Monthly Archives

October 2009


Ca$h Money

Here we are beginning the 2nd week of full classes. I’m beginning to find routine and rhythm, both of life at Bernardi, and studies at the Angelicum. We’ve had a recent cold spell, and this morning’s walk to class was quite chilly. Almost as though we’re back in St. Paul! It’s getting close to dinner time, as I write this. It’s interesting to observe how all of us have adjusted to the later dinner time of Italy. Restaurants here don’t typically open til 8pm, and our community dinners start between 7 and 8. Back home, I’m ready for dinner at 5, and if I haven’t eaten by 6:30, I’m absolutely famished. Yet here I am, quite content to wait for stew and potatoes at 7:30 tonight. Which reminds me, some very excellent students this semester have come up with a Tuesday night dinner event, known as Ca$h Money. Ca$h Money is the loose abbreviation for Casual Community Night, in which interested parties throw in a few bucks for a very chill meal, put on by students, cooked by students. Last week some 20 plus of us enjoyed some excellent pasta and chicken, and afterward several of us concluded the evening with a viewing of Gladiator. The irony is that Ca$h Money saves us all money, and we have a great meal, and wonderful fellowship. Who doesn’t want cash money, anyway?
I have a brief story to share, before I head down for stew and potatoes. Last Saturday afternoon we were over at the Vatican to pray the rosary for Africa with the Holy Father. It was beautiful to pray with Benedict XVI with and for Africa. Afterwards, led by Fr. Carola, we prayed vespers in the piazza. As we prayed, I looked up to St. Peter’s, towering over us all, and was struck both by the universality of the Church as well as her unity, her vastness as well as her nearness. The community that is being begun here at Bernardi, among the 30 students, 14 of whom are seminarians, is special. Fr. Carola has spoken about the uniqueness of our situation here, that we are able to live under the same roof as Jesus (we have a chapel downstairs), and how this Christocentricity (my word) is in fact the foundation and glue of our community. We are not 30 study abroad students who happen to be in the same house and same class, we are 30 students called to live, study, pray and recreate together, being formed by and helping form each other in this semester in Rome. This all kind of washed over me again as we prayed vespers. Community has its challenges, but I think I can say that the challenge of community life here at Bernardi is one that we are all glad to take up. I’ll end on that note. I can hear and smell the signs that dinner is very close. Better get down there. Salve.


Arriving in Rome

Buona sera! I sit here on a Wednesday evening, finally winding down after a rather hectic day. It’s fall in Rome, and I’m enjoying my 6th day here in the Eternal City. My name is Dan Clarke, a sophomore and double major in Catholic Studies and philosophy at UST. This fall, along with 28 other Catholic Studies students, I’ll be immersing myself in a semester of study, prayer, fellowship and culture here in the Eternal City.
I’m sitting on our beautiful rooftop terrace here at Bernardi, from which I can see the magnificent dome of St. Peter’s, only a short 20 minute walk away. It has been a very busy first few days. But let me begin from the beginning. Two friends and I flew in on Monday/Tuesday, arriving in Rome around 11am on Tuesday. We then caught a 2pm train up to Alessandria, in Piemonte (NW Italy), where we had arranged to stay with a friend of Fr. Keating’s who runs a bed & breakfast. Our 6+ hour train ride took us up along the jaw-dropping beautiful western coast of Italy. We reached La Rocca, the bed & breakfast, (which was actually in Vignale, a 45 car ride outside Alessandria) a little before 10pm, after nearly 18 straight hours of travel.
Vignale is in wine country, and our host, Tracey (a UST alumna), owns a small vineyard, and we three actually got to help with the wine making. Not a lot, but we helped clean up the cantina, and when there was a minor crisis because the acidity level was too high, we stood in and helped move the yet unfermented wine from one massive holder to another. We tasted the wine, too, which was cool. It was very sweet, like an amazingly fresh grape juice. All chemical free, too, I might add.
The town was beautiful, and rather quaint. It was perched on a hill, with the church — S. Bartolommeo — at the top. The streets are very narrow, the houses very old yet well-kept and charming, and the view from the hilltop out over the surrounding country (all vineyards and small, similar towns) is stunning. It was truly amazing that these streets and houses, the townspeople and (in many ways) their way of life, has been passed on from centuries before, and there we were, three young Catholic Studies undergrads from the States experiencing it. The whole trip, which lasted from Tuesday night until Friday morning, was truly special. On our last night in Vignale, we splashed out a bit and went to the nice ristorantes in town, La Trattoria Panoramica. I ordered one of the nicer wines of the region and our main course was delicious meat ravioli, with a pumpkin sauce. It was amazing — who would’ve thought that pumpkin and ravioli could work? All in all, a wonderful meal and the perfect bookend to a relaxing 3 day jaunt in Piemonte.
The next morning we caught our train into Roma, and got in around 4. The night of our arrival in Rome through yesterday has been jam-packed with orientation, registration, events and introductions. Since getting in on Friday, I’ve already visited St. Peter’s twice; went to an audience with the Holy Father (fifth row!); begun classes at the Angelicum; had a visit from Archbishop Neinstedt; toured and registered with the Gregorian library (more on that later); gotten lost multiple times (not a bad thing); and seen the inside of an amazing 16th century monastery that used to belong to French nuns. Tomorrow night we’ll be going to an ordination of several deacons at St. Peter’s, as well as a tour of the Catacombs with Dr. Lev (for our art and architecture class), and on Saturday we’re joining other university students in praying a rosary with the Holy Father for Africa.
I hope to write more soon, especially about our upcoming visit to the Catacombs and the Vatican Museums with Dr. Lev. As tiring and intense as this first week has proven to be, I‘ve come to realize just how blessed and fortunate I am to be here, studying and living in Roma. Buona sera, e pace.