Dave from Charleston covered the Church for today as well. He has a really cool link posted where you can take a virtual tour of the Basilica. Check it out: BROTHER IN ROME
Also here is a picture from this past week.
Me and Andrew Hart of Little Rock, AR. In the red jacket is Father Rust--grew up in Mobile, AL but just this summer was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Memphis, TN. The tall guy next to him is Marco Pieri. Marco is actually from my home parish in Montgomery, AL called Church of the Holy Spirit. Marco is here with Auburn University's Architecture program for the spring semester. I found out he was here from two other of the Alabama seminarians here. They were standing and chatting outside of Mass at a Church in a nearby neighborhood. Marco was at the same Mass and heard them talking and just had to ask, "Hey are ya'll from the South?" Small World hunh!?
The guy to his right is a classmate from Atlanta named Mike. Hopefully they will be able to come visit us soon at our College.
Here is an article that the Catholic News Agency recently published about the Station Churches.
Also, here is link to our College's website which will show you the entire Lenten Schedule for Station Churches as well as a link to a book written by a NAC seminarian about the Station Churches.
OK. Now I would like to change gears a bit and share some about a good friend that I met in Rome at the beginning of last year--Edmond.
Sometime last fall, I went to a soup kitchen to help out one evening with a group of seminarians from our College. At this particular soup kitchen, there were several other volunteers--some Religious Sisters but mostly lay men and women. As we started to help prepare the tables for that evening's guests, I started to chat with another volunteer.
Assuming he was Italian, I started off in Italian which provoke a very disturbed look on his face. Quickly he asked me, "Father, may we please speak in English?" Laughing and relieved at the same time, as my Italian was still pretty poor at the time, I said, "Sure." Quickly I found out that his name was Edmond and that he was from Syria. His Godfather was Italian and was also volunteering there that night. After getting down the basics, Edmond asked me, "Father, may I tell you something?"
[Quick note: We always wear clerics when we leave the College for School or for our Apostolates (Ministerial work) which makes many think we are priests. But it is an old Roman tradition that all seminarians in Rome wear clerics, so we keep it up.]
I responded, "Sure. No problem. But just so you know...I am not a priest."
Edmond: "I don't care Father."
Edmond: "I must tell you. You look just like my hero!"
Me: "Hahahaha. Really!? Now, who is that?"
Edmond: "GEORGE BUSH!!!"
Me: "You have got to be kidding me?! Is this some kind of joke? Are you messing with me?"
[Note: This was shocking to me because since I have been abroad I have realized that George Bush is....well...let's just say not the most loved man around.]
Edmond: "No. This is no joke. I love this man. He prays to the God. He is so great. He loves God. He is so great for me!"
Me: (still incredulous) "Hahahaha. Wow. This is shocking. You are the first person I have met in Italy to say something like that."
Edmond: "I am serious. Look a this!"
With that, Edmond pulled out his cell phone to show me George Bush smiling back at me from his screensaver! Hahahahaha! It was too much! Still Edmond continued, "I have so many pictures of George Bush on my computer at home. All of my friends and family think I am crazy...but I do not care. I love this man. It is my dream to meet him. I also once dreamed of meeting Princess Diana, but she is dead now. So George Bush is my last hope. But now I meet you!!! And you look just like him! I am so blessed! This is so great!!!"
Me: "Hahahaha! Well, I'm happy to meet you too. Maybe one day we can both hang out with George Bush together and take some pictures?"
Edmond: "O Father, that would be so great!"
Soooo....needless to say, we really hit it off. We worked side-by-side for the rest of the evening and after a little while he introduced me to his Godfather. As it was time for us to part ways, Edmond had another question--"Father Victor."
Me: "You know I am not a priest."
Edmond: "I really don't care."
Me: "OK. Haha. Go ahead."
Edmond: "May I ask you one more thing."
Me: "Sure Edmond. Whatever you want."
Edmond: "Father, may I please give you my cellular telephone number?"
Me: "Hahahaha. Sure Edmond. That would be great."
So, ever since then I have kept Edmond's number, written on a torn-off piece of paper napkin in my desk drawer. Since then we have become good friends. Last spring, he helped me cook a really nice dinner for about 30 people when my Mom, little sister, and good friend Colleen Murphy came to visit!!!
Before going on, I think we should pause and do a quick compare and contrast:
I don't know. What do ya'll think???
Edmond lives just outside of Rome with his two brothers Rami and Sam in costal town called Ladispoli. Just after exams I had a couple days free and was able to go and visit them. They really are the best of people and treat me just like I am their brother. It was a great chance to catch up with them as well as just relax, be with non-seminarians, and spend a couple days in someone's house.
Edmond and his brothers, by trade, are seamen. Edmond and his youngest brother Sam are professionally trained naval engineers and Rami is a trained naval mechanic. There is a big port in Rome called Civita Vecchia. Because of this, all three of them progressively moved to Rome so that they could easily be contracted by various shipping companies in need of such services. Earlier this fall, a larger company bought out the smaller company they were working for, and they subsequently lost their jobs.
Since then, only Edmond has been able to find a job. He now works at a Pizza/Mid-Eastern Food Restaurant washing dishes, preparing food, and serving customers. When I visited, Edmond had to work most of the time, so I ended up spending a lot of time working at the restaurant.
