Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Dinner with a Former Classmate (Ash Wednesday)

It does seem that I ate more in Rome on Ash Wednesday than any of the other days that I was there. Ash Wednesday evening I met Father Bernard O'Connor who is with the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. I'll let Father describe how he came into this position as he explained it to those at Eastern Michigan University where he last taught:

"My bishop was looking to move me to other countries, but said my experience pointed to Rome," said O'Connor, who has United Nations certifications in peace support operations, international humanitarian law, and peacekeeping and international conflict resolution. He has also written a book, "Pope John Paul II: Papacy Diplomacy and the Culture of Peace."

I met the Pope several times and found that he had an incredible sense of humor," said O'Connor. "The first time I met him, I knelt to kiss his ring and had the Pope tell me, 'You better stand up because I can't lift you.'"

This last point he related to me at dinner, as well as saying when he had met Amy and the children just before I had come that Joseph had said to him "You're a fat man." I told Amy about this later and she was flabergasted and said he had said nothing of the sort, but after thinking about it she remembered that Joseph had in fact said, "You're batman," four year old boys.

Father O'Connor and I went over common acquaintances and what had become of them in the fifteen years since we both had been students at Creighton University in Omaha. We also marveled at how he knew Amy's parents when he had befriended their next door neighbor in Knoxville, TN where Father O'Connor received a law degree from the University of Tennessee.

I let him order my dinner, and was told it would be grilled fish. It was...grilled octopus, squid among other things mostly distinguisable because the heads were still attached.

Father O'Connor has an article in Inside the Vatican this month.

Evening came...Ash Wednesday, penance.