I guess the first news is that I never got a chance to meet the pope. Close encounters continued, but the closest I ever came to meeting him was at a small audience for those of us who helped out with the year of the Faith at the Vatican. In the group photo with the pope, I am in the back row straining my neck over the crowd in order to be seen in the picture as proof that I was there.
The unsuccessful pope-meeting aside, the last three years have been extremely rewarding and fruitful. In addition to completing the writing for the doctorate, a quick 732 pages (there are a few business items that will take me back to Rome in the coming year including the defense of the project), I also worked as chaplain for a group of university students from the University of Saint Thomas in St. Paul, MN who were in Rome for their semester abroad experience through the Catholic Studies department. I also taught a seminar at the Gregorian University, the school from which I am getting my degree. Some of those men I taught have since been ordained priests.
I can say that I am really happy to be back in the United States and back at Holy Ghost and St. Bridget Parishes. I have already seen some familiar faces and look forward to reuniting names with those faces. I apologize ahead of time if I get your name wrong – as new things were shoved into my brain, I think that some things slipped out. I look forward to American efficiency and football at reasonable times (those Sunday Night Football games are on at 2:00 in the morning in Rome), but most of all I look forward to serving you as your pastor. I realized that I have preached only about a half a dozen Sunday homilies in the last three years, so lease, forgive the rust.
Please pray for me and my continual conversion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and please know that I am praying for you; with the grace of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of St. Bridget, we will all get holy together.