29 June 2009

Sts. Peter and Paul

You might think that I would have a lot to report today, being in Rome on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, but I really don't. Heat and fatigue finally caught up with me, and I have had to take a "down" day.

One of the benefits that I have received from this trip has been an even greater appreciation for my "day job" back at Vanderbilt. I love it. (I just have to figure out a way to pay for it!) I feel that I am in one of those places where the New Springtime of the Ancient Faith in the Lord Jesus is budding out in really beautiful ways! I thank God and Bishop Choby for letting me be a part of it!

27 June 2009

Wifi, finally!

We are spending our last days at far and away the best residence we have been in. It even has wifi! Until this trip I didn't realize how addicted I had become to internet access. This place also has a full-size twin size bed. A bathroom not down the hall and with an almost normal sized shower. This is living!

Oh, and did I mention a terrace overlooking St. Peter's Square?

26 June 2009

Awesome, but tiring

I realize that to say that I am tired sounds very ungrateful. I am trying to soak up everything that I can -- and that's a lot! Today we are going to the Mass for the feast of St. Josemaria Escriva celebrated by the Prelate of Opus Dei, whom we may meet. On Saturday, we will be attending Vespers at S. Paolo celebrated by Pope Benedict that will close the Pauline Year. And on Monday, we will be going to the Pallium Mass at St. Peter's. In the midst of all that sweetness, however, I have to see to getting tickets, to keeping up with the seminarians (I think I am in the right place being in a university rather than in a seminary!), to getting us moved to another residence, etc. I am sure that come July 4, I will be ready to return to my more austere but happier life in Nashville!

23 June 2009

Catch up

This post will have to be the "travelogue" variety -- there is so much to say and so little time to say it. I will be catching a train this morning to go back to Rome to resume my time with the "Rome Experience" after my break to come to Pollone and Turin to see the sites associated with Bl. Pier Giorgio and to meet some of his family.

On Saturday, before leaving Rome, the seminarians and priests of the Rome Experience met with Archbishop Raymond Burke, the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura -- basically the Church's Supreme Court. Archbishop Burke has just recently come back to Rome from St. Louis. He was very gracious as well as very informative. (I think that I learned more canon law in that brief time than I had in seminary!) He is a real champion of the faith, and it was an honor to be with him. He is also a very warm and gentle man.

In the afternoon, I got on a train to come to Pollone, the site of the Frassati summer home. Other than having a train cancelled in Milan, the trip was uneventful. I was picked up at the station in Biella by Wanda, Bl. Pier Giorgio's niece with whom I had had lunch in Rome the previous Saturday. She brought me to Pollone and the Frassati home, where I have been staying. It is a surreal experience in a way. I will go into more details when I can.

On Sunday morning, I went with the family and Chris Wohar, the director of Frassati USA, to the dedication of a Pier Giorgio trail in the mountains of the Val d'Aosta. These trails exist in almost every region of Italy. It was incredibly beautiful! Mass was celebrated on the mountain -- a true Frassati experience. Then there was a lunch for all involved back down the trail in a little village.

In the afternoon, Wanda, Chris, and I went to Turin. We first visited the Cathedral, where the Shroud is, to visit Bl. Pier Giorgio's tomb. We also visited a number of churches that have some role in his life. We also visited the church of St. John Bosco -- and had an interlude there when we thought that we had lost the car keys!

Monday was spent seeing Pollone and going to the sanctuary of Oropa, an ancient and beautiful Marian shrine in the mountains where Bl. Pier Giorgio often went when he was in Pollone. Last evening, there was the Mass I posted about earlier and then a long dinner and conversation with the family members here. Amazing.

22 June 2009


This is a very quick and incomplete post, but I just had an amazing experience. I just said Mass next to the bed in which Bl. Pier Giorgio died. I am visiting in the Frassati villa in Pollone. Present for the Mass were three of his nieces, a great nephew, and the great nephew's twin sons -- great great nephews of Bl. Pier Giorgio. I sort of wonder if it really happened! I will post again letting you know what I have been up to, including my experiences in Turin and Pollone, as well as Rome!

18 June 2009

Year of the Priesthood

The year of the priesthood begins tomorrow on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. We are going to attend the vespers at St. Peter's that will kick off the year. I ask for your prayers for priests and for the young men preparing to be priests that we have the heart of the Lord Jesus -- pure and generous. I'll let you know how it goes.

16 June 2009

End of the Year

While I am in Rome, I am also trying to keep up with my "day job" back at Vanderbilt, part of which is raising all of the money for everything we do! We receive no diocesean or university funding for any of our activities, staff, or programs. So if you like what you see going on here, please hit the "DONATE" button at www.vanderbiltcatholic.org or send a check soon to: 2417 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37240! We are coming up on the end of our fiscal year, and we need your help to make it! It is that serious and important.

