News & Updates
New York Encounter 2019 will take place on February 15–17 (Presidents' Day weekend). Mark your calendar!
New York Encounter 2018: Final Statement (PDF)
Almost 11,000 people packed the Metropolitan Pavilion during the 10th edition of New York Encounter and enjoyed a weekend rich in conferences (19), shows (3), and exhibits (5), and full of encounters, good food, and smiles! But none of this could have happened without 366 volunteers coming from all over the US on their own expense to make the Encounter possible and free for everybody.
Titled “An ‘Impossible’ Unity” and faithful to its proposed theme, the 2018 Encounter aimed to explore the causes of the fragmentation we see around and within us, and discover examples of what can re-generate unity in personal and social life. The theme acknowledged that unity, although desired, seems impossible nowadays, especially when confronted with the difficulty to establish and maintain relationships rooted in a shared human experience. Nevertheless, almost refusing to give in, the Encounter ended with a question: “But what if unity is possible? How can it happen?”
Sustained by a special blessing by Pope Francis, the Encounter opened with a powerful reminder that an unimaginable unity is indeed possible. NYPD Sergeant Conor McDonald recounted the life experience of his late father Stephen, who forgave the teenager who shot him and left him paraplegic for 30 years. At the end of his witness, a question was left to the public, which accompanied the journey at the Encounter: “What happened to Stephen and his family to allow such a unity in themselves and with others, even when they hurt them?”
In the Encounter’s remaining two days, 46 guest speakers passionately engaged in one way or another with this question in subjects that ranged from economy to psychology, from art to medicine, from sociology to poetry, from politics to literature, from theology to education, from music to international development, and from cinema to history. Among them was psychologist Paul Vitz, who addressed a topic that was also witnessed in many other conferences: the presence of a true father is a key factor for unity within ourselves and, thus, with others. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, former nuncio to the U.N. in Geneva, showed how economic development has to go hand in hand with integral human development. Sculptor Etsuro Sotoo spoke about the deep relationship he can live today with Antonin Gaudi simply by “looking at what Gaudi was looking at.” Musician and Grammy Award winner Sandeep Das shared his experience with the Silk Road Ensemble and how music inspires connections. Michael Brescia, founder of the Calvary hospital, witnessed to the profound unity of his life as a scientist, entrepreneur, doctor, and husband. U.S. Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Sayeed Al Kashmiri, and Joseph Weiler, offered a Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish perspective on the relationship between God’s call and human identity as exemplified in Abraham, and gave a great example of true inter-religious dialogue. Historian Mark Lilla and sociologist Amitai Eztioni lively debated about the shared bond and ideals, if any, in today American society. Last but not least, in a panel on Dorothy Day, Timothy Cardinal Dolan offered glimpses of the unity between prayer and action that marked her life.
Throughout the weekend participants could dine at the all-volunteer staffed food court, while children could play in the Kids’ Corner or visit “Father Abraham's Tent: All Are Welcome,” an exhibit especially designed for them and their families. There were three other original exhibits that helped illustrate the weekend’s theme: on immigration, with stories of a surprising unity between immigrants and people who decided to host them, on the life and words of Dorothy Day, and a photo essay by Joseph Weiler titled ”Moments of Dignity and Places with a Soul.” After dinner the Encounter offered two original shows: on Friday, “A Single Garment of Destiny” on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.; on Saturday, “Fatherhood” a new multi-media work from Jonathan Fields and Chris Vath.
The presentation of Fr. Giussani’s biography, along with the exhibit put together by university students on his life, provided the clearest example of how an ‘impossible’ unity can come about. Introduced by Fr. Julián Carrón, and accompanied by Alberto Savorana, author of the biography, six different people poignantly shared the story of their life-changing encounter with a man who, because of his faith, became their father. And everybody in the audience could see how what the speakers held in common — the exceptional encounter with Fr. Giussani and the story that followed — was stronger than their differences in nationality, cultural and social backgrounds, age, race, sex, and even religion.
As the weekend drew to its close, Riro Maniscalco reminded us that only the encounter with a human presence who loves us at our core — that truly corresponds to us — can make us discover who we are and what we have in common with others. He closed by quoting Fr. Giussani: “This presence can be a face in the crowd, a face like all the others yet so different from the others that, on encountering it, it seems that all things are simplified. You see it for an instant and as you walk away you carry the impact of that gaze within you, as if to say: ‘I would like to see that face again.’”
New York 2018 Videos
New York Encounter 2018 videos are available. Visit our YouTube Channel and subscribe for updates as we are constantly adding videos from all the 2018 events.
Pope Francis offers good wishes to all gathered at New York Encounter
Watch New York Encounter 2018 Trailer
The New York Encounter App
An easy way to connect with the New York Encounter is our updated app, which is now available for Apple or Android devices. You can stay in the loop with Encounter events, programs, communications, and photos.
Search the App Store or Google Play Store for New York Encounter and download it for free!
