The Community of Sant’Egidio (www.santegidiousa.org) began in Rome in 1968 with a group of high school students who wanted to take the Gospel more seriously. Today it is a movement consisting of over 40,000 Christian laypeople in more than 60 countries throughout the world. The Vatican has officially recognized the Community of Sant’Egidio as a public lay association. Prayer, solidarity, friendship, peace, ecumenism, and interreligious dialogue are central to the life of the Community. The services of each Community around the world develop through the fostering of intimate friendships with the poor, elderly, immigrants, and children who are our neighbors in the cities in which we live. Not only have Communities been tearing down the walls of prejudice, fear, and loneliness that separate us from one another within our own cities, but many Communities throughout the world have also realized dreams of friendship across international borders. Friendship, always at the starting point, has led to a peace agreement to cease civil war in Mozambique and to Project DREAM, an HIV/AIDS treatment program in sub-Saharan Africa. Communities have entered prison cells to discover a lasting hope and friendship that radiate past locked doors. Friendship with prison inmates has also led the Community to strongly oppose the death penalty. Communities throughout the world have set up Schools of Peace wherever children need a safe place to learn, to build friendships and strong foundations for peace.
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