Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Assisi and Pope Francis-highlights of Tuesday and Wednesday

Greetings at the end of Day 4.  Due to some very unreliable wi-fi connections at the Bed and Breakfast in Assisi, I was unable to send a posting from yesterday; therefore today's posting will summarize both Tuesday, April 14th and today, Wednesday, April 15th.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015: 
A beautiful day spent high up in the Umbrian hillside in Assisi sums up most of what took place on this 3rd day of this Roman Pilgrimage.  We awoke to a most peaceful spring morning. Following breakfast and a long walk to the St. Francis Basilica,

we had the privilege of celebrating Mass at 9:00 a.m at the Tomb of St. Francis.  While I have had this privilege at other times, each time I get this privilege is special and inspiring.  Celebrating every Mass is a privilege; but celebrating Mass at the tomb of one of the most revered and renowned Saints of all time is very special indeed.  After Mass and a tour of the gorgeous Basilica, we took a leisurely walk back to the B&B up and down the steep hills and cobblestone roads that have been traveled by pilgrims and people for nearly 1,000 years.  Amazing!  We also toured and prayed at San Damiano Basilica in the lower part of Assisi before taking the train back to Rome, arriving there in time for a nice dinner and a welcome bedtime.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015:  
This has been a very eventful day.  I had the privilege of being the principal celebrant for the 6:30 a.m community Mass at the North American College (NAC) where I am staying while here in Rome.  It was very encouraging to see the beautiful NAC Chapel of the Immaculate Conception filled with nearly 300 young men from dioceses across the U.S. in various years of theological education and priestly formation.   After Mass I got ready to join with the nearly 10,000 other pilgrims who attended the Holy Father's weekly Wednesday Audience at 10:00 a.m. in St. Peter Square.  it was another picture-perfect spring day in Rome with a pleasant breeze, bright sun and temps in the low 70's.  The Holy Father is amazing as he spends his entire energy doing his best to be present to every one of those thousands of people by circulating and criss-crossing through the crowds waving, blessing, and occasionally getting out of the Popemobile to hug and kiss special individuals.  His audience message was a catechesis on marriage.  I was very pleased that all the members of my family who are making this pilgrimage with me were able to have very good seats where they could see the Holy Father very well.  I had the special privilege of greeting the Holy Father personally, and once again, extended to him the greetings and prayerful best wishes of all the priests and faithful of the Diocese of Kalamazoo.  He was very grateful for those prayers, and once more, asked us to pray for him.
After the Audience and lunch, I spent the afternoon in meetings with our two seminarians and their Rector and Formators, followed by a pleasant dinner with our entire Kalamazoo contingent. As I said, this was a full, eventful and wonderful day. 

With prayers and blessings from this beautiful Eternal City---- + Bishop Paul Bradley

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