Roman Echoes 2023 - Volume 27, Issue 3

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THE PONTIFICAL NORTH AMERICAN COLLEGE VOLUME 27 ISSUE 3 2023 Eucharist Page 10 Lent Station Churches Page 16 College Night Page 22 Rector's Dinner Page 38 Mother Knows Best
roman echoes
2 The Pontifical North American College Contents 16 10 THE PONTIFICAL NORTH AMERICAN COLLEGE Rector's Dinner 22 The 29th Annual Rector's Dinner 24 Interview: Supreme Knight Patrick E. Kelly 8 A Burning Heart 26 Orvieto Corpus Christi Procession 30 A Sign of Abundance 34 Eucharist in Culture Student Life 10 Lent Station Churches 16 College Night 18 Spring Play 28 Living in Rome Features Specials 6 Sailing Home 36 Vocation Story: A Long Night with God 38 Poem: Mother Knows Best

From the Editor

At the end of my first year in seminary a priest came to give a weekend retreat. During his conferences, I was struck by how he spoke about prayer and about the priesthood—God was so real to him. At the end of the weekend I asked him, “What is the key to being a priest?”

I expected him to answer: making a daily holy hour, saying Mass reverently, or maintaining friendships with other priests. So I was surprised when, after pausing for a moment to think, he responded, “God has been so good to me.” For the first time, I realized the priesthood is a response to God’s goodness and his love, which he gives freely. For this issue, we take the most tangible reminder of God’s goodness and love that we have as Catholics—the real presence of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist—as our theme.

It wasn’t difficult to find articles for our theme because the Eucharist touches our lives so closely. As you’ll see in

this issue, during Lent our days begin with Mass at a different Church in Rome and end with adoration in our chapel. We teach about the Eucharist in our apostolates. We study the Eucharist in our classes. Some of us have even entered the Catholic Church because of the Eucharist. We hope you’ll enjoy this look into our response to God’s goodness and love.

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Matthew Ludwig '24, Archdiocese of Washington


Will Robbins '25, Diocese of Beaumont


Aaron Salvan '24, Archdiocese of New York


Chukwuma Odigwe '25, Archdiocese of Washington

Administration of The Pontifical North American College RECTOR

Rev. Msgr. Thomas W. Powers '97


Rev. David A. Schunk ‘10



Rev. Peter John Cameron, OP


Rev. James J. Conn, SJ


Rev. Edward Linton, OSB


Mark Randall, CFRE

For more information about The Pontifical North American College, subscription questions, or to learn about ways you can financially support “America’s Seminary in Rome,” please contact Mark Randall, CFRE, Executive Director, Institutional Advancement.

Tel: (202) 541-5411 Fax: (202) 470-6211

Email: Website:

This publication is written, edited, and photographed by the students of The Pontifical North American College.

COVER: The altar of repose in the Assumption Chapel of the North American College on Holy Thursday when the Institution of the Eucharist is celebrated.

THIS PAGE: At the Basilica of San Clemente, this mosaic depicts Christ on the cross, which becomes the tree of life. San Clemente is the station Church on Monday of the second week of Lent.

BACK COVER: This mosaic at Santa Pudenziana shows Christ enthroned among the apostles. It is believed that the first Mass celebrated by St. Peter in Rome took place here.

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Dear Friend of The Pontifical North American College,

Years ago, I had a humorous experience while giving a tour of the College to a married couple and their six-year-old son. When we entered the impressive Immaculate Conception Chapel with the 50-foot mosaic of the Blessed Mother, I told the boy, “When the seminarians come here to pray before this beautiful image, they ask Mary to protect them, to guide them, and to intercede for them.” The boy looked at the image, paused, and then said, “Wow. The chapel where the seminarians pray to Jesus must be huge!”

The Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and just as there is no God Incarnate without Mary, there is no Eucharist without Mary. Our seminarians at the College know that the closer they stay to Our Blessed Mother, the closer they will be configured to her Son, the One whose self-offering continues in the Eucharist.

We know, of course, that Jesus and his Mother are never separated. When we are introduced to Mary in the Gospel of Luke, we are, at the same time, introduced to Jesus in her womb. That is of great importance because his body does not simply appear from heaven: It is fashioned out of his mother’s flesh and blood. Because Jesus does not have a human father, he is physically more indebted to his mother than any other child ever could be. Only Mary, along with God the Father, can say to Jesus, “You are my Son.” What a mystery!

The Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and just as there is no God Incarnate without Mary, there is no Eucharist without Mary. Our seminarians at the College know that the closer they stay to Our Blessed Mother, the closer they will be configured to her Son, the One whose self-offering continues in the Eucharist. They realize that just as God chose Mary to make his Son present in the world at the Incarnation, God has called them to make Jesus sacramentally present, especially in the Eucharist, as priests.

Please ask Jesus and his mother, Mary—you won’t need two chapels!—to form our seminarians with Eucharistic hearts; that is, sacrificial and self-giving hearts, which will be offered for those whom they serve as priests.

Thank you for your continued support, for which we are deeply grateful.


Sailing Home

What is the Eucharist for us but the ship that will carry us back to our Beloved, to the God who first loved us and continues to search for us? If we call Mass the Wedding Feast of the Lamb on earth, it is here that God espouses himself to humanity, here that he gives himself to each of us, here that we meet our Beloved.

In his song Ulysses, Josh Garrels recounts the timeless tale of the love of the Greek hero Odysseus which draws him home from the ends of the earth to embrace his beloved. In Ulysses, we see ourselves—wearied, beaten, and at times dejected on our earthly pilgrimage, and yet still searching for the love which has touched us. It is this love that we taste in the Eucharist. Here we truly meet our Beloved and yet also remain separated on our earthly pilgrimage. Still, it is this meeting which reminds us of the beauty we have known and which drives us forward on our journey. Gazing on the Beloved, we forge ahead until the day we are reunited with our Love in our heavenly homeland.

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“I’m sailing home to you, I won’t be long by the light of moon I will press on Until, I find my love.”

A Burning Heart

While on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I had the opportunity to spend the night in prayer inside Jerusalem’s wonderous Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is the church built over the top of Calvary and Christ’s tomb. There were six of us pilgrims in total, each from a different part of the world but unified by our faith in the one Risen Lord. After the doors were locked and we were committed to a night of prayer and keeping vigil (Luke 22:40), I immersed myself in the Gospel accounts of Christ’s passion, journeying from chapel to chapel and room to room, from Mount Calvary to the tomb. I found myself alone with our Lord, kneeling right beside his empty tomb, reverently housed inside an ornately constructed Edicule that marks the central mystery of our Christian Faith—the resurrection. For two hours I remained present there, overwhelmed with gratitude for such a gifted experience.

However, despite such a once-in-a-lifetime moment, I found myself a bit unsatisfied, as if this wonderful experience which I was drinking in couldn’t quench my thirst. “How could I not be satisfied with such a wonderful gift?! Am I not as grateful as I thought? Lord, what is the reason

for this hunger that is increasingly being manifested in my heart?”

No sooner did my heart finish its cry for help than it heard the voice from the risen Prince of Peace say, “My beloved, this is just my empty tomb. Why do you seek the living among the dead? (Luke 24:5).” With his answer came not just the thirst-quenching satisfaction of my heart’s divinely inspired hunger, but also a simultaneous desire for the Eucharist, the intensity of which was both immensely joyful and painful. After a few hours of this joyfully painful and painfully joyful desire, I was able to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist, at which point I joyfully said to myself as Jesus “vanished out of sight…did not (my) heart burn within (me) while he spoke to (me) along the way?” (Luke 24:31-32).

Life in seminary at the North American College flows from the heart of our community’s morning Mass and pulsates throughout our daily schedule. While we find our rhythm and harmony from the

Every moment of silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament I can, again and again,remain alone with him.
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Rev. Mr Josh Hill '23 (Bismarck) leads Benediction at the end of a daily Eucharistic holy hour in the Immaculate Conception Chapel.

various times in which we come together for the Liturgy of the Hours, we also have a special opportunity for silent prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. This intimate time to remain with our risen Lord is an oasis in the desert for the one whose soul thirsts for the living God, and whose desire burns to see his face (Psalm 42).