New York Encounter 2018 Program and Schedule Minute by Minute; click to download PDFs
Support our 2018 New York Encounter exhibit:
Father Abraham's Tent: All Are Welcome
Father Abraham’s Tent will be an exhibit space that will introduce children to the figure of the Old Testament patriarch Abraham and his story. Through various experiences, kids and their families will learn about Abraham’s calling by Yahweh, his adventures with his wife and household as they journey through new lands and meet new peoples, and Abraham’s new understanding of himself and reality as his relationship with God grows.
The exhibit will take the form of a tent, with five areas where Abraham’s story and its meaning for us will be explored in stages. Along their journey, children will touch ancient tools, speak with costumed figures representing people that Abraham met, learn about a Russian icon representing part of Abraham’s story, and discuss the meaning of Abraham’s story for their everyday lives.
Thank you for your support!
Reception at the Residence of His Excellency Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
On September 13th, His Excellency Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, hosted a reception at his residence on behalf of New York Encounter. The event featured a dialogue between Archbishop Pierre and Mr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics, on the theme of the Encounter 2018. Click here or the image below to view some photos of the evening.
New York Encounter 2017 and 2018 in Video
New York Encounter 2017: Final Statement (PDF)
Twenty-five conferences, five exhibits, two original shows and 320 volunteers: The ninth edition of the New York Encounter was under way. Faithful to its theme — “Reality has never betrayed me,” a challenging observation that Servant of God Msgr. Luigi Giussani repeated often toward the end of his life — the 2017 Encounter did not disappoint the more than 10,500 people who crowded Manhattan’s Metropolitan Pavilion over the course of three intense days. The theme captured the fact that despite the intuition that reality bears a promise and life is fundamentally good, we seem to have a hard time relating to many of life’s aspects. This often leads to frustration, or even anger and violence. The theme ended with a question: “What can help us reconcile with reality and engage life as it is?”, and an invitation: “Join us to encounter people who, by facing the concrete circumstances of their lives, experience the positivity of reality.” Pope Francis expressed the goal of the New York Encounter in his message to the participants: It was an Encounter made of encounters! Encounters with people who witnessed to what reconciled them with the reality of their jobs, their communities, their relationships or themselves.
The Encounter was enriched by 41 guest speakers who passionately engaged with topics that ranged from economy to food, from theology to history, from sociology to science, from medicine to politics, from literature to international development. Among them were: Richard Cabral, a former gang member and now a rising TV star, who opened the Encounter with the story of his meeting with L.A.’s Jesuit Fr. Greg Boyle, a man who looked at him as no one else before ever had, and Cabral’s surrender to this encounter; or Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York, who witnessed to his admiration and love for St. Damien of Molokai, who lived two centuries ago, and for another “modern” saint, the quadriplegic NYPD Officer Stephen McDonald, who (though not yet canonized) passed away just three days before speaking at the Encounter; or Polly Matzinger, the internationally known immunologist, who showed how faithfulness to reality as it emerges in experience is the method of true scientific research, and ended up dancing barefoot with the volunteers at the final concert; or Fr. Julián Carrón who, conversing with Joseph Weiler on Carrón’s soon-to-be-released book Disarming Beauty (University of Notre Dame Press) explained why beauty does not betray, and stated that in our divided society “it can be a bridge because it is contagious, respects freedom, and is enough to move the human heart”; or The New York Times editorialist David Brooks, who spoke about the “need to have public places where things that really matter can be finally discussed” and wished that there could be more New York Encounters!
During all of this, young children played in the Kids’ Corner and people dined at the all-volunteer staffed food court. They could also visit one of the four original exhibits that helped illustrate the weekend’s theme: photography, with photos presented by their photographers, including Tony Vaccaro; education, with an interesting comparison between pedagogical theories in the United States and the educational method proposed by Msgr. Giussani; the lives of some American Saints; a multimedia presentation of stories of people who were not betrayed by reality, because “there is a crack in everything and that’s how light gets in.”
After dinner the Encounter offered two original shows: on Friday, “Shadow and Sound: The Journey of Helen Keller,” a stage performance about “an encounter that neither deafness nor blindness could impede”; on Saturday, “Invasion 14: the Prisoner, the Priest” a work by Christopher Vath for narrator, violin, cello and piano set in the squalid WWI prison of the Maxence Van Der Meersch novel.
As the Encounter drew to its close, Fr. Vincent Nagle reminded us that it is through a human encounter that we can reconcile with reality and learn how to engage with life. He added that the most surprising effect of this re-engagement is that we feel more acutely life’s promise and the nostalgia for its fulfillment. We find ourselves with more questions, and we desire more intensely and with less fear to reach out and risk in our relationships.
If the people who spent time at the Metropolitan Pavilion felt the same, we can say that the Encounter itself was an experience of reconciliation with life. Understanding why and how it happened, and exploring the source of the joy that was so palpable during those days, remains an intriguing task for the future for all those who organized or attended the Encounter.
"It’s Not Just Three Days" - Stories from the New York Encounter
Listen to Something Revealed's latest podcast on the New York Encounter. Six friends from all corners of the USA talk about their experience after attending the Encounter.