Saturday, October 05, 2013

Looking on from afar

This is such an awesome weekend.  You can only imagine how I groaned when I realized I was going to miss it! 
There’s not much that can take me away from the Fall Festival weekend here at the parish, so you may figure out what did it, since it is the same as last time I missed it.  The Ordination to the Diaconate for the North American College in Rome was Thursday of this week.  I went, not least because Christopher Seith, our seminarian assigned here for the summer of 2012, is one of the new deacons.   One other man from our Archdiocese, Aaron Qureshi, is also among the forty-one newly ordained.
That is a huge class, and very good news for the church in the United States.  The College is filled to capacity, with not one empty bed.  They are adding on to the already-large building, to make room for more library, study space, and classroom space needed to give all those men a place to do the work of preparation for Priesthood.
My own ordination class of deacons numbered twenty-three when we knelt before then-Bishop, now-Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, our former rector.  That was seventeen years ago to the day.  So, I will be travelling with my classmate and fellow Washingtonian, Fr. Mark Knestout, who is now Pastor at Saint Bartholomew in Bethesda. 
While we are in Rome, we will surely spend time as well with Msgr. Tom Powers, who was immediately to my right as we prostrated ourselves before the Altar of the Chair in Saint Peter’s Basilica.  He now serves as an official of the Congregation for Bishops in Rome.  To my immediate left was another character whom some of you may well remember, Msgr. David Toups.  With company like that, is it any wonder that this is a happy anniversary for us?
But this year’s class boggles the mind, for size anyway.  Only for events like the Pope’s funeral, or the creation of new Cardinals, have I ever gone to Saint Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world, and worried whether there would be room for me to find a seat!  But that is precisely the case this week.  And that is awesome.
So I will be missing the awesomeness that is here.  I hope you do not hold it against me that I go away at this odd time of year.  Because I get by on the help of student priests – two very, very good ones, I might add – I can’t leave the parish during normal vacation times.  That’s when the students are away.  It’s been a long time since I’ve gone on vacation.
Strange as it sounds, this weekend, I am in Europe, but thinking of Silver Spring.  You’re always in my prayers, but especially during the Festival I will be thinking of you. 
All of the best of Saint Bernadette will be on display making it clear to any visitor – and let’s hope there are many – what a delightful parish this is.  I take this opportunity to thank Lauren Draley and Jessica and Stanley Barsch, for all their good work in organizing and executing the fall festival for several years in a row now.  Other folks will also be making it happen, including but not limited to the Rosensteel Knights of Columbus, the CYO, the HSA, the Scouts of Troop 440, the guys of Holy Name, the Blue-Haired Sno-Cone Guy, and a slate of other colorful volunteers.  Please, thank them – and then thank them again, once for me.  I really, really, really, wish I were there! 
Monsignor Smith

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