As the heart’s one true desire throughout the pilgrimage of this life, the Eucharist has been my daily bread for the journey, especially throughout seminary. I can see looking back with faith how my heart was burning for it along the way (Luke 24); and with that same faith now looking forward to what lies ahead, I see that our Lord continues to walk with me. Every moment of silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament or in the solitude of my inner room is a moment in which I can, again and again, remain alone with him. However, in every such moment of encounter, the desire of the heart is at once satisfied and enflamed with a deeper hunger. As this satisfying hunger grows, I feel myself compelled more and more to go out and share with others “what had happened on the way, and how He (is) known in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35).

or in the solitude of my inner room is a moment in which

Lent Station


In the Spring 1995 edition of Roman Echoes, then-Msgr. Timothy Dolan described our tradition of visiting the station churches of Rome in his Rector’s Corner article. He said, “During Lent, I saw firsthand how our men learn from this sacred laboratory called Rome…It is hard to describe the sentiment that flows from the recognition that you are gathered in the same Church where fifteen centuries of Christians have assembled for Lenten Mass.” Though we continue this tradition today, it was not ours from the start.

San Sisto Vecchio Santi Cosma e Damiano Santa Maria in Trastevere Santa Pudenziana al Viminale San Paolo fuori le Mura San Marco Evangelista al Campidoglio San Giorgio in Velabria Santi Giovanni e Paolo San Pietro in Vincoli


Visiting the station churches of Rome began in the fourth century after the Edict of Milan gave Christians freedom to observe their religion. Then, at certain burial sites of martyrs and on specific days, the Bishop of Rome be gan to gather with his priests and Christians in the city to celebrate Mass.

By the time of Pope St. Gregory the Great at the end of the sixth century, the places and order for this Lenten pilgrimage were set. During the Avignon pa pacy in the fourteenth century and afterward, the station church pilgrimage largely ceased to exist until the seminarians at the North American College revived it in the 1970s and have continued it to this day.

Sant'Anastasia Santa Maria Maggiore San Lorenzo in Panisperna San Clemente San Lorenzo in Lucina Santi Quattro Coronati Santi Dodici Apostoli San Lorenzo in Damaso San Crisogono in Trastevere

EWTN Documentary: Christ for Others

This spring, EWTN released a documentary on some of the apostolic work done by seminarians at the NAC. Out of the 22 different apostolates, four were chosen to be featured: University of Mary Campus Ministry, Homeless Mission, Centro Astalli—Center for Refugees, and Catechesis at St. Patrick’s Parish. We asked Anthony Johnson, the producer of this show for EWTN, about his experience working with our seminarians.

How has your experience seeing our apostolates up close impacted your view of seminary formation, especially at the NAC?

The most eye-opening thing is the sense of purpose with which the seminarians carry themselves and how passionate they are about their respective apostolates. We are in an age where our society needs men of God, no matter one’s vocation in life, and you’ll notice how people interacting with the seminarians in the documentary respond to that in a positive way. They feel a connection with the seminarians on a personal level and I hope that feeling resonates with the audience because our goal was to make the documentary as immersive as possible. You get a front row seat to seminarian life. And what does one see? That their lives have conviction, prayer, service, hard work, discipline, and above all, a strong love for God and their neighbor.

The seminarians told us during their interviews that they have Mass every morning at 6:30 am, and that their day does not finish until as late as 9:00 in the evening. That is an incredibly rigorous schedule, but an incredibly necessary one for forming warriors. When you stand in the chapel and see them standing together as one, you have this sense that they are one unit, ready to stand for Christ.

What has this project taught you about seminarians and the life we live?

I think what the seminarians taught me the most is this: faith must become personal. Deacon Josh was all about helping people surrender to God so they could truly find joy and their life’s purpose. Peter believed in finding God and sharing his love through friendship and relationships with others. Chukwuma saw that simple acts have incredible significance and that all one has to do is be open to the needs of others. Deacon Zane wanted everyone to see the big picture, which is that there is a God who created everything and that he loves and cares for us in a personal way.

Rev. Mr. Zane Langenbrunner '23 (Fort Wayne-South Bend), Peter Fairbanks '25 (Washington), Rev. Mr. Josh Hill '23 (Bismarck), and Chukwuma Odigwe '25 (Washington) pose for a photo before the premier of the EWTN documentary.

I think many people have a misconception that seminarians and priests are just walking encyclopedias of the faith, but that view is shortsighted and doesn’t take into account the personality of each seminarian and the value they bring to society. In the film, we see these four personal missions come to life through their apostolates. And I hope that our audience too ponders, “What am I passionate about, and how can I share the Light of Christ through it?” That would be a beautiful thing. n

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Teaching the Eucharist

Teaching the first communicants at St. Patrick’s about the Eucharist has been grace-filled and rewarding work. The students always pose excellent questions about the sacrament, and their faithful wonder inspires me. Having the opportunity to communicate the teachings of the Church about the Eucharist is a particular privilege because I not only enjoy the chance to catechize the kids in my class, but I also get to share how my relationship with our Eucharistic Lord has changed, enriched, and sustained my own life. Without the Eucharist, I

would have never found my vocation. The Eucharist gives me the grace and strength needed to love God above all things and to give my life in service to him and his Church.

After each session, the other seminarians in the apostolate and I stay at St. Patrick’s for the Saturday evening Mass. I believe participating in Mass with the students and their families immediately after their class on the Eucharist is the perfect way to concretize their instruction. It gives them the opportunity to appreciate the reality of what they’re being taught

in class, and it’s apparent to me that they are having a true encounter with Jesus in the Mass. It is evident that God is working in their lives, and it is encouraging to witness an increase in their faith and zeal for the Lord. It is edifying to hear the students share what their growing relationships with Christ are like, and how even at their young age they communicate their faith with their peers and parents. My apostolate at St. Patrick’s has been a great experience, and I am honored to help educate the next generation of Christians in the love of Christ in the Eucharist. n

Troy Niemerg '24 (Springfield in Illinois) teaches a lesson on the Eucharist.


How did Eucharistic Adoration affect your discernment of the priesthood?

In sixth grade I first encountered Our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration. I was in Northern Wisconsin in the middle of nowhere at a faith camp. It was there that I asked for the first time: "Lord, what do you want me to do with my life?" Eucharistic Adoration has played an important role in my life ever since because it is there that the Lord often speaks to me.

I have always felt the world makes a thousand demands on me on a daily basis—the noise and busyness never seem to stop. Yet in Eucharistic Adoration I have experienced something other-worldly. In adoration the whole world stops. All is still. In adoration the Lord takes the burdens of life off my shoulders and gives me the courage to live my life by trusting in him and him alone.

When this world comes to pass, I think we will be astonished at the impact of time spent before the Blessed Sacrament. In my own story, I left seminary and then, slowly discerning if I would enter again, I joined a group of men in college at a weekly hour of adoration followed by a massive Perkins breakfast. At the time it didn’t seem like God was giving me answers to my questions. But looking back, the slow, almost imperceptible movement in discernment came through my face-to-face contact with Jesus in Adoration, perhaps even more than I understand now.

What Eucharistic adoration is to priesthood, friendship is to life. When I try to go without it, I am robbed of my relational living and, as a result, my joy. It is in his presence that Jesus reminds me, “Ben, Ben, I want you to be my fisher-of-men.” His silent, life-giving presence moves me to realize it is good that I exist and this enables me to take the next step toward him who alone makes my life meaningful.

