CMSM Visit to the Vatican: #2

The place we are staying at is called Domus Carmelitana, and while it is a very pleasant place and conveniently located, the wifi here is rather weak, so it’s been a challenge downloading photos and being able to keep up. Add to that a rather hectic schedule of visits, and that it explains why this entry took so long to put together.

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Waiting in line for the Papal Audience.

Every Wednesday morning a papal audience is held in St. Peter’s Square. We were fortunate to acquire good tickets and a few of us had excellent seats, and actually got the opportunity to shake the hand of Pope Francis. It was unexpected and almost unbelievable. I will treasure that moment for a long time.

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“Up close and personal” with the Swiss Guards

After the audience we walked the short distance to the Generalate of the Salvatorians (SDS); Fr. Joe Rodrigues is a Salvatorian and he gave us a wonderful tour of the former palace right off St. Peter’s Square. We also had lunch and mass there.

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Joe giving us a tour.

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Our group on the Salvatorian roof.

That evening CMSM had an appointment with Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State. I felt a certain sense of intrigue as were escorted by various Swiss Guards into the inner sanctums of the Vatican. It was a fascinating meeting with this man who has rubbed shoulders with diplomats and leaders from al over the world. Even though he was leaving for Poland the following morning, he generously spent an hour and a half with us.

 

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Being escorted through the many rooms and halls of the Vatican to see the Secretary of State.

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Our meeting with Cardinal Parolin.

Thursday was our busiest day with four visits. Our first was with Msgr. Lucio Ruiz, the new head of the Secretariat for Communications. His task is to reform this office to align with modern forms of communication. In my humble opinion, he is the “right man” for the job. He clearly understands Pope Francis’ vision and how best to convey it to the world.

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Monsignor Ruiz is third from the left. 

We then headed over to Trastevere for two joint meetings with the Offices of the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Peace and Justice. The timing was especially relevant since two days later Pope Francis would head to Greece for his historic visit to the migrants there. A personal highlight was the conversation with Christine Jeangey and Flaminia Giovanelli about the situation in Syria and Iraq.

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Christine and Flaminia with Sr. Joan Steadman, Executive Dtr. Of LCWR

Our final visit was one filled with energy and zeal. We met with the Congregation for Catholic Education: Fr. Friedrich Bechina, FSO, is a dynamic advocate for Catholic Education who had just gotten back from a visit to Chicago. We covered a lot of relevant topics, and he was invested and interested in all of them. I was pleased to present him with a copy of Brother Mike Fehrenbach’s new book, “Schools of Character” on faith-inspired charter schools.

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Fr. Friedrich with Brother Mike’s book.

Thursday evening I had a very pleasant reunion dinner with Sr Mary Willette, SSND, who works at their Generalate. We ministered together at San Miguel in Minneapolis.

More meetings Friday and Saturday. . .

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