The restaurant is owned and run by Deigo (his Italian name), an Iranian man, his Ukrainian wife Olga, and their son Alex. They have two more children--Denise and Dariush. A Romanian girl named Mikiella also works there as well as an Indian guy named Rajib. And recall that Edmond is Syrian. The working environment I would describe as....ECLECTIC to say the least!!!
Everyone working there is just getting by in life...materially. But they are happy people and very generous with what they have. Deigo, the owner, for example, gives Edmond and his brothers all of the food they want each day without any extra charge. Too, they fed me really well while I was there, refusing to accept any money for anything. It was a real refreshment to spend a couple days with them.
Before leaving, Deigo invited me to come back anytime and offered to prepare a special me for me and my friends for a good price if we ever wanted. This immediately gave me an idea.
I knew that this Saturday, we had our first Clericus Cup game coming up. The Clericus Cup was started about 5 years ago by the Vatican in collaboration with an Italian sports agency. What emerged was a soccer tournament in Rome amongst all of the different National and Religious Seminaries in Rome. It has grown in popularity each year, receiving press all around the world. It is like a Mini-Clerical World Cup!!! We have participated each year and went to the finals last year, losing to the two time Champions in a close game 1-0.
I am one of the Captains for our team this year. Along with our coaches, we had been trying to think of a good way to kick off the season. When Deigo offered to fix a nice meal, I thought, "Perfect! Post-Game Party!"
Normally the College rents a big bus to take us to the Clericus Cup games and back. So I asked the Rector if we could extend the reservation until about 4 PM. He generously agreed and helped me to arrange everything. Too I talked to Diego and Edmond and they agreed to prepare a big Mid-Eastern meal for 50 people!!!
Throughout the week, we had guys sign up to take the bus to Ladispoli (about a 30 minute drive outside Rome) for the Post-Game/Clericus Cup Opener BASH! We were, indeed, able to get 50 people to sign up...and even more importantly...we WON our first game against the Brazilians in a shoot out! The Catholic News Agency wrote an article on this game which you can find HERE.
I must pause here and mention our fans. They are incredible. Led by some of my closest friends from AL and LA, our College has really brought the American Fan Spirit to Rome! Deacon Peter Finney of New Orleans formally organized a Booster Club this year which has been working hard to get the house excited and involved in the Clericus Cup this year. He helped me to organize this big Post-Game Bash for example. Too he has spear headed the acquisition of many hilarious costumes to be worn by our fans at the games. Now it is common place to find Captain America, Batman, Elvis, WWII soldiers, and other American heroes at our games!!!! Too this year, Peter had pocket schedules made of all our games for the entire house. Their efforts have really brought a great spirit to the house of fraternity, collaboration, and unity.
One more thing about Peter....when I had the idea for the Post-Game Bash I immediately found him to see what he thought. He liked the idea and quickly it began to take shape. In discussing the idea I explained meeting Edmond and the story I recounted above. Peter was dying laughing when I told him about the George Bush thing...especially because he had just seen a bunch of George Bush masks in a costume shop the other day when he was looking for "Fan Gear."
Long story short, all of us showed up to the Post-Game Bash wearing George Bush masks which Edmond loved to say the least!!!
All things considered, Saturday was a special day for everyone involved. I had a few moments to spend with Deigo and Edmond alone at the Party. We were all so happy. Deigo commented that is was just amazing that we were all together...celebrating life as we were---Americans, Iranians, Ukrainians, Indians, Romanians, Catholics, Orthodox, Muslims. I will never forget that. Such is the Power of the LOVE of God. When we embrace it....all boundaries vanish...along with all hate, division, pride, and anger. Amazing...really amazing....
Here are some pictures from all of this....
Jimmy again. Getting some air. Putting his head to use...
Does this make you feel American or what?
After the big Win! Victory tastes O so Sweet!
Batman and Captain America of course....hahahhaahaha
Me introducing the George Bush masks to everyone on the bus.
Part of our Crew at the bash.
THIS WEEK'S LINKS:
Here is a link to several different books written by Saints. Someone has turned several of these Spiritual Classics into PDF files.
Here is another link to a feature on the Clericus Cup posted on our College's Web Page. My buddy Jeff Starkovich from Lake Charles, LA runs this site. He told me that he will be posting pictures and articles about the Clericus Cup as the season progresses.
*Check out this video on the Cup. Another hilarious yet profound creation by Peter Finney--- Booster Club extraordinaire.
Official Site of the Clericus Cup: CLERICUS CUP
*One of the articles rotating on the page (from page load to page load it varies) is called "Il Sogno Americano" which means "The American Dream"
NEXT SUNDAY'S GOSPEL:
Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,
but becoming fully awake,
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,
“Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
They fell silent and did not at that time
tell anyone what they had seen.
Alright Ya'll, Have a great week!
Stay tuned for the Daily Station Church Posts.
Let's keep praying for one another. And as always, hit me with an email if you have a specific prayer intention. Even if I don't reply for a couple days, know that I check my email every day and include all of the prayer requests.
PEACE AND JOY!!!!