Mr. Jacob Tschida ’25, Diocese of Duluth Mr. Ryan Asher ’24, Archdiocese of Detroit Mr. Ben Oursler ’26, Archdiocese of Baltimore
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Rev. Mr. Jared Clements ’23, Diocese of La Crosse

Carl J. Peter Lecture: Preaching Against Racism

Every year, the North American College invites a guest speaker to give the Carl J. Peter Lecture—a talk that provides us with insights on an essential topic for future priests: preaching. This year, Archbishop Shelton Fabre of Louisville spoke to us about preaching against racism. While the topic of racism often elicits discomfort and strong reactions from listeners, Archbishop Fabre offered practical advice and encouragement to preach against racism from the pulpit.

When preaching, the priest’s goal is always to lead others to Christ through God’s grace. This desire was revealed in the questions that seminarians asked about preaching on racism during the lecture: “What are some of the practical steps we can take to prepare a homily addressing racism?”, “How should a priest preach on racism when he is assigned to a parish where his parishioners are predominantly of a different race?”, and “Is it right or wrong to have a ‘colorblind’ view towards race?”

Archbishop Fabre reminded us of the importance of staying aware of recent events when preparing homilies because they will be on the hearts of those in the pews. He encouraged us always to bring a Gospel perspective, to include the teachings of the Church in our homilies, and to never lose focus when confronted with various secular movements and agendas. He affirmed that race is an important part of who we are and that adopting a ‘colorblind’ view can fail to acknowledge one’s full personhood. We were reminded that we should not stray from addressing racism in our homilies when it is important to and should uphold what we preach about in our own lives.

In our second year of theology at the NAC, we begin to practice writing and delivering homilies. At times, it can be quite challenging! Archbishop Fabre’s lecture was a reminder of our need to be attuned to the hearts of the faithful as we prepare to preach. As preachers of God’s Word, our responsibility is always to form hearts to be like Christ through God’s grace. May all priests keep this goal in mind every time they preach to the faithful. n

On March 5th, Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre of the Archdiocese of Louisville gave the annual Carl J. Peter Lecture. He spoke on the importance of preaching against racism, offering both practical advice and encouragement.

College Night

In early March, the seminary community hosted over 200 students from our university apostolates. It was an opportunity to pray together, enjoy some pizza, and to share the wonderful journey that is a life with God.

When I look back upon what God has done in my life, the simple phrase “thank you Lord” often comes to my lips. It’s not simply because I’m here in Rome to study or because of my call to the priesthood, though those are certainly important. Instead, I am grateful because he’s constantly been at work in my life, especially when I’m not aware of it. Faith was a vital part of my childhood—I was completely enamored with the Mass and being at church. I will never forget my 1st grade CCD

teacher, who brought my entire class into the church one day, pointed at the tabernacle, and said, “Did you know that Jesus is in there? Jesus is in there.” For a 1st grader, this was a completely foreign concept, but I wanted to know what that meant!

Through my teenage years and into college, I started to forget about that big question. Other things occupied my mind—school and my major, career choices, relationships, and so many other things that began to take the place of Christ in my life. At a certain point I felt I had outgrown my need for God. Looking back now, that’s just as absurd as someone saying they outgrew their need for food, water, or air. I didn’t realize just

REV. MR. JOSE LIM ’23, DIOCESE OF METUCHEN Rev.Mr.Elder Maldonado '23 (Arlington) shares a pizza dinner with college students. After dinner, we moved to the auditorium for musical performances and personal testimonies. The night began with Evening Prayer in the Immaculate Cconception Chapel. On March 6th, the NAC hosted over 200 college students studying abroad in Rome.

Through the work of the local campus ministry, I encountered Christ again through the Sacraments, the study of the Word, and through the witness of other Catholics. Most especially in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, I found the home that I had been seeking all of my life. Through spending time with the Lord in those quiet moments of adoration, I rediscovered that great mystery I learned in my heart as a little child: “Jesus is in there.” Little did I know that I would eventually be called to serve at the altar to bring that very presence of Jesus in the Eucharist to others as a Catholic priest. It’s amazing to see how God used a simple question from a six-year-old boy and turned it into the center of my life.

Matthew Pohlman '24 (Omaha) sings "Come Sail Away." Rev. Mr. Jose Lim '23 (Metuchen) shares his vocation story with the college students. Rev. Mr. John Bilenki '23 (Baltimore) and Peter Fairbanks '25 (Washington) perform during College Night. Sr.Mary Chiara of the School Sisters of Christ the King gives her vocation story.
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The "NAC Brown Band" closes the night with a final song in front of a standing crowd.

Creativity in Community


“You dumb ignoramus!” shouted Felix Ungar, played by Nicholas Stellpflug ’25 (Green Bay), to Oscar Madison, played by Alexander Turpin ’26 (Albany), in frustration at Oscar’s mistaking a ladle for a spoon. Delivered in a pivotal moment during the NAC’s production of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, it could easily be a line lobbed at a fellow seminarian in the student kitchen. This year’s NAC Play was a comedy, which focused on the delicate, and often frustrating, dynamics of friends living together. These dynamics are something every seminarian, and every priest, knows all too well.

The Odd Couple is a comedy centered on two recently divorced friends in New York City who move in together to save money. The production navigates the difficulties of two men adapting to life without their wives, trying to adjust to each other’s idiosyncrasies, and working to figure out the meaning of their lives. Though presented as a via negativa of the way man should live, The Odd Couple truly captures and amplifies the intricacies of adult men living in community, an aspect at the heart of seminary life.

from left to right: Michael Figura '26 (Omaha), Jimmy Muscatella '24 (Rochester), Joe Brodeur '24 (Providence), Kyle Lang '26 (La Crosse), (Green Bay), Elizabeth Smith, Michaela Glafke, Will Robbins '25 (Beaumont), Andrew Messer '25 (Toledo), Christian Hamrick '25 (Nashville),

Through participating in the creativity gifted to man by God, the cast and crew of the NAC play brought Neil Simon’s 1964 play to Rome for the benefit of the College. Whether in the construction of the mid-century Manhattan apartment for the set or the taking ownership of the individual characters, the NAC community embraced the creative process to bring this social commentary to life. The characters in the play may highlight the hilarity of life in common, but they are miserable men. It is through this via negativa that it becomes evident that the joy in life only comes when

God is at the center. This is the source of joy for the entire NAC community, even when the frustrations of communal life make one think, “You dumb ignoramus!”

The NAC Play is an annual dramatic production that is directed and performed by the seminarians at the Pontifical North American College. It features one closed performance for the College Community and one open performance for the friends of the College in Rome. Above are some of the productions performed by the NAC in previous years.

Nicholas Stellpflug '25 (Green Bay) plays Felix Ungar who is fastidiously organizing the poker table and serving refreshments. Alexander Turpin '26 (Albany), Andrew Westerman '24 (Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter), Nicholas Stellpflug '25 and Michael Rhodes '25 (Austin).

Easter Week 2023: Catholic


“I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink” (Matthew 25:35).

On the morning of April 10th, a group of NAC seminarians and priests, as well as staff from Catholic Relief Services arrived in Jijiga, Ehtiopia for a week-long journey to visit communities effected by a three-year drought. We learned about ongoing projects addressing local needs and returned home to share the good news—the Church in America is living the Gospel the world over!

We visited several kebeles (villages) and spoke with communities affected by drought. The communities and partners of Catholic Relief Services shared their top three needs: water, water, and water. Without access to water, these communities cannot produce crops or maintain their livestock. Without water, these communities lose not only their work, but also their livelihood.

In the first kebele, the entire community greeted us—waving palm branches, singing, and leading us to the water supply tank that transformed their

farmland into a thriving land. Collaborating with CRS and local partners to build a water scheme and plant drought-resistant crops, this kebele is one of the hundreds of communities that the work of Catholic Relief Services has touched with the mercy of Jesus Christ.

One day we met a community with over 20,000 people awaiting the opening of a well planned for two weeks after our visit. They shared that this will be the first time they have ever had constant access to clean water for their households. Until now, women travelled with donkeys for up to six hours each day to fetch water. When we asked what they were looking forward to with the new water supply, one woman simply said, “time to be with my family.” I think this speaks to the very heart of the Gospel message: bringing justice and mercy together.

