June 23, 2010
From Brendan Johnson’s journal:
June 11, 2010
Today we had the Mass for the end of the Year of the Priest and it was an amazing sight! There were about 15,000 priests concelebrating with the pope, and thousands of other people besides – when the priests walked out after vesting, it took about an hour and a half for them to completely get out and fill up all of the seats and they arrived in very steady streams down the paths in St. Peter’s Square.
Again, the homily was in Italian, so we couldn’t understand everything that was said, but there were some good responses from those who could, so I’m excited about reading the homily when I get a chance. The only thing that was a little disappointing about the Mass was the number of people who randomly walked in and out of the section we were in. I think that more than a few of them thought that it was just a tourist attraction to watch the Catholics perform their rituals. I’m glad that they were able to stumble in and at least in a small way participate in the Mass – but it was surely heartbreaking to watch them in their ignorance.
After the Mass the pope drove right by where we were standing again and we were able to see him up close again, which was pretty neat. After the Mass we went for lunch at Santa Croce and then I went for an afternoon siesta (sometimes the Italians have great ideas!). After dinner we had a bit of a party for Fr. Heisler who was, unfortunately, leaving us to go back to the States to attend a conference for seminarian formators. It was a good time though – and a lot of good conversation.
June 21, 2010
From Brendan Johnson’s journal: June 10, 2010
Today was the vigil for the end of the Year of the Priest, so we went over to St. Peter’s at about 5 pm to try to get in as close as we could to see the Pope. We were able to get in the very front of the seminarian section and to see pretty well the stand where the presentations were and, eventually, where the pope was to be. He didn’t come in until about 9:30 but there were talks starting at about 8:30 pm.
The talks, I’m sure, were very good, but only a few of them were in English so I didn’t catch much of what was said. At 9:30 pm when the pope came in, he drove right by where we were standing, so I was about ten feet away from him as he drove around before approaching the altar. There, he answered questions from priests from all over the world. He answered in Italian, so again, I didn’t understand anything, but it was still really neat to have him answering these questions — and without his notes, too.
After the Q & A, the Blessed Sacrament was brought in, and the pope presided over Adoration and Benediction, which was incredible! Everyone went down on their knees in St. Peter’s Square and went completely silent to receive Benediction. After Benediction ended, we got back to Fraterna Domus (late), but the sisters let us in so that we could go to bed for a few hours to get back up for the Mass the next morning.
June 12, 2010
From seminarian Jeffrey Gardner:
Yesterday (June 11, 2010) was another big day. Not only was it the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but we attended the closing Mass for the Year of the Priest. I believe there were 10,000 priests in attendance, plus thousands of seminarians. Once again, what a powerful experience! I was also about ten feet from the Holy Father when he rode around in the “popemobile” after Mass!
May 21, 2010
Friday, Day 26: Rome
We took the 118 to the Catacombs of San Sebastian and got there a little before 10:00. After the tour, we had Mass in the catacombs, a very moving experience. The altar was well-prepared, but they had a clay chalice and paten for our use. In the future, we might want to bring our own, of a little nobler quality. We took the 218 back; as it turns out, it is a lot closer to San Sebastian. That evening, everyone left for the vesper service opening the Year of the Priest. Those wearing cassocks received better seating than those dressed in a clerical suit. We returned to Fraterna Domus for dinner at 8, as the sisters agreed to serve dinner a little later than usual.
Year of the Priest begins with a service at St. Peter's Basilica
Rome Experience seminarians Ryan O'Neill and Samuel Morehead at St. Peter's