A one-year academic Fellowship program in Interreligious Studies that has three components:
- an academic program in the Ecumenical Section of the Faculty of Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (also known as the Angelicum);
- extra-curricular activities provided by the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue (such as the Israel study tour, as well as academic and practical workshops in interreligious dialogue);
- an opportunity to live and study in Rome, one of the most important centers of Interreligious Dialogue (IRD) in the world: one year to pursue individual interests in IRD and engage in dialogue with communities of other religious traditions.
Yes, we require a full-time commitment from October to June. Russell Berrie Fellows are not expected to work during their studies in Rome. We encourage the Fellows to fully dedicate themselves to the study at the Angelicum and participation in extracurricular activities, as well as to develop leadership skills in the field of IRD. During the academic year, the Fellows are asked to participate in at least eight interreligious activities other than those organized by the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue (e.g., lectures, conferences, events at other universities and institutions in Rome and elsewhere). The Angelicum is a Pontifical University.
No, the Russell Berrie Fellowship Program is open to clergy, religious leaders, and members of the lay community of all faiths and backgrounds from around the world—if they are eligible to gain admission to an academic program at the Angelicum’s Faculty of Theology.
There are three different programs/degrees that one can study and pursue as a Russell Berrie Fellow:
- The Licentiate in Theology (S.T.L., 2 years)
The Fellowship program supports only one out of the two years required.
- The Diploma in Interreligious Studies
One-year non-degree program in Dialogue.
- The Doctorate in Theology (S.T.D., 2 years)
The Fellowship program supports only one year of study. Fellowships are awarded only to Doctorate students who are enrolled in S.T.D. program and whose dissertation topic is connected to IRD.
The academic program will be in Ecumenism and Dialogue from a Christian perspective, with introductory courses in Judaism and Islam. During one year at the Angelicum, you will study the role of theology and philosophy in engaging in interreligious dialogue and how such engagements further your understanding of other religions.
This is not an academic program in World Religions. As a Russell Berrie Fellow, you will be required to take courses as per the Faculty of Theology’s curriculum and you can take some courses in various religions as electives, but these will be offered mostly at the introductory level. The program does not provide a systematic understanding of other religious traditions. Rather, there will be additional courses and workshops that will provide you with the tools on how to engage in interreligious dialogue from theological and practical perspectives through the Church’s understanding of Ecumenism and Dialogue with the Jewish people and other believers.
The curriculum includes courses in Christian anthropology, introductory courses in Judaism and other major World Religions, an introduction to principles of ecumenical dialogue, and an introduction to principles of interreligious dialogue. Please check the latest Handbook of Studies for the Faculty of Theology’s course offerings to see what specific courses are being offered during this academic year.
Additionally, all Russell Berrie Fellows are required to participate in academic and practical workshops outside of their formal coursework at the university and an academic seminar and study tour in Israel, which is conducted in cooperation with the Shalom Hartman Institute.
Yes, as a Fellow you will be expected to participate in all Fellowship events and activities organized by the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue as they are integral part of the Fellowship Program. These will include an Orientation for new Fellows, academic and practical workshops and the Israel study tour. A 10-day visit, the Israel study tour includes an academic program at the Shalom Hartman Institute and provides a rich IRD experience and exposes Fellows to firsthand experiences of IRD practice. Throughout the academic year, we also ask each Fellow to participate in at least eight interreligious activities other than those organized by the John Paul II Center.
There may be one or two courses in Islam that are being offered at the Angelicum as electives. Fellows are welcome to take extra courses in other religious traditions. It is possible to enroll in up to two courses outside of the Angelicum, provided it is approved by your academic advisor or the Dean of Theology.
The program is not focused on Eastern religions. However, as part of your academic and IRD pursuits, you are welcome to study the theology and philosophy of Eastern religions, if approved in the study plan.
The Fellowship program is named after the late Russell Berrie, an American entrepreneur, philanthropist and the founder of The Russell Berrie Foundation. The Fellowship program is one of the initiatives of the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue, which is a partnership launched in 2008 between the Angelicum and The Russell Berrie Foundation. The John Paul II Center initiatives aim to build bridges between Christian, Jewish and other religious traditions by providing the next generation of religious leaders with a comprehensive understanding of, and dedication to, interfaith issues.
The Russell Berrie Fellows of Cohort XII maintained a blog where they wrote about their time and unique experiences at the Angelicum, their travels to Israel and life in Rome. If you are interested to read about their individual journeys, please read their blog posts here.
To learn more about the network of the John Paul II Leaders in Interreligious Dialogue who graduated from the Fellowship Program, please visit:
- Interview with John Paul II Leader Lidiia Batig
- Interview with John Paul II Leader Taras Dzyubanskyy
- Interview with John Paul II Leader Dr. Matthew Tan
- Interview with John Paul II Leader Elena Dini
To receive regular updates about the John Paul II Center’s activities and opportunities related to interreligious dialogue, you can subscribe to the monthly newsletter here.