Open to Love: Agape Latte with Sabina Petillo

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BY EMILY HELLDORFER

STAFF REPORTER

On Feb. 15, Campus Ministry hosted their most recent installment of Agape Latte, “Open to Love,” in the dining area of Linda’s.

The event featured guest speaker Dr. Sabina Petillo, wife of Sacred Heart University President Dr. John Petillo.

Taking place twice a semester, Agape Latte is a coffeehouse speaker series for students to hear personal stories of the intersection of faith and everyday life.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to come out and hear somebody that they’ve seen on campus, hear more about their story, and how their faith has impacted their life,” said Campus Minister Devon McCormick.

The series originated at Boston University about 10 years ago, and was brought to Sacred Heart last year. Along with Campus Ministry, the event was also hosted by the Agape Latte leadership board.

According to McCormick, Agape Latte serves a unique purpose to the University.

“Every college campus is looking for a way to reach the community as a whole. I think Agape Latte serves to unite all the little pockets of the university,” she said.

The event began with free coffee, tea and baked goods. There was also a half hour of live music before a moment of silence for the victims of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

After a quick round of trivia with prizes, Petillo was introduced and a brief history of her career as a medical physician was given. She attended medical school in Rome, where she was able to connect with her Catholic faith.

“I am excited and humbled to be invited to be a part of a program that invites someone from the community to share their spiritual experience or journey in a casual and welcoming setting,” she said.

Agape Latte speakers are chosen by the students.

“We look at who the student body is impacted by, who they look up to, and who they want to hear from,” said McCormick.

“Mrs. Petillo is so genuine and I think the student body as a whole wants to know more about her,” she said.

Petillo spoke about her experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, and how it allowed her faith to grow deeper.

“I found Mrs. Petillo’s story powerful, and a good reminder to be thankful for the people in your life,” said senior Annie Fang.

Mrs. Petillo made a point to highlight the importance of faith and a good support system during hard times.

“I told myself I’m not just going to wallow, I’m going to stand up and hold God’s hand to get through this,” she said. “I know I’m not alone. Aspects of my journey made me open to and embrace love.”

Students found Mrs. Petillo’s speech to be inspirational and a true testament to her strength as a person.

“This gave me a better idea about the kind of person Mrs. Petillo is,” said senior Shannon Guerin. “Before this, I had no idea of what she had gone through.”

Overall, her discussion gave students an opportunity to reflect on their own lives, and the importance of kindness.

“There is one point that is important to remember, and that point is never to forget,” said Petillo. “Never forget the gift of life and the kindness of others.”

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