Our Church’s work through Catholic Relief Services is justice oriented because we go to those most in need of the basic necessities of life. We

Just as water brings new life to us in baptism, so too are these Our engagement with the work of CRS is an important way
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The group in Ethiopia met with Bishop Angelo Pagano, Apostolic Administrator of the Harar Vicariate, and local leads of the Harar Catholic Secretariate, who explained various water supply projects.

Relief Services in Ethiopia

bring mercy, too, because CRS and their partners work in conjunction with communities to form sustainable solutions always centered on Gospel values. Respecting the rights and dignity of the human person, care for creation, the preferential option for the poor, solidarity, and the dignity of work are among those values highlighted in the work we witnessed in Ethiopia. These values are familiar to us because they are the principles of our Catholic Social Teaching rooted in the mission of Jesus in the Gospels.

For me, hearing water flow from the supply tank was symbolic of the Resurrection. Just as water brings new life to us in baptism, so too are these projects bringing new life to communities across Ethiopia. Our engagement with the work of CRS is an important way that we American Catholics are living the Gospel through the social teaching of the Church and creating change with and for our neighbors across the globe.

projects bringing new life to communities across Ethiopia. that we American Catholics are living the Gospel.

The refectory is transformed into a banquet hall before the Rector's Dinner on April 20th, 2023. Charles DeReuil II '26 (Saint Paul and Minneapolis) and Steven Lang '26 (Saint Paul and Minneapolis) prepare to serve the secondo. Five Rectors of the North American College: Bishop Checchio (Metuchen), Cardinal Dolan (New York), Msgr. Powers (Bridgeport), Rev. Harman (Springfield in Illinois), and Cardinal O'Brien. Bishop William Murphy '65, C'74 gives a speech as he accepts the Rector's Award. Msgr. Powers and Bishop Vetter (Chairman of the Board of Governors) with the Rector's Award Honorees: Mr. Patrick Kelly, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and Bishop William Murphy, Bishop Emeritus of Rockville Centre. The Pontifical North American College


Those who know me well know that I absolutely love stories of adventure and heroism, of good triumphing over evil and of dragons being slain. In many ways my time here at the North American College has been part of a great adventure story. I remember my first full day here—we walked down to Saint Peter’s Basilica to pray and as I entered the doors for the first time, my jaw dropped. Never have I felt so small. Like any hero must learn on an adventure, I realized that I am part of a much bigger story than I had previously thought. Saint Peter’s testifies that when we stand in the faith, we are standing on the shoulders of spiritual giants.

In the grand story of salvation, we are not the heroes. Jesus Christ is the true hero of God’s story—a story in which each one of us is invited to play a part. You are faithful men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, and members of the clergy. Thank you for saying yes to the role God has given you in his story. And of course, thank you for supporting the work of the North American College—a work that helps men like myself come to discern the part God is calling us to play in his story.

On May 27th, I will be ordained a priest of Jesus Christ. I will be forever transformed and shaped by my adventures here in Rome. As I approach ordination to the priesthood, I know another adventure is just beginning. May we always courageously and generously say “yes” when God calls us to adventure, for when we journey with Jesus Christ, there is no sin that cannot be forgiven, no darkness that cannot be illuminated, and no dragon that cannot be slain. Anything is possible.

Joe Wappes '24 (Saint Paul and Minneapolis) leads the Jazz Band that accompanied the Rector's Dinner. At the end of the night, the dinner concludes with some members of the NAC choir singing the Ave Maria. Msgr. Powers and Bishop Vetter '93 (Helena) pose with Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly during the Rector's Dinner. The Rector's Awards are displayed in the refectory before being presented to the recipients. REV. MR. RYAN GLASER ’23, ARCHDIOCESE OF SAINT PAUL AND MINNEAPOLIS Rev. Mr. Ryan Glaser '23 (Saint Paul and Minneapolis) speaks during the Rector's Dinner about his time in Rome at the NAC.

An Interview with Supreme Knight Patrick E. Kelly


Throughout your life, you have served in the military, the government, and the Church. How has your faith been impacted by these experiences?

My experiences serving in the military and government and for the Church have, each in different ways, served to deepen my faith and to strengthen my conviction about the importance of the Church’s voice in society. Serving in the Navy puts your mortality front and center. It forces you to reflect on what you believe about the most im-

portant things — and how you think about death. This raises the question — do I really believe? And for me, it drew me closer to Christ.

When I was serving in government, I was struck by how important the faith has been to the formation of our culture in the United States. A society needs to share certain fundamental values and ideals in order to remain coherent. I saw just how much the values that have long defined our nation originated from the Christian tra-

dition — for example, the dignity of every human life.

I know the Church must continue to speak the simple truth to the modern world: Jesus Christ is the answer to all our problems. I have grown to appreciate the long history of our faith and its ability to bring the truth to the world. I am more convinced than ever that the Church is the divine institution that it claims to be, and that it is the “pillar of truth” as St. Paul says.

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Patrick Kelly, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, gives a speech accepting the Rector's Award.

From 2011 to 2020 you were the Executive Director of the Saint John Paul II National Shrine and oversaw its renewal. How was the Eucharist at work in this renewal?

In 2011, I was given the task of taking what was then a “cultural center” and turning it into a place of prayer and pilgrimage. The Eucharist was central to that transformation. After all, the Eucharist is the heart of all renewal in the Church, whether it’s a shrine, a person’s life, or an ecclesial movement.

I think the combination of honoring the legacy of John Paul II and centering the shrine on the Eucharist is what brings so many thousands of people there each year. I have heard many powerful stories of personal renewal of people—priests included—who have had a deep encounter with Christ in the Eucharist and gained insight or conviction from reflecting on the life of John Paul II. To this day, I am filled with gratitude for that special place and I try to go to Mass there when I am in D.C.

The Knights are an important part of the Eucharistic Revival in the United States. What do you see as the role of the Knights in the U.S. Church? Has your faith been impacted in helping with the Eucharistic Revival?

The Knights of Columbus empowers Catholic men to live their faith and serve their family, parish, community, and country. So it was an easy decision to support the U.S. bishops with the National Eucharistic Revival. We’ve now experienced multiple generations of Catholics whose formation has been less than what it needs to be—many polls point to a lack of faith in Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. We are entering a missionary

phase for the Church in the U.S. and given our mission, it was clear that the Knights had to be engaged.

What the Knights can do first is strengthen men in their vocation and thereby strengthen the family. We view ourselves in constant service to the Church—our men and our councils should be the first ones our priests turn to when it comes to strengthening Eucharistic devotion in the parish. I think many people know of the extensive charitable work of the Knights of Columbus, but we welcome the opportunity to live out our commitment to spreading the faith. A great way to do that is by participating in this national revival effort.

The Knights of Columbus has a long history of support for the North American College, which you are continuing. Why do you think the mission of the College is so important?

The connection of support between Knights of Columbus and seminarians speaks to our care for the Church. Knights of Columbus love our priests and we love our future priests. That love was fundamental to our founding by Blessed Michael McGivney, whom successive popes have praised and pointed to as an exemplary priest.

And K of C support for our bishops’ seminary in Rome goes all the way back to the Via dell’ Umiltà. There is indeed something special about the NAC. The men who come here are imbued with a sense of the universality and the history of the Church, as well as with a strong tie to the Successor of St. Peter in a way that can’t be gained anywhere else. My sense is that studying in Rome is not for every man, and we most certainly support our seminarians wherever Knights of

Columbus are present, but in my opinion there’s real value in having a regular flow of men at work in the parishes of the U.S. with a very real and lived sense of the Church as catholic and who have lived here at the threshold of the Apostles.

How can individuals and families best participate in the Eucharistic Revival?

