Justin Bartkus, Inaugural Rector of the Villa at Rome Global Gateway

Author: Costanza Montanari

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Justin is from South Bend and he received his Bachelor’s degree with a major in theology and a minor in peace studies in 2010. After getting a master’s degree in theological studies from Notre Dame, Justin taught high school theology and guided retreats for two fantastic years at Benet Academy, a prep school near Chicago. In July 2017, Justin agreed to become the rector of the Notre Dame Villa in Rome, which houses undergraduates studying abroad here. Among his responsibilities are establishing a ministry of presence among all Notre Dame undergraduates studying in Rome, nurturing the growth of Christian faith and community among them, and designing events that provide for the spiritual, social, and academic needs of students at the Villa.

What drew Justin to the rector position in Rome?: “When I was an undergraduate, my own semester abroad in Rome marked a definite turning point in my life, my growth into a mature citizen of the world, and my sense of how vast and endlessly fascinating the world can be. I am thrilled to accompany students at this formative point in their journey. There’s something beautiful about how vulnerable and open students can be to each other and to new opportunities during an abroad experience, maybe in ways that they are not permitted to be while on campus. I am humbled by the chance both to be the comforting, familiar face of Notre Dame for students at their ‘home away from home,’ but also to challenge them to be unafraid of discomfort or failure in embracing all that Italy has to offer. I can’t wait to draw life and energy from our students’ enthusiasm for this wonderful place.”

Justin will be sharing his role with two excellent RAs: Antonella Piccinin and Christopher Baker.

Antonella is a very lively real Roman. She graduated in Law and earned her PhD in Political Theory at LUISS Guido Carli. She is involved in different educational aspects: from establishing a personal relationship with students, to managing administrative duties and promoting spiritual life.

Chris comes from Virgina, US, and graduated from the Wyoming Catholic College in Arts and Liberal Arts. He is currently a graduate student at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. He has been a teacher and soccer coach at the Trivium Classical Academy and has worked in the residential staff at the American School of Switzerland.