Monday, November 06, 2006

CNS STORY: Vatican Latinist starts gratis academy for students eager for Latin

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- In the heart of ancient Rome, tucked between the Pantheon and the Roman Forum, a new Academy of Latin has been established by the Vatican's chief Latinist.

On Nov. 2, U.S. Carmelite Father Reginald Foster announced "festive ac jucunde," or "joyously and delightfully," the opening of a new "Academia Romae Latinitatis" for all English speakers interested in learning or brushing up on their Latin.

The Milwaukee-born priest, who works in the Latin-language section of the Vatican's Secretariat of State, told Catholic News Service Oct. 31 that he had been itching "to start something new."

When his enormously popular Latin courses were canceled at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University in mid-October for a lack of registered, paying students, Father Foster took that as a sign to branch out on his own and start up his own school.

Interested students were to meet Nov. 6 at the academy's new venue on Via della Gatta in Rome's Piazza Venezia in order to "sign up" for his free classes starting Nov. 7.

Father Foster said he had received numerous offers from people willing to provide him classroom space for his new academy, including one from a former student who heads the Rome-based American Institute for Roman Culture.

"I married him; I baptized his daughter," Father Foster said of Darius Arya who will be renting out the classroom space for the Latin courses.

When friends, current students and former students heard Father Foster would no longer be teaching at the Gregorian University after teaching there for 30 years, there was an outpouring of support and offers to provide funding for the new project.

"I got a letter from Milwaukee that said all the Milwaukeeans I've taken around the Vatican could take up a collection and I said, 'No, it's not that bad.' But it's very, very nice" of them to have offered, he said.

Now that he has the classroom space, the 67-year-old priest said, "I'm very excited about it and enthusiastic with the whole idea" of being able to teach a five-year Latin program the Father Foster way: gratis and open to the "populus."

CNS STORY: Vatican Latinist starts gratis academy for students eager for Latin

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