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A first lecture on the Economy of Communion in Freedom was held at the Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington DC on October 21. There were over sixty (60) students in attendance (marketing, business, and theology majors) as well as a few outside visitors including a journalist from the Catholic News Service, an owner of a construction company, and a couple aspiring entrepreneurs.
A dozen or so people stayed beyond the seminar time frame and continued the dialogue begun in the Q&A portion of the program.
The impetus for the lecture came from Andrew Abela, future department chair of Business and Economics at CUA, after meeting with Linda Specht, professor at Trinity University, at a conference at The University of Notre Dame, and after further discussions with Nick Sanna, entrepreneur, in DC.
The program for the seminar included interactive role-play, i.e., "What would you do?" scenarios, viewed first as if one was a profit-maximization executive, and, second, as if one was an EoC entrepreneur; a detailed presentation of the EoC (its history, mission, vision, operating principles, experiences, and numbers); and a beautiful sharing by John and Julie Mundell of Mundell & Associates – an environmental solutions company out of Indiana.
Chiara Lubich was featured as an honorary alumna of CUA. This came as a surprise to all and added credibility and pride to the program. John Mundell's 'calling' to become an EoC entrepreneur and Julie's outreach and planting of seeds of fraternity in the community surrounding their business were very well received. As always, the testimonies rang true and grounded the more theoretical presentation. Nick described how at another company, employee annual performance evaluations include how employees live the company 'values.'
The impressions of the students at the end of the lecture were full of new-found hope: "Wow. you showed us how we can reconcile business and faith"; "I would like to build my own business and would like to build it as an EoC one"; "I am a theology major trying to get into business; I was still hesitating but this lecture was a sign that you can do it in a Christian way"; "I'd like to be considered for an internship."
As a result of the lecture, future collaborations may result with CUA. Professor Abela was very touched by the business experiences and by how the EoC was born of and imbued with Gospel values. A number of suggestions arose including collaborations on the subject with scholars of the Focolare Movement and/or by collaborating with Sofia University in Italy.