15 June 2009


On Saturday morning, I said Mass for the Nashville Dominican sisters who are studying here in Rome. About 10 of the seminarians went along, and the good sisters gave us breakfast -- including orange juice! We drank them out of house and home with orange juice!

Later in the morning we had an appointment with Cardinal Arinze. (He had just been to the Diocese Nashville for a conference held in a Tennessee Walking Horse arena in Shelbyville. I was the Master of Ceremonies for the Mass there. I guess that this visit in Rome was the God's pay back for that extraordinary event!) Cardinal Arinze received us in his apartment, which overlooks St. Peter's Square. He could not have been more gracious or generous. It was evident that the seminarians had a great time, and I believe that the Cardinal did too.

Then I went to have lunch with the niece of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati! That was also awesome. I am more convince than ever that Bl. Pier Giorgio is the patron for campus ministry.

I guess that's pretty good for one weekend! Ciao.

12 June 2009

Corpus Christi Procession

Last night I had an incredible experience at the Pope's Corpus Christi (or Corpus Domini, as they call it here) procession. For the first time, I saw the Pope not as the head of the universal Church but as the Bishop of Rome. The procession for all its size is really very homey. All sorts of guilds and orders participate. The Pope is loaded up in the back of a pick up truck (a very nicely decorated pick up truck -- but a pick up truck none the less) and kneels there in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from St. John Lateran to St. Mary Major. It is all in the open. People, including me, rush along to keep with Jesus and the Pope. I was really very childish pushing my way along! When the Pope gets to St. Mary Major, he gets down and offers Benediction. As the crowd repeated the Divine Praises after the Pope in Italian, I saw him as their Bishop whom they love as their own. It was an awesome experience.

11 June 2009

Catching Up

Wow. Time goes by fast. We are settling into more of a routine, and my social life is picking up! It is a small world. I just had lunch with Fr. David Carter of the Diocese of Knoxville and another Tennessean. It was my first long and leisurely Roman pranzo. The glories of the three Grand Divisions were extolled. (If you don't know what that means, you are not a Tennessean.)

Tomorrow, I am meeting up with a priest from Alabama. Saturday, it's Mass and breakfast with the Nashville Dominican sisters who are studying here in Rome and lunch with the niece of Bl. Pier Giorgio, etc. Despite the fun of all of this, I am actually eager to get back to work in Nashville!

I have had time to squeeze in seeing the Holy Father. We went to the general audience yesterday, and this evening we are going to the Corpus Christi procession. I'll keep you posted.

08 June 2009

Over the Weekend

Well, I actually have good internet access only during the week at the university where the seminarians' classes are held. It is not open on the weekend, and the place we are staying is not too high tech. Anyhow we are keeping pretty busy.

On Saturday, we visited St. Paul's Outside the Walls and celebrated Mass there. That was a first for me there. We continued the Pauline theme by visiting Tre Fontane, the site of St. Paul's martyrdom. I had also not been there before. Both places were very busy with pilgrims closing out the Pauline Year.

On Sunday, we went to see the Roman ruins at Ostia Antica, the ancient port city of Rome. I usually don't get much out of ruins, but these were very pleasant. There is also the association with St. Monica, who died in Ostia. We said the rosary in the ruins of the Christian basilica where she likely attended Mass with St. Augustine.

This morning we visited the Lateran -- the cathedral of the Pope, including it's baptistry and the Scala Sancta. We also went to Santa Croce down the street to see the relics of the True Cross that St. Helena found and brought back from Jerusalem.

Sorry for the brief travelogue, but I am actually keeping busy on this trip and so time is pretty tight!

05 June 2009

In Rome for a Month

Well, we are here! And I think that I will have better internet connection and can post more. We are getting on a more regular schedule.

This morning we had Mass in St. Peter's, which is always a thrill for me, even though I have celebrated Mass there a number of times. Yesterday, the seminarians all had a tour of the Scavi underneath the Basilica and got to see the bones of St. Peter at the end. Our guide was a seminarian at the North American College from the Diocese of Tyler, TX. He did a great job.

I will fill you in more as I have time!

02 June 2009

On to Rome

Sorry for the light blogging. I have been helping to lead a retreat for the seminarians for the last several days in Norcia, the birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica. Today the seminarians and the other priest have gone to Assisi, and I have stayed behind to get some work done! The monks of Norcia have provided me with a room and an internet connection -- that's hospitality!

So we go on to Rome tomorrow. At first there is a good bit of touring, but classes also begin for the seminarians. I'll let you how it's going.