Some of the pictures may be a little disappointing, but the evening sure wasn’t. Some of you may have guessed that I was going to the CCO (Catholic Christian Outreach) Gala Dinner. If so, you would have been correct! Now, I’m not easily impressed. I think most things are good, but hardly ever great. Last night was a delightful exception.
The night began with holy mass in beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa, presided over by none other than William Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (SCDF).
His Eminence hadn’t a strong gait, but his voice was sonorous and clear – a voice worthy of his office, I thought. Do you realize that in the entire history of the Church he is the highest ranking American prelate - ever! He spoke again at the dinner itself, which was the pinnacle of the evening’s program. It was a learned and inspiring talk on Christian missionary work at the university campus. It was pleasant to see touches of genuine humour fittingly inserted into an important message. He has a sense of humour about his own office, but not in any manner deprecatory.
My personal goal – I’d like to say that it was just one of them – but it was really the single one, was to kiss the Cardinal’s ring. The Prefect was sitting with my good friend, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, who introduced me and upon which time I set my modest plan in motion. Once having accomplished it, I had a real nunc dimittis moment. Is there anything left to do in this life of mine? I suppose, you know, live virtuously, work for the salvation of my family and all that, but nothing really interesting is left to do. I’ve just done it all, and I’m only 35 years old!
It is my policy to kiss the rings of all bishops – I’ve just never done it before. I had to draw the line with the number 2 or 3 man in Rome. It is to begin a real springtime of hand-kissing for me, and perhaps for the Church as a whole. Ideally one should kiss the hands of all priests, i.e. those hands consecrated to transubstantiate, but maybe for a while I’ll stick with bishops, just to get the hang of it.
I attended the mass and dinner with my OLSWA colleagues – Dr. and Mrs. Cassidy, and our Director of Development, Miss Maria Reilander.
Maria is a real student of the Theology of the Body, being a grad of the JPII Institute in Washington, and so we had a really nice discussion on the way back to Barry’s Bay last night.
Maria and I also met the new nuncio to Canada, His Grace, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana. I was equally impressed by him. I have a really sensitive heebie-geebie radar, and yet both of these prelates made a very good impression on me, as warm, holy, and smart priests. Our Holy Father is a really good judge of character.
You know, for me, the neatest part of the night was that when about a half hour after I had met the Prefect I went back to take these pictures of the two prelates, His Eminence actually remembered my name! It takes a special person who can remember the name of someone he had just met in a room of 500+ people.
Special thanks to his Grace, Archbishop Prendergast for taking these pictures. In case you are wondering, and if memory serves me, in the first one with Cardinal Levada I am explaining to him where Our Lady Seat of Wisdom is, and in the second I am asking him to come visit us!
This final picture is of Archbishop Prendergast and a great supporter of the Academy, Mr. Mark Woermke.