The first thing I would recommend is that people check in with their parishes and dioceses. As this is an initiative of the U.S. bishops, the bishops and priests are leading the way and we encourage a few different things: first, make certain Sunday Mass has pride of place and invite others to do the same. We must reclaim Sundays. They are essential for families and the Christian community.

Second, spend more time in personal and communal Holy Hours and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Time before the Lord changes everything, no matter where we are in our spiritual lives. Third, as Knights of Columbus, we’re big on processions. I’ve seen the massive impact they can have on both participants and passers-by — especially kids. It’s a public witness to the source and summit of our Catholic faith. We created a video resource on how to organize a Eucharistic procession so anyone can organize one. When a priest is willing, Knights are ready to make it happen.

But here’s the thing: if each of us, in whatever way we can, makes the Eucharist and the Mass better known and loved, the revival will be a success. I firmly believe that God wants to do things we can’t even imagine for each of us personally and for the Church, by way of this revival. n


Orvieto Corpus Christi


When I saw the notice on our bulletin board, “Archbishop of Orvieto invites all NAC seminarians to participate in the city’s Eucharistic Procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi,” I was at once excited, but then faced with an important decision to make. After a three-year break during COVID, finally it was my chance to participate in this centuries-old tradition, but the date of the procession, Sunday June 19th 2022, fell on the very day before my final and comprehensive examination to graduate with the Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology. I decided to follow my heart and to participate in the procession—it was one of the great blessings and opportunities I have had while studying in Rome.

As a young child I was captivated by the story of the Eucharistic miracle that occurred in Bolsena in 1263. A priest, plagued by doubt in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, was on pilgrimage to Rome. As he celebrated Mass, after the consecration, the Host began to bleed, staining the linen corporal, the altar cloth, and even the altar stone with the Blood of Christ. After an

investigation, Pope Urban IV, instituted a new feast in the liturgical calendar: Corpus Christi Thomas Aquinas composed the great hymns for the feast which I loved to sing as a child during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The of fer to participate in the procession where this great feast was instituted brought me back to these early memories of faith I received as a child.

After Mass in Orvieto’s Cathedral, the procession began in full medieval style: men and women in traditional costume, flags, banners, and instruments—twenty minutes worth of people proceeding forth from the great cathedral, all proclaiming and preparing the path through the city’s narrow streets. Our turn to process came with a great honor—four men at a time were asked to carry on our shoulders the monstrance housing the corporal of the Eucharistic miracle together with a consecrated Host of Our Lord above it.

A priest, plagued by doubt in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Mass, after the consecration, the Host began to bleed, staining with the Blood of Christ.
Rev. Mr. Daniel Scanlan '23 (Venice) and Rev. Mr. Richard Sofatzis '23 (Sydney) pose for a photo before the Eucharistic Procession outside the Cathedral in Orvieto.


When my turn came, the master of ceremonies directed the four bearers to turn off the path and enter a small church for a brief moment. Inside lay a remarkable bed of flower petals in an exquisite arrangement, and the four of us hesitated to continue, not wanting to walk over it. But when we heard the call “Avanti!”—meaning “Go forward!”—step-by-step we walked over the flowers, laid there to honour the Lord’s presence. Then began a choir of nuns singing the most angelic chants, while the Archbishop of Orvieto knelt down and incensed Our Lord saying, “Blessed be God!” several times over. The sweet perfume of the incense mixed with that of the flowers, while I felt the heavy weight of the solid-metal monstrance on my shoulder.

I could hardly stop the tear drops coming from my eyes, moved by the love and devotion of those present, including my own. Faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist kept this tradition alive for centuries. Never in my life had beauty captivated me

Eucharist, was on pilgrimage to Rome. As he celebrated the linen corporal, the altar cloth, and even the altar stone




With every stride I take, I place my feet along the streets of this historically rich city where the saints walked. I have desired to run a marathon since running Cross Country in high school and I figured coming to Rome would be a perfect opportunity. Training for the Rome Marathon has given me an excellent experience of the Eternal City.

Rome is filled with beautiful churches, but it also has several excellent, history preserving parks—the extravagant 17th century villas of the Borghese family and the Doria-Pamphili family, the sheep of Caffarella Park, which dates back at least to Vergil, and the ancient aqueducts, some of which existed before the birth of Christ. These are just a few of the beautiful, historic sights I am immersed in as I run around the city of Rome. While training for a marathon in a foreign country is by no means easy, it has given me the amazing opportunity to experience Rome in a unique way.


We need beauty; everyone does. Beauty is as necessary to mankind as food and air but without it, rather than die, we cease to be totally human. During World War II, Pope St. John Paul II didn’t fight in the battlefield, but he was part of a group struggling to keep Polish culture alive through poetry and plays. He was fighting for beauty. Rome is certainly beautiful, but it’s also easy to let it become routine. So, as another way to immerse ourselves in beauty, on Sunday evenings, many of us gather on the roof to read poetry, essays, and short stories. We discuss them, relax, and enjoy some food and each other’s company.

The Hopkins Society, named after the Victorian poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Hopkins, gives us a chance to better appreciate these works by sharing our insights and growing closer with one another in the process. I’m glad that I’ve been going and have even taken ideas from those nights to adoration. I’ve found that the more time I spend learning about beauty the easier it is to see beauty in my own vocation, in the Church, and in the Eucharist.

Steven Lang ’26, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Thomas Johnson ’26, Diocese of Great Falls-Billings


Recently while moving through the exhibit rooms of the Galleria Academia of Venice, I was reminded of how art tells stories. The first story depicted is that of the subject of the artwork itself, visible through the color and medium. Then, of course there are the stories of the individual artists and patrons who have commissioned the art. Finally, there is the societal story at work in the worldviews which are on display, especially as one quickly moves through time from ancient to medieval, from renaissance to mannerism, and from baroque to romanticism. Art museums tell human stories.

It was this story-telling quality of art that silently, but powerfully spoke to me when I visited the Academia. A painting by Marco Basaiti called “The Calling of the Sons of Zebedee” practically jumped off the wall towards me. This work from around 1470-1530 depicts the scene in the Gospels when the Lord calls the two sons to himself as his disciples. This painting fits well with the city of Venice, where fishing is an essential part of daily life. As I saw this work, I recalled my own vocation story from the Lord and it inspired a joy within me for the years ahead.


The first thing pilgrims see from the NAC tower, after St. Peter's Basilica, is without fail, the round, castle-like structure topped with a giant statue of St. Michael the Archangel. I had known this building, Castel Sant'Angelo, as the Pope's fortress—the place where he would take refuge if Rome were ever invaded. Indeed, in 1527 when Rome was sacked, Pope Clement VII, protected by the Swiss Guards, fled to Castel Sant'Angelo for refuge. Yet, even before the Popes took hold of this site, the original structure was Emperor Hadrian's tomb. In the year 139, Hadrian's ashes were laid here in a massive burial monument. Today's structure is the fruit of centuries of renovations.

One addition is the St. Michael statue. In the late 6th century, Rome was devasted by a plague. St. Gregory the Great, leading a procession, saw the Archangel on top of the monument, sheathing his sword, which indicated the end of the plague. As I concluded my visit to the Castel, I was blown away by the view from atop the "Angel's Terrace." This view rivals that of the NAC tower, but in its history, Castel Sant'Angelo is matchless.

Rev. Mr. Ben Pribbenow ’23, Diocese of Green Bay

A Sign of Abundance

About a year ago, I was sitting in one of our lounges with some other men from my archdiocese talking about what the NAC was like before the pandemic. In particular, the first and second-year men, who had never experienced our liturgies with the distribution of the Precious Blood. This caused us to wonder when or even if Communion from the chalice would return.

One man remarked, “If you believe in the true presence in the Eucharist, then you shouldn’t want the practice to return.” He was referring to a Church teaching called concomitance. The understanding that Christ is fully present in each of the Eucharistic species—the bread and the wine. We don’t receive any more grace from receiving Communion under bother species. Yes, I do believe in that teaching, but I also believe Jesus instituted the Eucharist under both species, choosing bread and wine for a reason. Researching this topic became the groundwork for my tesina—the final paper to conclude my STL degree before I return to America.

