On 12 October, our university concluded its 30th anniversary celebrations with an international conference. The event, held in the main chamber of the Parliament, was attended by a full house, the venue being a symbolic reference to the decision taken by the Parliament on 1 October 1993 to codify the founding of the University.
The conference was opened by the Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary, László Kövér, who stressed the importance of restoring and maintaining the harmony of faith and intellect. He stressed that throughout Hungarian history, the protection of the Christian soul has been the shield with which we have been able to preserve ourselves, "that we wanted to hear and to make God heard". He added that it is thanks to the Reformation and the Bible translator Gáspár Károli that we can proclaim and hear the word of God in our mother tongue, which has served the Hungarian people as a force for national preservation throughout history. "For all of this, we owe eternal respect to Gáspár Károli and thanks to all those who keep his spiritual legacy alive", he added.
Bishop Zoltán Balog, the pastoral president of the Synod of the Reformed Church in Hungary, sees the task of the Reformed University as primarily to make people aware of the life rooted in Christ. All the disciplines taught at the university seek and search for life, the life that is most fully found in Christ. The mission of the University is to transmit the message of Jesus Christ as a true programme of life, in the unity of body, soul and spirit. The thirty-year history of Károli University shows that the faithful decisions of its founding fathers have proved to be lasting, and that the University can continue to serve the community in the future, building on the unity of faith and knowledge, and on the knowledge that is responsibly exercised.
In his welcome address, Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, emphasised that the faithful teaching and research of secular sciences is an extraordinary challenge for the entire university community. The situation of the ecclesiastical universities in Hungary is unique: the fact that these religiously committed universities are publicly funded and run as public institutions is unparalleled in the world. He added that the operation of religious universities is a common cause for all of us, and he wished the 30-year-old Károli Gáspár Reformed University every success and blessing in this service and task.
Balázs Hankó, Minister of State for Innovation and Higher Education, Ministry of Culture and Innovation, stressed that the new university model, which preserves and shapes values, remains firmly grounded in Christian culture, and universities are laboratories of hope with a mission. In an era of the spread of artificial intelligence, we need to cling to our communities, because without a soul, nothing is of value. Students are pilgrims of knowledge, active participants in university life. The government is providing the resources needed to develop the campus of the 30-year-old university, because within its walls, which are being built and renewed, value is being created that will serve the whole nation.
The international conference featured a presentation by Shirley J. Roels, Executive Director of the International Network for Christian Higher Education (INCHE), entitled Forming and Teaching the Whole Christian Story. In her speech, she stressed that church and education complement each other: the church shapes hearts' commitment to God, and the Christian university expands the scope of faith. He added that the Christian university cannot be Christian without relying on the committed hearts formed by the church; while the church must rely on the Christian university to increase understanding, knowledge and skills. The university's task is to explore with its students the fundamental questions of human identity and purpose. And alongside education that reveals our being, it must also promote education in the knowledge of the whole created universe, for only in this way can the mandate to care for this world properly be fulfilled. She added that Christian higher education should take into account that those who leave university should be prepared for ministry and leadership in the Church and in society. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the University, she said that Károli Gáspár Reformed University is a bridge to a changing world, through which the University has the opportunity and responsibility to teach our students that the world we live in belongs to God, and that we all belong to Jesus Christ in body and soul. Our graduates can prepare themselves for a life of purpose, becoming lifelong Christian learners who can serve God and people, and their fellow human beings in their relationships with one another.
Christiaan Alting von Geusau, Professor of Philosophy of Law and Education, former rector of the ITI Catholic University in Austria, addressed the community on The Relation between Faith and Education. In exploring the relationship between faith and education, he first spoke about how a living faith in education enables an encounter with Jesus Christ and at the same time facilitates the revelation of the Creator's love and truth. For the essence of education is to make known what it means to be human, to reveal what is still hidden as a seed. The mission of the educators is to bring the hidden seeds to the surface, to foster the growth of the disciple, as a result of which the students will find their purpose in life. The faith that comes through education allows hearts to be opened, to make visible things that we did not know existed before. The point of education is to create receptive hearts: this mission for life requires much wisdom and a relationship with God, since the message is man himself. In the words of the Catholic writer Stratford Caldecott:
“You cannot communicate a truth that has not changed you. You cannot build a community on a truth that has not been incorporated into you, making you the kind of person you are. The person is, to some extent, the message.”
He concluded by saying that education is the art of learning how to live in harmony with God the Creator's plan for the benefit of humanity.
In his closing speech, Rector László Trócsányi said that Károli University has a dual mission: to teach both the divine and the human word. He emphasized that as a religious university, we must create opportunities for encounter with God. "If we can provide this, then everyone can make a free will decision about how much they can take those we represent into their hearts," Rector stressed. He also added that "We are not a university that is neutral in terms of worldview, and this is a given for a religious university. Our Christian faith sets the framework for our teaching. We must perpetuate our values and culture by renewing them. In a globalised, digitalised world that proclaims the omnipotence of the individual, it is not easy to find our way. Value is often replaced by worthlessness, evidence are questioned, concepts such as marriage, family, home become secondary. Károli preserves what must be preserved, teaches love and respect for human dignity. We believe it is important that young people leave our University who feel and know that they have a responsibility for their immediate environment and for our country". As for the University's mission, he said that "in addition to the enrichment of knowledge, it is therefore the responsibility of teaching to preserve and transmit the spirit and culture and to forge talent. In this way, teaching can become a vital force for local and national communities, drawing on the pride of the past to meet the challenges of the future".
At the conference, Eszter Göbölösné Gaál, a church musician and lecturer of the Faculty of Theology, performed the verses of Psalms 25 and 42 of Geneva.
The whole conference can be watched at the link below: