The Inauguration ceremony of the 2023/2024 Academic Year of the Sophia University Institute (SUI) took place on Friday, 12th April 2024, in the Auditorium of the international little town of Loppiano (Figline and Incisa Valdarno – FI).

On 12th April, 2024, on the occasion of the inauguration ceremony of the 16th Academic Year of the SUI that took place on, in the Auditorium of Loppiano (Figline and Incisa Valdarno – FI), Margaret Karram, President of the Focolare Movement, extended her best wishes to the students who, in this historical moment, have chosen “with courage and hope”, to prepare for the future by attending the Sophia University Institute. She said, “May Sophia be a place which forms women and men who are able to be bearers of peace and unity in these times”.

The religious and civil authorities present included Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop of Florence and Grand Chancellor of the Sophia University Institute, Msgr. Stefano Manetti, the Bishop of Fiesole and Giulia Mugnai, Mayor of Figline and Incisa Valdarno.

In his opening remarks, Card. Betori referred to times of crisis such as the one we are experiencing, saying that the event was a moment of reflection on the role of universities and of Sophia in particular. He said that Sophia has the task of testifying to the reasonableness of the faith. And therefore educating to read and interpret reality, guiding the gaze of every young person towards that truth that maybe unconsciously, each one seeks”.

Newly appointed Rector, Declan O’Byrne, an Irish theologian declared the 2023-2024 Academic Year open at the end of a speech that led participants to reflect on the social value of universities. He said. “If States invest in universities, it is because it is believed to be in the national interest to invest in young people. Investment is made because well-educated young people bring social benefits. It is believed that a nation that ensures the education of new generations will be able to adapt and bring innovation that, in turn, will guarantee the future competitiveness of the nation itself.” Regarding the particular mission of the Sophia University Institute, he reiterated: “We want to be a place where, while aware that we are experiencing a dramatic historical moment, we look at the human capacity to build lasting peace. We want to study and teach how to see those ‘seeds’ that already today express the possibility of resolving the crisis we are experiencing”.

The ceremony concluded with a lecture given by Massimiliano Marianelli, Full Professor of the History of Philosophy at the University of Perugia entitled “Sophia, rediscovering the human in the ‘between’”, which focussed  on the human being and the primacy of relationships.

The event was streamed live and is available on Youtube in Italian and English at the links accessible from

 Maria Grazia Berretta

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