A few months later, Pope Francis delivered his most recent apostolic letter on the importance of the liturgy and liturgical formation: Desiderio Desideravi. One significant part was his call for us to reclaim our understanding of the signs and symbols present in our liturgical celebrations. This speaks to the primary reason for Communion under both species, which is the fullness of the sign of the Eucharistic banquet. While Christ is literally present in each species, he also communicates himself through both Eucharistic symbols—the bread and the wine.

Reception of the Blood of Christ communicates a wealth of symbolic language that enriches our celebration of the Eucharist. For instance, the Precious Blood comes to us appearing as wine, which is a sign of the abundance of God’s mercy and goodness. Christ’s first miracle produced an abundance of wine at the wedding feast of Cana.

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While Christ is literally present in each species, he also communicates
Rev. James Morgan '22 (Washington) elevates the precious blood during Mass at the station church of Sant'Eusebio.

Receiving Christ in the form of wine communicates to us this abundance of grace that comes from the Eucharist.

Likewise, the Body of Christ we receive, which appears as bread, also communicates through signs. Shortly before we receive communion at Mass, we pray the Our Father together and ask God for “our daily bread.” Christ coming to us in the form of bread signals to us that he is truly the daily sustenance that we need. Both species together remind us that God provides for us abundantly—both in our daily needs and beyond what we can imagine. There is a complementary nature between the two substances under which Christ humbly chose to be present to us.

Responding to the call of Pope Francis to deepen our understanding of the symbolic language in Mass and other liturgical celebrations has already enriched my young priesthood. I feel a deeper connection to the Paschal Mystery when I say the words of consecration over the bread and wine, which become the Body and Blood of Christ. n

himself through both Eucharistic symbols—the bread and the wine.


The solemn opening of the second vatican council

Del Priore

Re-Echoes are re-prints of pages from previous editions of Roman Echoes. Below we show the introduction to Roman Echoes from 1963, just after the beginning of the Second Vatican Council.


The earth quaked with shoutful deeds during the past year. Some caused Christ's words "wars and rumors of wars" to creep into the corner of the mind and gnaw there. These events will be sifted with the sands of time. Some will fall into a limbo of forgotten facts unworthy of note except by specializing historians. Others will take their rightful place in man's story as turning points in time. But though the earth quaked with these events, there was one that sent its tremors to the very floor of heaven: the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

The first tremors reach back to January 25, 1959, when His Holiness, Pope John XXIII, first announced his intention of convoking an Ecumenical Council. Since then wave after wave has passed through the Church and throughout the world.

Perhaps a Council always seemed before to be the concern of theologians in dusty-tomed libraries. True, the Councils have always been great manifestations of the workings of the Holy Spirit and each has sent its own shock - waves through history, but they have always seemed phenomena of an indefinite, almost unreal bygone age. Now a Council has been brought to a new, more vibrant meaning. Now, for the twentieth century, a Council means over 2500 white-robed successors of the Apostles, over 2500 present-day Pauls, Andrews, Judes, and Matthews filing into St. Peter's Basilica followed by the very successor of St. Peter himself. Now a Council means over 2500 mitered heads that have felt the terrible touch of twenty centuries of consecrating hands, over 2500 heavy-burdened heads pondering the most basic elements of man's pilgrimage on earth. Now a Council means the Bishop of Fairbanks or Raleigh discussing with a Bishop from Africa or India or Germany or Brazil the problems and glories ever old and ever new of Christ's Mystical Body.

Though elections are common and wars display a disconcerting tendency to recur, Ecumenical Councils are not common. The pageantry, rarity, and importance of the Council attracted the news retailers of the world. The sights of the Council flashed across the world on television, the sounds of the Council penetrated hidden corners of civilization on radio, the thoughts of the Council reached millions of minds through newspapers and magazines. ROMAN ECHOES wishes to add a few words.

The intent of this year's publication is not to present another series of "inside stories.'' That would be impossible. Instead, the list of conciliar commissions has provided a basic outline for the table of contents. Within this general framework, the articles deal with specific points of historical or background interest. Because of their content the articles may be read before, during, or after a session of the Council, and, it is hoped, they will provide a deepening of insight into the Council, its work, its problems, its decisions.

Reflections on the Eucharist in Culture

Babette’s Feast


Faced with the task of writing for an American audience, Danish author Karen Blixen followed the advice of a friend. “Just write about food,” her friend said. “Americans are obsessed with food.” The result was Babette’s Feast, a short story on which Gabriel Axel’s well-known 1987 film is faithfully based. It offers insight into the notion that sensible things spur us to things divine.

In the story, two aging Norwegian sisters take in Babette—a French Catholic refugee, to work as their housekeeper. The Lutheran sisters are accustomed to a life of puritanical simplicity, while Babette, a former professional chef, acutely understands that beauty leads us to God.

After twelve years of loyal service, Babette wins the lottery, and instead of using the money to return to France, she freely and self-sacrificially spends it all to prepare a feast. As the evening progresses, the elegant food and wine bring the guests to forgive debts, recount miracles, and strengthen bonds. “Most often people in Berlevaag during the course of a good meal would come to feel a

little heavy,” writes Blixen. “Tonight it was not so. The convives grew lighter in weight and lighter in heart the more they ate and drank.” That night, “time itself had merged into eternity.”

Sensible things spur us to things divine, understands Babette along with the Catholic Church. A meal sustains the body and reminds us that God sustains our whole being. A great meal points to our “true food” and “true drink,” Christ’s Body and Blood by which we are strengthened in the good, restored to unity with God and his Church, and given delight in Our Lord’s embrace. Thus, when we feast on the Eucharist, freely and self-sacrificially given for our benefit, heaven touches earth. Time meets eternity.

We fast, yes, but we also feast. So let’s eat! Let’s eat well with friends and family; let’s eat joyfully, forgiving debts and strengthening bonds. Let’s eat the true food and true drink of the Eucharist. And let us come hungry to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, where our deepest desires will be sated for all eternity.

The Lord of the Eucharist

“Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated,” writes J.R.R. Tolkien to his son, “I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: The Blessed Sacrament." The Lord of the Rings author believed the Eucharist contained all that we seek: “romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth.” This Eucharistic devotion shows forth in the lembas bread of his stories—special wafers made by elves that give courage and strength, especially in trying times. Lauded by the elves as “more strengthening than any food made by men,” and savored by Gimli the Dwarf (“better than the honey-cakes of the Beornings!”), the lembas accompanies the band of heroes on their quest. As the lembas acts as nourishment and a sign of the world’s goodness, even in the darkest places, so Jesus nourishes us in the Eucharist, an undying reminder of a world redeemed that he promised at the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel: “Behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

A Temple of the Holy Ghost


“The sun was a huge red ball like an elevated Host drenched in blood and when it sank out of sight, it left a line in the sky like a red clay road hanging over the trees.” This concluding line of Flannery O’Connor’s "A Temple of the Holy Ghost" is an anomaly in her work. Paradoxically, the greatest American Catholic writer of fiction seldom wrote of Catholics, preferring instead the small-town, Protestant setting of her native Georgia after the Second World War. Here is a rare story in which she writes explicitly of Catholics, and even of the Eucharist.

She portrays the spiritual coming-of-age of “The Child,” a twelve-year-old girl whose older, second-cousins Susan and Joanne visit for a weekend away from Mount St. Scholastica’s convent school. Upon returning from the county fair, they recount for the child what they saw: a mysterious tent in which a hermaphrodite (called a “freak”) reveals his condition, and speaks to men and women separated by a curtain in a rapturous, quasi-liturgical dialogue of serene praise to God for his perplexing state. At the heart of this dialogue lies the refrain that he and his audience are all “temples of the Holy Ghost,” created by God and made holy by the dwelling of his Spirit.

