As Day 5 in beautiful Rome dawned, so did the first full day of the impromptu city-wide taxicab strike, or as the Italians call it, a "sciopero". Evidently this strike is in protest to Uber drivers and other private car chauffeur services. Since it's unknown how long the strike may last, other arrangements are made----like good old-fashioned walking. Fortunately our planned schedule for today was already keeping us mostly nearby.
The day began with celebrating early Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. I've been looking forward to this since Day 1, but the schedule hasn't allowed for us to get here before now. One of our deacons, Jeff Hanley, as part of his apostolic ministry, does college chaplaincy ministry for two U.S. Colleges who have student-abroad programs. One of them is a Great Books College in New Hampshire known as Thomas More College, and its sophomore class spends three months here at this time of year. So, Deacon Jeff and a student priest meet with them once a week for Mass, prayer, Eucharistic adoration, and fellowship. Jeff had asked if I'd celebrate Mass with this group and that is who joined Msgr. Osborn and me this morning. We were privileged to celebrate Mass in the Crypt area at the Mary, the Pregnant Virgin Chapel. About 15 of the students joined us, and Deacon Jeff did another fine job of preaching the Homily. After Mass, we were able to visit the Clementine Chapel which is right next to the burial spot of St. Peter, the Apostle, upon which spot this great Basilica was built. And of course it was upon the great St. Peter that Jesus has built His Church. We intend to return to St. Peter's on Monday to spend some additional time. After Mass, we treated the students to some coffee and rolls and enjoyed their company. It was encouraging to see the strong and vibrant faith of these young Catholics---hope for the future!
Following this pleasant breakfast, we went right to the Curial Offices for two appointments Msgr. Osborn had arranged for us to discuss some diocesan business: one with the Congregation for Religious, and the other with the Congregation for Clergy. We had pleasant meetings at both offices with helpful and productive counsel provided for our concerns. In both offices we were able to deal with two American members of the offices, Father Hank Limoncelli, who is of the O.M.I. Community in the Congregation for Religious, and Msgr. Ron Soseman in the Congregation for Clergy from the Diocese of Peoria.
While Msgr. Osborn took care of some other personal matters, Deacon Jeff and I returned to the NAC where we both took care of some obligations for the better part of the afternoon, which for me included writing the B-mail and catching up on a number of other important matters which included some "reposa". I must admit that I like that part of the Italian daily schedule.
The three of us met at 7:00 a.m. to walk to the restaurant at the bottom of the hill where we enjoyed a delicious and leisurely Friday dinner. When we finished and began our trek back up the hill, lo and behold, who did we see....our long-lost Deacon Max! He had just made it across town (on foot) from the train station having just returned from his two-week pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was so good to see him. Max will be able to join us for our weekend trip to Siena and Assisi beginning tomorrow morning, so we will get to catch up then. In the meantime, it was great to have the four of us finally together.
Msgr. Osborn and I had some phone calls to make upon our return so we parted company, but very much looking forward to the rest of our time together.