We propose a few excepts from the Introduction to “La Grande Casa”, a book commemorating the 15th anniversary of Il Centro, an experience of hospitality in the heart of Rome.

Fifteen years have passed in which the locales of via delle Sette Sale, the street of the Seven Chambers, a short walk from the Coliseum and Saint Mary Major, have been progressively transformed into a place of hospitality and shared life for young people.
Anniversaries help us become aware of our own history, of the gifts that we have received, of the road that we have walked, at times even unawares. This book would like to be a small tool to help us gain consciousness of the experience we have lived, and of the task that still awaits us.
We started off getting together in order to study, because it would be deceitful if friends were not to share what life asks of them. We took care of these walls, following the reconstruction and the modifications that a growing life demanded, because making sure things are beautiful, and looking after the details, reveals one’s love for people much more than words. Glad for all that we lived during the school year, the tradition of our Summer Festival began, with various proposals and moments together.
Today it is more evident that Il Centro above all aims to educate. Our proposal is to share life with one another, and to open ourselves up to everything that life brings to our attention.
The path of these years has made us more aware that it is possible to educate precisely because we are educated ourselves.
Each one of us is made for taking up the adventure of life, but it is a path that we cannot tread by ourselves. If we look at children, we see that without the presence of their father and mother beside them, they would be blocked by their failures and their whims. The stable presence of a friend allows them to grow, to know themselves, to face life head on.
Today we are more aware that living in community is what truly educates us. It would not be true education were it not to arrive at faith: at the discovery of Jesus as the most fascinating and precious presence imaginable, because he gives everything meaning. […]
The Youth Center, which began thanks to the contribution of laymen, priests and seminarians of the Fraternity of St. Charles, would like to be a place where we learn the same freedom. A place where to learn an attention for the person and which remains open everyday: whether it be for a single person or a group of 30. A place in where we can learn to live together, to take risks for what we desire, to engage ourselves in a relationship with those who are ahead of us. […]
Thanks to the genial education we received from Fr. Giussani, we continue to discover that Christianity is an encounter with an entirely human reality that strikes us for its exceptionality as an answer to our desires. Il Centro is simply this aid to each one’s humanity, offering the possibility to realize oneself by participating in this friendship. […]
The friendship we live together makes it possible for each one of us to enter more fully into the gratuity of God. Each new person that we encounter is an occasion that the Lord gives us to rediscover who we are, and to return to what gives us substance. In the end, the only thing we convey to others is the gratitude for what we have received.

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