I’m in town today for the first time in a week and a half, although it’s only a half hour drive in from St. Fidelis. Here are some updates on life in that time:
1) Despite the excitement of the beginning of the term, a definite highlight was speaking to my sister on her 8th birthday. She is, I would venture to say, the most adorable little girl in the world. As always, not seeing or hugging her is the hardest part of being anywhere where she isn’t.
2) I’ve begun to teach. The joys and challenges of teaching here are quite different from those in the US. Students are always respectful and all show some level of eagerness to learn. For an American this is often hard to notice, though, due to the apparent “shyness” of students in the classroom.
3) The program here has recently been updated and is now very catechesis (systematic introduction to basic Christian doctrines) intensive in its first year. Students have responded to this well. Many seem relieved. In many parts of this country, people have a strong Christian faith, but have very limited understanding of that faith. This is also true of many of our students.
4) Some of the most satisfying moments have been during “office hours” or during work hours when students have asked me questions and we can talk one-on-one or in a small group. I’m glad to see students asking questions—especially when they ask ones that I can answer!
5) I learned about Pope Benedict’s resignation at morning chapel. Br. Jim, our rector, had learned the night before, after I had gone to sleep, and announced it to the students after our morning Mass. We have been praying for Benedict, thanking God for his service to the Church, and praying for the cardinals to be particularly receptive to the calling of the Holy Spirit as they meet next month to elect a new Pope.
6) We marked Ash Wednesday (the start of Lent) with a Recollection Day, which meant no classes, but extra talks in the chapel, Adoration, and extra opportunities for Confession. It was a good start to the Lenten season, in which I hope to be particularly open to Christ’s call to each one of us to repent and believe the good news.
Peace to all of you !