New prayers and meditation room


Institutional Communication Service

14 February 2022

A quiet place where everyone can take time to pray, meditate and reflect, leaving the daily noise behind. The university offers a new space on the Lugano campus to students, professors, and staff. One or more chaplains will regularly propose activities to the academic community.

Spiritual and emotional wellbeing are essential elements in everyday life, even in the university. For this reason, starting from the beginning of this academic year, USI will offer a "prayers and meditation room" open to the university community regardless of their cultural and religious orientation. In the Swiss university context, the Chaplaincies (in French are called Aumônerie, in German Seelsorge, and in Italian cappellanìe) are open to the academic community to take care of their spiritual needs. The designated space will be in classroom 151B of the main building and accessible every day from 8 am to 8 pm. Don Kamil Cielinski, the co-parish priest of the Basilica del Sacro Cuore in Lugano, who will be in charge of the project, tells us about the initiative.


What is the purpose of this initiative?

"USI was the only Swiss university not to offer such a space, so we have filled a gap. The purpose of the initiative is to have a space that welcomes everyone. USI is open to everyone, but it lacked a space to be alone, in silence, to be able to think, pray and meditate and not be judged by others."  


What activities will be carried out within this space?

"The classroom is a small, quiet space, suitable for reflection and meditation and inviting inner peace. However, the activities that will take place will be different: the schedule of the events is still a work in progress. In other Swiss universities, masses and moments of prayer, guided meditations, meetings and discussion, listening and support activities, Gospel choirs, guided tours, group excursions, conferences and workshops, or even moments of sports are often organised. But, of course, it all depends on the students and their needs. Now and then, a student needs to talk to someone, and that's one of the purposes of the initiative."


Who manages this space?

"University Chaplaincies in Switzerland are mainly of the Christian Catholic or Reformed tradition. Usually, the reference figure is a priest or a pastor who exercises pastoral care. The chaplaincy will initially host representatives of the Reformed Church and the Muslim Community of Lugano. We are there for you for everything, don't be afraid to contact us and don't be alarmed when you see us in the corridors of USI".


We asked Lorenzo Cantoni, Pro-Rector for Education and Students' experience at USI, how this new service fits into existing offerings?

"Università della Svizzera italiana has always been very sensitive to the overall well-being of its academic community. Just think of the renewed and expanded dining service on the Lugano campuses, the activities of the Sport service, or the recent USI in ascolto (USI is listening), the individual support space run by people with specific training in psychology. The University Chaplaincy is a further piece of this mosaic: it is dedicated to the spiritual accompaniment of students, faculty, researchers and staff members."