“To Serve Means to Become a Friend” – Talking with Paola Piscitelli, President of the Sant’Egidio Community in the U.S.*

May 23, 2017


Paola Piscitelli (left) and host Maggi Van Dorn


Our Guest: 

This time on “Interfaith Matters,” Maggi talks with Paola Piscitelli, president of the Sant’Egidio Community in the United States, an international lay community in the Roman Catholic Church, with over 60 million members worldwide.



On the beginnings of community: It was started by students who were 18 and younger, who gathered to read the scripture and try to put them into practice.  Immediately, they saw that they could not say they were Christian if there were not a component of service to the poor.

On what it means to “serve”: It means to become friends with somebody.  Friendship is a commitment, it’s a ministry, it has the qualities of faithfulness, of generosity, of listening, of being present.

On the hidden poverty among the elderly:  We started visiting the elderly in nursing homes – an aspect of poverty that is hidden but growing. And, as friends of the elderly, when someone requested to go home, we didn’t ignore it, to think it was irrelevant. We started to become surrogate families and facilitate the process of going back home.

How can ordinary people practice peacebuilding: One of the most important things is to be open and curious about others, and not having a defensive attitude. In order to build peace, there is the need to meet “the other,” to have friends who are different from you, to know their tradition.  When you come to know people, to appreciate them, hatred is more difficult.

Learn more about the Sant’Egidio Community at their website http://www.santegidiousa.org/.

Paola Piscitelli can be reached at 646-765-3899 or santegidiousa@gmail.com.


*A Special Invitation


The Community of Sant’Egidio will be the recipient of the James Parks Morton Interfaith Award at the Interfaith Center of New York’s 20th Anniversary Gala on June 12.  The Community is being recognized for their leadership and humanitarianism by helping hundreds of Syrian refuges escape conflict and settle safely in Italy. Here in New York, the Community works to galvanize faith and civic leaders to advocate for human rights and immigration reform. For tickets to the Interfaith Center Gala, go to www.interfaithcenter.org, and click on 20th Anniversary. If you are unable to make the event, please consider making a donation as an anniversary gift. Donations from ICNY supporters help to make this podcast possible. 


This episode of Interfaith Matters is underwritten by One Spirit Learning Alliance – an interfaith learning institute that trains spiritual leaders and offers workshops for the public to spark personal transformation. More information is at Onespiritinterfaith.org/Matters, where our listeners can find a free download of one their teachings, “The Life We Are Called to Live.”


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