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April 15: Seminaries growing

April 16: Bishops on 'ad limina' pray for courage to defend religious liberty

April 17: Mass with
St. Paul

April 18: Truly universal Church

April 19: The Vatican and diplomacy

April 20: Bishop Cordileone on
Vatican Radio

April 20: Down
to the tombs

April 20: Mass at
St. John Lateran

April 21: Audience
with Benedict XVI

April 22: An explanation

April 22: Migration, religious liberty
on US bishops'
Vatican agenda

Father George Mockel

Seminaries growing

There is a saying: "Travel broadens one’s mind."

I would add that it also "tries one’s patience!"

Despite the travails of contemporary airline travel, Bishop Cordileone and I, along with Bishop Robert F. Vasa of Santa Rosa and Father Ken Nobrega, diocesan vocation director (who is here in Rome for a conference), arrived safe and relatively sound and so did our luggage — but in Bishop Cordileone's case, the luggage was not quite as “sound” as when we started out.

Sunday (April 15) was our first full day in Rome. We began by celebrating Mass in St Peter’s.

Memories came flooding across my mind of previous visits to the Basilica and the first time I celebrated Mass there with two priests of our diocese — Father Ed Hayburn ( now gone home to God) and Father Jay Matthews. Two of our seminarians studying at the North American College — Brandon Macadaeg and Derrick Oliveira — joined us. Then we had a short prayer at the tombs of Pope St. Pius X and Blessed John XXIII before heading off for light breakfast and a most engaging conversation about contemporary theological trends and the various study interests of the students.

I learned that the North American college where the American students do their seminary studies is full for the first time in many, many years. And I am told that seminary enrollment is up in some parts of our country as well. Another interesting fact is that the upswing is most apparent in dioceses that have faced some of the greatest scandals of clergy misconduct. “God writes straight with crooked lines.”

I returned to the square for the Regina Caeli (Queen of Heaven) prayer and short talk by the Holy Father. I was struck by the literally thousands of young people in attendance. They were so enthusiastic and seemingly engaged in the Popes words and prayer. It is at events like this and in conversations I had at breakfast that my hope in the future is restored. These kids are great and in many ways reflect the young people I meet when I go to the parishes to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation. Despite all the problems we face now and in the future there is reason for hope.

The evening included a meeting to organize the week and the meetings with the various offices of the Holy See. Bishops were assigned as spokesmen to introduce the meeting and “get things rolling.” The first meeting and first spokesman was our own bishop, in the meeting with the Apostolic Signaturae, the highest judicial authority in the Church (apart from the Pope). Bishop Cordileone will do a marvelous job — he used to work there.

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