Fascinated by this puzzling revelation, the child experiences her own epiphany the next day, when she and her mother attend benediction at Mount St. Scholastica’s after driving the cousins back. Before the Sacred Host, the child is struck by the presence of God and a sudden desire to turn from her sins of pride and unkindness. She returns home changed, and the image of the elevated Host

leaves its cosmic traces in her imagination as she watches the sunset.

Like all O’Connor’s stories, its contents are strange Strangeness, in fact, is her method of awakening her readers to the surprising work of grace. She wrote, “to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.” In this case, the “freak” in the tent is an icon of the sacredness of the human person in his most intimate dimension. In his acceptance of his strange condition, this “freak” knows himself to be created by a God whose ways are beyond our understanding, who has sent his Spirit to dwell within us bodily creatures.

The strange figure in the tent prepares the protagonist for her encounter with the strangest mystery of them all, the Holy Eucharist, where the one in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col 2:9) still encounters us today. As with the child, he surprises us with our sacredness and our sinfulness. Meeting us in real, perplexing, tangible form, he does not leave us the same. Encountering him in the Eucharist prompts us to live as temples of the Holy Spirit—adopted children in whom God dwells.

In all its strangeness, the fiction of Flannery O’Connor is fired by Eucharistic revival. Using figures drawn from her homeland, she, a strange Catholic, imparts the essence of Eucharistic faith. She wrote once of the Eucharist, “If it’s just a symbol, to hell with it.” Because it is far more than a symbol, the Eucharist continually transforms and sparks conversion: in literature, art, culture, and in each one of us.

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top left Michael Rhodes '25 (Austin) receives his first Holy Communion on November 17, 2017, at St. Mary's Catholic Center in College Station, TX. bottom left Michael Rhodes '25 (Austin) receives the Sacrament of Confirmation, marking his reception into the Church. top right Five years after his first Holy Communion, Michael is instituted to the Ministry of Acolyte as he receives the paten containing the bread to be offered in the Eucharist. bottom right Nicholas Waldron '25 (Rockville Centre), Michael, and Will Robbins '25 (Beaumont) are frequent grill masters for community cookouts.

A Long Night with God


“They’re going to sacrifice me.” These are the words I thought to myself at the age of eight when I attended my first Mass. Incense filled the air, and strange languages were being chanted. My fear was probably brought on by a too early viewing of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Yet, when the Mass ended, I walked out with a sense of wonder. I had just encountered something supernatural. I did not know about the Eucharist or the difference between the Catholic Church and my Baptist church. But, that Mass planted a seed that would sprout many years later.

I grew up going to Sunday school and attending Vacation Bible School at our local Baptist church. We would have contests to see how many scripture verses we could memorize, but I did not give faith much thought.

Years later, I dated a young lady who liked to “church hop.” One Sunday at a non-denominational, Bible church, we sat down and a praise and worship band began to play. And play. And play. I thought to myself, “When is the service going to start?” After the music, the pastor gave a thirty-minute sermon, and then, the music began again. When we left I thought to myself, “Why do I feel like I haven’t gone to church?” I realized something was missing, and I was determined to figure out what it was.

In the following weeks, I found myself desiring to pray yet not knowing how. I did not feel like I even knew who God was, but I had a deep longing for the Truth.

Memories of that first Mass kept coming up in my head along with the memory of my grandparents praying the Rosary together each evening when they visited us. That mysterious feeling I had leaving Mass at the age of eight drew me to examine the Catholic Faith more closely.

I began to pray the Rosary, but my Baptist upbringing left me feeling uneasy praying to Mary. I even asked God to forgive me if the way I was praying was idolatrous! Eventually, I start-

ed to read about the Catholic understanding of the Blessed Virgin. I devoured everything I could find on the teachings of the Catholic Church. It was all so logical, and I believed everything until I reached the Church’s understanding of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. This was a hard one to swallow.

I stared at the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John where Christ says: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats and drink my blood has eternal life” (John 6:53). Where had this piece of scripture been all of my life? Just minutes ago, I had been one of the people who said, “This is a hard saying: who can listen to it?” Now, I was comparing translations of this chapter across multiple Bibles. That evening, I stayed up all night pondering what I had read. When the sun came up the next morning, I knew the Catholic Church preserved the truth I longed for.

The very next weekend, I went to the Vigil Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Center in College Station, Texas, and for the first time in my life, I knew why I was kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer.

I was kneeling before Jesus Christ really and truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. In the Eucharist I had found what my heart had been longing for all my life.

I suppose it is fitting that the first Mass I attended gave me the impression that “they’re going to sacrifice me,” since the Mass is a sacrifice and the Church’s Liturgy expresses that in a very real way. Now that I am in seminary formation, I strive each day to conform my heart to the Heart of Jesus Christ. As his priest I will one day say, “This is my body, which will be given up for you.” As his priest, I will lay down my life in sacrifice for the people of God to make Christ present really and truly to his Church in the Most Blessed Sacrament. God truly has “put into my heart a marvelous love for the faithful ones who dwell in his land” (Ps. 16). n


Mother Knows Best


It is often said that “mother knows best.” A saying sure, but when lived, welcomes domestic rest. Mother to mother, this theme rings true. Though when adhered to as Mother, Radiates a brilliant new hue.

A hue, sometimes white, but often blue, Enfolds the One who makes all things new. Wrapped under mantle secure and warm, The first Eucharistic procession. In simplicity though with beauty adorned.

Into the hill country does Mother go, To another mother whose child, the forerunner, we know. Leaps for joy at the sight of Mother, But whose joy proclaims, if not more, The arrival of Another.

Ah! Such an arrival, how must it have been, To experience that joy, as if it were then. But this joy is for all, not only some, For the One whom Mother bore, Our salvation, at each Mass he comes.

How can this be? It seems to make no sense, But eyes of faith pierce through, and only then can commence, A love without end, a love stronger than death. A love that we may know, this is our quest, But why not start with Mother? She always knows best.


The Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated every year on March 25th, exactly nine months before the birth of Christ at Christmas. The Feast commemorates the angel Gabriel’s “announcement” to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would conceive and be the mother of the incarnate Son of God. Mary responds faithfully and humbly, fiat (let it be done). When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we follow Mary’s example and in our own humble way say, AMEN (so be it)!


Rev. Mr. Daniel Scanlan ’23, Diocese of Venice

Mary, our loving mother, models for us the attitude we are called to live following our reception of Jesus in the Eucharist. In her visitation to Elizabeth, after Mary receives Jesus in the Annunciation, she goes in "haste" to Elizabeth who is in need during her pregnancy. As Elizabeth was in need, so are all those around us. The Church calls us to go in "haste" upon receiving Jesus in the Eucharist to share and be witnesses of his love to others: "Go forth, glorifying the Lord by your life."


After hearing the good news from the Angel of the Lord, the shepherds “found” and encountered the Holy Family in Bethlehem. Receiving the news of the angel with a true and sincere faith, they were able to receive Jesus themselves through an encounter with the Holy Family. Imagine the conversation they could have had with Mary who may have further confirmed that Jesus truly is the Lord. Mary and Joseph invite others to encounter Jesus—we can likewise encounter Jesus in the Eucharist and be fed by Him.

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A Lesser Known Holy Land

It is easy to forget what a prominent role Egypt plays in the Sacred Scriptures, within the stories of both the Old and New Testaments. From Joseph the son of Israel (of “technicolor dreamcoat” fame), to Moses and the Exodus, to the flight of the Holy Family, Egypt has been a place of both refuge and bondage throughout salvation history.

Following final exams in February, a group of priests from the Casa with our superior Fr. Jim Conn, S.J., had the opportunity to visit and experience many of these holy sites on a pilgrimage to Cairo and Sinai. We visited shrines marking locations of the Holy Family’s flight and followed the route of the Israelites through the desert to Mt. Sinai, along the way checking out the Pyramids and Sphinx, which make the Colosseum look like recent construction. Then at Sinai itself we were able to visit the site of the burning bush and climb the mountain for a beautiful (if cold!) sunrise.

