

The 40th anniversary celebration of the San Lorenzo Centre has begun


The celebration of the 40th anniversary of the San Lorenzo Centre (CSL) brought together about 100 people last Monday, March 13, at its headquarters just a short walk from St. Peter's Square in Rome.

Volunteers - both old and new - gathered in a festive evening, which included the participation of the Secretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, Dr. Gleison De Paula Souza, and some of the Dicastery's staff.

Born from the desire of Pope John Paul II, who inaugurated it on March 13, 1983, the San Lorenzo Centre is the "Pope's Centre" for all young people, a place of welcome and prayer. Entrusted to the Pontifical Council for the Laity first, and today to the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, the CSL guards the Cross of Youth, and is a point of reference for young pilgrims in Rome, a place of formation and a privileged venue for the preparation of World Youth Days (WYD).

So, forty years from its foundation, the year-long celebrations and commemorative initiatives are underway.


A humble venue and laboratory of faith

In presiding over the celebration of the Holy Mass, Cardinal José Tolentino De Mendonça spoke of thirst, starting from Psalm 62, pointing to it as a condition for the permanent search for God. The story of Naaman and the refusal of Jesus' countrymen to accept His proclamation were paradigmatic examples of the reflection on humility: “Sometimes God is so close to us that He becomes a stranger. We do not see Him anywhere, but He is there beside us”.

These key words, thirst and humility, are typical of the CSL as well. As the Portuguese Cardinal affirmed, "The San Lorenzo Centre is a humble reference point. But its humility does so much good, has done so much good over the decades. And, as St. John Paul II said, it is 'a laboratory of faith,' a laboratory of hope. A place of encounter, a place to "become rejuvenated" before the nudity of the luminous truth of the Lord's Cross.

The Secretary, Dr. De Paula Souza, extended greetings from Prefect Card. Farrell to those present, and thanked the Shalom Catholic Community - currently in charge of the Centre - reminding them of the beauty of the service of so many ecclesial movements that have come through the years to take care of the place and activities.


Hospitality and family atmosphere

The hospitality and family atmosphere typical of the San Lorenzo Centre were then emphasized through the testimonies of two former volunteers and a current volunteer.

Martine Gilsoul, a Belgian who was in charge of CSL from 2002 to 2004, pointed out the dual dimension of the Centre's mission: to be a home for young pilgrims in Rome, especially students, and to be a privileged place of preparation for the WYD.

"The CSL is home to the World Youth Day", she said, "Here I learned that the Lord can do great things from my poverty."

Fr. Konrad Bestle, Rector of the Teutonic College, volunteered at the CSL when he was a seminarian. "In 2008," he said, "a full 17 years ago, I stumbled upon the San Lorenzo Centre by chance, and it became my home during my years of study in Rome. Fr. Bestle also recalled how, during the CSL's Silver Jubilee, he had the opportunity to concelebrate there the Mass with Pope Benedict XVI.

Finally, Mateja Dugandzic told how the experience of hosting guests at the San Lorenzo Centre prompted her to "give freely what she received freely," and so from being a pilgrim she became a volunteer, giving back the hospitality she received.

Many initiatives are planned for the coming months. Already last Friday, as every Friday, a mission was held in St. Peter's Square with the Youth Cross to pray together and give thanks for the Centre's first 40 years.

20 March 2023
Messa in rendimento di grazie per il 40° anniversario del Centro San Lorenzo