News & Updates

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.


Pope Francis sends cordial greetings and prayerful good wishes to all assembled for the New York Encounter.


Steven McDonald (March 1,1957 - January 10, 2017) Rest in Peace

NYPD Detective Steven McDonald had no bitterness towards the teen who shot him three times in Central Park, and nearly killed him. The first bullet hit him in the head, above his eye; the second hit his throat and caused him to have a speaking disability; and the third shattered his spine, paralyzing him from the neck down and leaving him quadriplegic and in need of a ventilator. In spite of all this, Steven was still able to affirm, “There is more love in this city than there are street corners.” It was this same love, in this same city, that Steven was willing to share with us in a presentation titled “Never Lose Infinite Hope.” We will honor his memory at the beginning of the event he so graciously accepted to be part of.

"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.

Raffle & Silent Auction

The New York Encounter is excited to offer something new to visitors this year: a silent auction. Please take this opportunity to bid on and possibly acquire several rare, high-quality, exciting, even delicious (!) items to enjoy or to give as gifts. You’ll find the auction items in the main plaza area of the ground floor. Other booths are there as well where you can purchase raffle tickets, make donations, purchase NY Encounter souvenirs, and purchase tickets for the Saturday evening performance. Visit often during the weekend. All donations are tax deductible and help make New York Encounter possible.

The raffle winning numbers will be posted as they are drawn.

The New York Encounter App

The New York Encounter app is live in the Apple App Store and in the Google Play store (Android's app store)! This means that anyone can download the app today via those means on their mobile device. Simply search "New York Encounter" in the respective app store and you'll find the Encounter's 'X' icon there for you to download.

Support the Exhibit

Please consider contributing to the fundraising effort to help cover the expenses associated with building the exhibit Education: Discovering the Promise of Reality.

Click here to make online donation.

Reality Has Never Betrayed Me. A sneak peek at the upcoming 2017 New York Encounter.

New York Encounter 2016: Final Statement

8,500 attendees, 23 conferences, 6 exhibits, 2 original shows, and the 7th edition New York Encounter was underway. The theme of this annual three‐day cultural event, Longing for the Sea and yet [Not] Afraid, drawn from Edgar Lee Masters’ poem George Grey, reflected the optimism and boldness with which one who has his desire intact, enters life. In a world which, as John Waters noted in the final event of the Encounter, bears more doubt then faith, where “the din of the outside…dampens our heart so that we cannot feel it, it is important that we get
this circuitry going again;” that we come together and are reminded to see and hear things new again...

Download full document (PDF).

Poetry Contest 2017

The contest is now closed.

New York Encounter is sponsoring a poetry contest to celebrate the theme of its 2017 event. The Encounter is an annual three-day public cultural event in the heart of New York City. It strives to witness to the new life and knowledge generated by the faith, following Pope Benedict’s claim that “the intelligence of faith has to become the intelligence of reality.” Click here for more information.