THE MANY PRIVILEGES AND JOYS OF BEING AN AUNT
Friday, May 16, 2014
As I was preparing the news segment of this weekends edition of Vatican Insider, I went to check on the days papal activities, and saw that there were no events listed for Pope Francis. Knowing that it had been decided to postpone this Sundays visit and Mass at the Roman shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love to free up the Popes schedule to prepare for his Holy Land trip, I found myself wondering: Is Pope Francis OK?

And, not long afterwards, this note arrived: In the wake of the postponement of the Holy Father's morning commitments, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., made the following communication this morning: The Pope celebrated Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae with the faithful this morning as usual, but has postponed the audiences scheduled for this morning due to a minor indisposition.

On my recent trip to the US, a number of people told me (echoing what I have heard here as well) they wish Pope Francis would slow down a bit or even take some time away at Castelgandolfo. Time off from audiences and meetings doesnt mean you stop working: you just work in a different manner. I know from a tightly-packed, non-stop schedule of my own the last two weeks in April (the canonization events and preparations for TV coverage, visitors to Rome, embassy receptions, lunches and dinners and countless other events), followed by a non-stop week in the U.S. that the body will say slow down at a certain point. Thats what I learned this past week. Perhaps a minor indisposition for the Pope is simply that time to slow down. We need you, Francis!

Speaking of the Shrine of Divine Love Divin Amore: I prepared a special about this shrine for VATICAN INSIDER this weekend and, even though the papal visit and Mass have been postponed, I will air that story. If you are listening to the program in Rome, perhaps you could make plans to visit this historic and beautiful place while in Italy. I intend to renew my acquaintance with Divin Amore and will bring you photos after that visit.

Id like to end this week with a happy column about my recent visit to the U.S., so read on..

THE MANY PRIVILEGES AND JOYS OF BEING AN AUNT

In the almost five days I was in Fox Point with my niece Christie, her husband Bryan, and their children Cece 4, Emory 6, Cole 8 and Brogan 10 (and scores of assorted relatives who came to celebrate Coles First Communion on May 4), I also attended three soccer matches, Coles 8th birthday on May 5, a school May Crowning on the 6th, and I spoke to the classes of the three boys at St. Monicas school!

Early morning with the kids, Mass and school, and late evenings, catching up on events with my sister-in-law and a number of nieces, nephews and cousins, made for a very quick vacation period. And all of a sudden I was on the train again for Chicago to spend time with my cousin Luanne before returning to Rome.

Because of living abroad for so long, I had never attended the First Communion of a niece or nephew until Coles. He gave me a double hug when he learned I had come to the States just for that Big Day! I have to praise thje teachers at St. Monica for an initiative they have taken for the new First Communicants. They send a letter to parents and ask that they, in turn, send it to friends and relatives, asking them to tell what the young man or young girls means to them. The beautiful volume, composed of these letters and photos, as well as work the youngsters did in school about the meaning of First Communion, is a joy to behold, and a true gift to the youngsters and their families.

I was touched when Cole read what he had written about his First Communion, what questions he would ask God face to face, and how he intends to be a good and faithful Christian. However, I was most touched before we left for the May crowning on Tuesday morning. Cole asked me which rosary he should bring to church (the First Communicants, dressed as they had been on Sunday, were the honor escort to the students crowing Mary), as he had received one from me, blessed by Pope Francis, and a lovely rosary from another relative.

I suggested he could alternate rosaries one today, the other next Sunday at Mass, and so on. His face lit up with a smile and his own solution! He said he would bring bothrosaries in case a friend forgot theirs and he could loan him (or her) a rosary!

I am SURE I was not that thoughtful or caring at 8!

And so the days went by family fun and games, especially with Cece.

Just a few photos from those days (no special order):

Coles First Communion Class:

His Cinco de Mayo birthday:

With Christie, their Mom, at bedtime:

Speaking to Coles class at St. