Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Assisi, Rome, Baltimore, Boston and El Paso

Peace and Good,

February 8, 2011

As you can see, this past week has been quite busy.

It started with my trip to Assisi to speak with the Custos of the Sacro Convento. A custos is the man in charge. With larger jurisdictions, he is called a provincial. With smaller jurisdictions, he is called a custos. The Sacro Convento is the friary and basilica where St. Francis is buried.

Late on Sunday I headed back to Rome. This was a trick, because there was a train strike going on. The only thing is that this does not necessarily mean that all of the trains are not running. In fact, a good number were running, but the people who could answer the phone and tell you which ones were running were not at work. So it is a guessing game. I guessed right and got home on Sunday evening.

Tuesday I headed out to the States. It was an uneventful trip, and I arrived in Baltimore that evening.

Wednesday morning was a doctor's appointment and that afternoon I went to see the optometrist. You have to take care of these things while you can. Everything seems to be in order.

Thursday morning I met with one of our friars who is working for a NGO (non-governmental organization) that represents Franciscans at the UN. His organization tries to give a voice to the powerless of the world. He and the group are doing great work. We Franciscans are somewhere between a quarter of a million and three quarters of a million worldwide. We have networks that can often pick up news of bad situations, and fr. Mike brings these problems to the attention of those who can make a difference. I was inspired by what he is doing. You might want to check out the website of his organization. I am not sure of its address, but if you google Franciscans International, you will find it. If you wish, they have a program where you could donate $5 a month to help their expenses from your credit card.

Friday morning I headed off to Boston to make a canonical visitation of one of our parishes. This parish is run by friars from Poland (it is made up of Poles who have just arrived from Poland). My province used to run the parish, but we have very few friars who speak Polish well enough. Most of the friars who do speak some Polish speak the version spoken by their grandparents when they came over from Poland in 1890, so it sounds very old fashioned to the new Poles.

On the way, the stewardess noticed my sandals without socks. She jokingly asked me if I was a Polar Bear (those who jump in freezing water during the winter). I told her I was a Franciscan. She was thrilled. St. Francis is her favorite saint, and she is going to Assisi next month. I gave her the name of one our friars in the Sacro Convento whom she can look up while she is there.

Sunday I flew down to El Paso for a meeting of the North American Provincials and our Minister General. I was supposed to fly to Houston and then on to El Paso, but the weather played havoc with the flight and I ended up going to Milwaukee, then Phoenix, and then finally El Paso. That was a long way around.

I finished a couple of books this week. The first was a two volume work on the Life of Napoleon by John Holland. It was a good work, but a little too English in its viewpoint for my taste.

The second was the Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad. I am always amazed at how well Conrad writes in English, given that he was born in Poland and English was not even his second language, French was. This is a novella about a man who escaped from his ship where he was being held for the murder of one of his shipmates. He is taken aboard another ship and finds safety in the room of the captain. The captain and he form a strange relationship until the man finally escapes to an island. Conrad always gives you the flavor of Asia or Africa in the 19th century. I enjoyed the story.

Have a good week and
fr. Jude


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