Mardis Gras with St. Thomas (Feb. 28th)

We picked up General Audience tickets at the Bronze Door on Tuesday afternoon, only to discover that they weren’t anything special in spite of being obtained from a very good source.
Tuesday evening we proceeded to catch the tram that would take us to the banks of the Tiber, near where the students of St. Thomas University studying in Rome reside. There were several others waiting for the tram and we waited there quite awhile when a man came over and said in Italian that we should get on the bus that had the same number (he motioned while speaking in Italian…I understood the motioning not the Italian). We got on the bus which slowly pulled out, drove slowly around the block and then the driver returned us to the same spot we had been standing for the past twenty minutes. Then the tram arrived (not sure what was going on) but we were happy to be headed in the right direction. Arriving at the spot with some clarification we found the St. Thomas students waiting for us at the gate.
What a great group of young people! Very zealous for the faith, living, studying and praying in Rome. The Roman Roamin was are gracious host and reading her blog you can get a great feel for what students in the program are experiencing.
We gathered for dinner and had our first crisis of the night when Joseph’s little airplane’s wheel fell off and like “Rachel bewailing her children” he could not be consoled and knocked over a glass of water. This made it a little difficult for me to catch up with Father Joseph Carolla who serves as a chaplain for the group, and used to teach with me at Jesuit High School in Tampa some years ago. Father now has his Doctorate in Patristics and teaches at the Gregorian. We compared war stories and caught up while Joseph continued to whine about the plane. Finally I found the missing wheel, and Father found a student who had crazy glue and the wheel was repaired, although the propellar and broken off in the process (this also was repared–funny I haven’t seen that plane since we returned back to the states).
After a nice meal we gathered upstaires and Amy talked about the Da Vinci Code, I added a few lines about who Jesus was betrothed to and how that related to the Eucharist and Father Joe corrected me as was needed. Here is a picture from Mary’s blog from the event:

Walking back to the tram, Father and I were able to catch up a bit more before he went in one direction and we in another.

Evening came, Day four.

Afternoon in Trastevere (Feb 28th)

We arrived a few minutes before we were scheduled to meet Charlie Collins of Vatican Radio and his esteemed group for lunch at the fountain in the Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, so I decided to take a look in at Santa Maria’s, just as I opened the door Charlie was walking out…so we went back with the rest of the family by the garden and took a quick tour of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council buildings, residences and offices. Then to the restaurant where we were joined by:

Franciscan of the Holy Land Father David-Maria Jaeger, O.F.M., J.C.D., who currently is on the faculty of the Pontifical Athenaeum “Antonianum” in Rome, and is a member of the Delegation of the Holy See on the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel. Father Jaeger was born of Jewish parents in Israel. He converted to Chrisianity and became a Catholic priest in 1986. He received his Doctorate in Canon Law (J.C.D.) in 1989.

Legionarie of Christ Father Kevin Lixey Head of Office for Church and Sport, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, fresh from the Winter Olympics in Turin or Torino.

National Catholic Register Rome reporter Edward Pentin
, a native of Canterbury, England. He’s also a great caricaturist and if you read The Tablet, you’ve seen his work.

Kishore Jayabalan formerly with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, now the head of the Rome office of The Acton Institute and a fellow blogger.

Elizabeth Lev who teaches Christian art and architecture at Duquesne University’s Rome campus, gives great tours at the Vatican’s museums and also does interviews for Zenit among other organizations including Our Sunday Visitor.

Opus Dei Father John Wauck
, originally from Chicago, Harvard grad and former speech writer for Governor Casey, brother-in-law of FBI spy Robert Hanssen, blogger, and a priest teaching at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce in Rome and host of an EWTN show Mirror of the Soul.

A great crowd who greatly educated us in many matters of life in the Church in the Vatican. What a joy it was today (March 12th) back in the states to see a story on Rome Reports that featured Father Jaeger, immediately bringing to mind the excellent afternoon of conversation we enjoyed.
This was also our only real Italian meal with all the courses and a little wine to go with it–after all it was Fat Tuesday!
When it was all over we parted ways and Charlie took us into Santa Maria Trastevere, one of the most beautiful churches. Here again are the perfunctory blurry pictures:

This final image didn’t come out very good, which is a shame it was Joseph catcing sight of many costumed children in the piazza outside of Sant Maria’s–it was Carnivale and he didn’t quite know what to make of it.
Charlie walked us out of Trastevere, across the Tiber to where we could catch a bus back to St. Peter’s. Once we arrived back we made the perfunctory check of email at the Internet cafe, picked up some milk and water and headed back to the apartment to get ready for the evening visit with the American students from St. Thomas in MN who are studying in Rome.

Time Out! Congratulations to….

The Mighty Florida Gator Basketball Team, Southeaster Conference Tournament Champions!

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