At places like these, in the moment it can be hard to grasp the fact that we are standing where such important events of salvation history unfolded. To stand on the peak where Moses received the Ten Commandments or the shore where the Holy Family embarked to travel down the Nile River, we are reminded of the reality of our faith and the fact that it is more than some myth—it is thee story of the human family and the long path by which God has called us into a relationship with him. Especially preparing for Lent, as we crossed the desert

we were given a stark vision of that Exodus journey through the desert, which is meant to mirror our journey through the wilderness of penitence to the promised land of Easter joy. Moreover, visiting a number of Christian monasteries and communities, we were able to see the way in which people of faith have persevered against great trials in the wilderness

which can often be daily life, finding strength and sustenance in Our Lord and the gift of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

Grateful for the blessing of this journey, we returned to Rome enriched by the spiritual fruits of such a pilgrimage, having walked together, out of Egypt, with each other and our Lord. n

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Priests from the Casa Santa Maria pose for a photo after celebrating Mass with a local religious community in Egypt on their pilgrimmage during the semester break. Surge et accipe puerum et matrem eius et fuge in Aegyptum - Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt (Mt 2:13)

Grandeur Evokes Awe, But Love Transforms

It is a once in a lifetime experience, re-energizing, spirituality nourishing, broadening the horizon of understanding, blessing, and much more could be said about my time in the Holy Land as part of the ICTE sabbatical program.

Before my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I had the privilege of visiting many basilicas and churches in Rome. The lifelike sculptures, artistic beauty, perfection of paintings, creative architectural styles, the mosaic marvels, and the stories behind them fascinated me. Awe and wonder were the result of these visits. In contrast, during the first four days of our pilgrimage in the Holy Land, we visited various places around the Sea of Galilee where Jesus ministered. The simplicity of the setting was very captivating. I came back with the realization that Christ’s ministry then and now does not require grand settings. In other words, our investment in grandiosity is not a requirement for Christ’s genuine ministry—it can take place in a hospital room, it can take place in walking with someone on their journey of life, it can take place with a compassionate utterance anywhere, it can take place with an outstretched hand in a street corner, and more.

On another note, we live by the values we celebrate. If we do not live a value, celebrating it become meaningless. For example, a divorced couple celebrating a marriage anniversary is a joke. Similarly, when we live by the values and celebrate them, the values are re-enforced and the persons are re-energized to live by them—it is the same with the Eucharist. In his ministry, Jesus lived the value of giving oneself to the Father’s will and celebrated it at the Last Supper. He continued to live it in his suffering and death.

The best way to make Eucharist meaningful for oneself is to become Eucharist or break oneself on the world altar. Cosmetic changes can never be a substitute for this. A mother of five once said to me, “When I had given it all for my family and came to the Eucharist, I perfectly understood Jesus’ words ‘this is my body broken for you,’ a meaning I could not discover from theological books—that love transformed me.” Pilgrims come to the Holy Land to be transformed by this kind of love.

After the sabbatical and Holy Land pilgrimage, I go back with these realizations: Christ’s ministry does not require a grand setting, the more I live Eucharist, the more meaningful the celebration becomes, and grandeur evokes awe, but love transforms! I thank, Fr. Edward Linton, our director, and the PNAC community for facilitating this experience for all of us at ICTE. n

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Priests at the Institute for Continuing Theological Education visit with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, during their pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

On An Evening In Roma

The 29th Annual Rector’s Dinner held on April 20th was a record-breaking milestone in a long history of fundraising events for the College. NAC benefactors eagerly flocked to Rome to spend time with our seminarians enjoying their hospitality and the unique experience of visiting a Roman seminary.

The Rector’s Dinner is the anchor event for what some call “American Week” in Rome. Other nonprofits such as the Papal Foundation, FOCUS, EWTN, and the Napa Institute schedule their events in Rome specifically around our Dinner to maximize attendance from Americans in the Eternal City. It is a “win-win”, and we are grateful for the collaboration.

Invitations were sent in early January, and by mid-February we were on the verge of selling out. The popularity of our two honorees, Bishop William Murphy and Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly, attracted much support. In addition, many joined in the festivities to celebrate with Msgr. Thomas Powers, our new rector hosting his first Dinner.

In the end we were able to accommodate almost everyone who wanted to attend, and 440 supporters descended on the Janiculum Hill on a beautiful Spring evening. Gathering outside in the cortile (courtyard), they enjoyed wine, canapes, and the company of one another. Thirteen Cardinals and thirty Bishops were among our international guests.

Soon, the bell rang signaling time to move in doors to the refectory. Opening remarks from Msgr. Powers and seminarian Rev. Mr. Michael Nugent were offered before Board of Governors Chairman, Bishop Austin Vetter, blessed the meal. With much anticipation, the first course prepared by the College kitchen and served by our seminarians was served.

The Rector’s Award was presented separately to our honorees. Bishop Murphy spoke of his love for the College as an alumnus and of his frequent encouragement to seminarians to always remember that they will first and foremost be a parish priest. Patrick Kelly reflected on the long history between the Knights of Columbus and the College, and the theme of fatherhood as embodied by Blessed Michael McGivney.

Entertainment by our seminarians is always a highlight of the Rector’s Dinner. The NAC Jazz Band performed standard hits throughout dinner. After Rev. Mr. Ryan Glaser’s testimonial (see page 23), six members of the NAC choir sang a cappella “Ave Maria” to the delight of the audience. In a fitting conclusion to our time together, a seminarian intoned the Regina Caeli with the guests joining joyfully.

This year was the 10th Rector’s Dinner I have planned, coordinated, and attended. It has all the hallmarks of a typical nonprofit gala except that it takes place in Rome, at the Seminary, and is produced by our seminarians which makes this event truly extraordinary.

Numerous guests told me this was by far the best Rector’s Dinner ever. Perhaps. I think any time spent with our seminarians is extraordinary because they are the future of the Church and our hope - and thanks be to God for that!

To all our 29th Annual Rector’s Dinner supporters, thank you!

Two new improvement projects were announced at the Rector’s Dinner. To learn more and see how you can help, scan the QR code

For more information about The Pontifical North American College, subscription questions, or to learn about ways you can financially support “America’s Seminary in Rome,” please contact Mark Randall, CFRE, Executive Director, Institutional Advancement.

Tel: (202) 541-5411 I Fax: (202) 470-6211 I Email: I Website:

42 42 The Pontifical North American College

For a preview of the kind of preaching you can look forward to from future priests being formed at the NAC, scan and watch Aaron Salvan, a Third-Year seminarian from the Archdiocese of New York, preaching a homily on the Gospel for the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God (Luke 2:16-21).

Sketch by Stephen Howard '26, Archdiocese of Sydney.
The Pontifical North American College Office of Institutional Advancement 3211 Fourth Street, NE Washington, D.C. 20017-1194

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Articles inside

On An Evening In Roma

pages 42-43

Grandeur Evokes Awe, But Love Transforms

page 41

A Lesser Known Holy Land

page 40

Mother Knows Best

pages 38-39

A Long Night with God

page 37

A Temple of the Holy Ghost

pages 35-36

The Lord of the Eucharist

page 34

Reflections on the Eucharist in Culture Babette’s Feast

page 34


page 33

A Sign of Abundance

pages 30-31


page 29


page 29


page 28


page 27

Orvieto Corpus Christi

page 26

An Interview with Supreme Knight Patrick E. Kelly

pages 24-25


page 23

Relief Services in Ethiopia

pages 21-22

Easter Week 2023: Catholic

page 20

Creativity in Community

pages 18-19

College Night

pages 16-17

Carl J. Peter Lecture: Preaching Against Racism

page 15


page 14

Teaching the Eucharist

page 13

EWTN Documentary: Christ for Others

page 12


page 11

A Burning Heart

pages 8-9

Sailing Home

pages 6-7


page 5
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