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Acton University 2021 concluded with a live-streamed “in-person” lecture and interview with Rev. Robert Sirico. The event was broadcast from Acton’s auditorium in Grand Rapids, Mich. During Sirico’s address, he waxed nostalgically about the past and Acton’s efforts since its founding in 1990 to articulate a free and virtuous society to people worldwide. Sirico noted how inspiring it has been to witness the intellectual blossoming in individuals across the globe through this cultural activism and many public debates.

Later, Sirico highlighted Jimmy Lai, the Catholic, Hong Kong-based media mogul currently in a Chinese prison for his outspoken criticism of the Communist Party. For Sirico, Lai is a person who has real integrity with regard to the timeless principles of liberty and perfectly knows the consequences of remaining faithful to them.

Sirico’s last advice was to stay strong and united as an Acton family despite the isolation brought on by the ongoing pandemic. Such fortitude and solidarity, he said, is developed through “a rich interior life, [just] like Jimmy’s.”Prayerful discernment and an intimate relationship with the Creator of our human dignity, according to Sirico, are sure ways to grow in not only optimism but also “real theological hope” based on trust in God’s Providence. It was with this same theological hope that he ended, promising participants a return to the in-person edition of Acton University in 2022 while retaining some of the best online offerings for those who cannot travel to Michigan.

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Michael Severance earned his B.A. in philosophy and humane letters from the University of San Francisco, where he also studied at the university's St. Ignatius Institute, a great books program. He then pursued his linguistic studies in Salamanca, Spain where he obtained his Advanced Diploma in Spanish from Spain's Ministry of Education before obtaining his M.A. in Philosophy and Modern Languages from the University of Oxford.