My name is Josipa Gasparic. It has been nine years since I arrived at Gaming to spend two semesters as a student at the Language and Catechetical Institute (LCI) in Gaming, Austria. All I brought with me from Croatia was the Bible and a heart full of fear, questions, and anger. I was almost 16 when the war started in my country. Air-raids, bombs, and people dying was something I lived with daily for two years. After, there were many refugees and poverty. Everything I was taught about God and the world seemed a lie. All my confidence and joy was gone. How could a supremely good and omnipotent God allow so much hatred and destruction? I looked for an answer everywhere. Iíve heard many good things, but the words could not satisfy or heal me. Only after a year in Gaming with the LCI did I understand why all those answers sounded to me empty. I understood that the words were not enough. I needed to see that life can be different, that Christian life must be different, and that besides words it requires also concrete deeds. This year in Gaming, I havenít only learned English, I also learned to live again.
In my group there were young people from the former Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries. We all brought with us our doubt and fears. Thanks to the great example, dedication and love of our teachers, many of us for the first time really understood the depth and beauty of the Catholic faith and its teaching. We understood that we can only change the world by changing ourselves and learning how to love and give unconditionally. My fellow students as well as teachers did not only become my friends but a family too. And, although we are scattered all around the world, we are forever grateful to our teachers and benefactors who made that year in Gaming possible for us.
Inspired by the great examples of my teachers, I have also decided to become a teacher. After that year at the LCI, I continued studying theology in Gaming. During that time I have had a privilege to know many of the LCI students and to see how they were growing in knowledge and love. For all of us the LCI program was truly a genuine experience of what John Paul II calls ďthe culture of lifeĒ.
After graduating with the Masterís in Sacred Theology, I worked for my bishop as the secretary of the Diocesan synod for a while. Afterwards I accepted a job at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, the Netherlands. There I worked as a language assistant in the Office of the Prosecutor for two years. Eventually I found answers and peace regarding all that happened during the war in Croatia, and I continued studying theology at the University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome. I shall soon graduate with a Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology and return to my home country to teach. I hope to be an inspiration to my students as my teachers in Gaming were to me.