Monthly Archives

February 2010


The Fall of Rome ’09

The curtain is dropping on the fall semester in Rome. Our group, i.e. “Fall of Rome ’09,” is now preparing to head back to the St. Paul campus. I am in the semi-enviable position of being one of the four students staying in Rome for the spring semester as well. As the other 25 students have been packing and saying their fond farewells to the hallowed places and favored haunts of Rome, I have been beside them, constantly catching myself from adding my goodbyes to theirs. I’m looking forward to spending the spring semester in Rome, but it is not easy to see our Fall group’s vibrant community move across the Atlantic and say goodbye to the great friends I’ve made over the past four months.
So as we stood in the courtyard at 3am on a chilly Roman morning awaiting the bus for the airport, and the departure of twenty-some of my fellow Bernardians sank in, the vast distance, both physical and experiential, hit me like a ton of bricks. In grappling with this beastly transience, two phrases came to mind that helped immensely. The first was some wise words of our already departed leader, Fr. Keating. He had said at our last night of layman formation, speaking of our times together, “I have enjoyed this chapter tremendously. Now I look forward to the next one.” The second was a simple statement from a fellow year-long Bernardian. To those heading back to the States, she said, “see you in the Eucharist.” These two simple phrases brought all leave-taking into perspective. So, without sinking into the nasty morass of nostalgia and rear-window watching, I want to thank everyone from the Fall of Rome, particularly Thanos and Fr. Keating, for the marvelously and variously holy, hilarious and harrowing experiences we’ve shared in Rome. What a brilliant semester. And now for the next chapter.


Monday Night Formation

Monday nights here at Bernardi could be my favorite night of the week. These are the nights that the seminarians, laywomen, and laymen all separate and join either Fr. Carola, Nina Heermann, or Fr. Keating for a night of fellowship and spiritual formation. As one of the five laymen, I would argue that we had the best night. Beginning with vespers and Mass at 6pm, followed by Scripture reading and discussion, a splendid meal cooked by that wizard of Italian cuisine, Fr. Keating, we’d cap it off with cigars “topside,” on the Bernardi terrace. The fruits of these Monday nights? This past semester’s formation deepened in me a more thoughtful approach to my faith, one that is attuned to the Word of God that we would read and discuss in depth each week. Then there was the fraternity of the group. The fellowship we shared was marvelous, and was a source of strength and accountability throughout the semester.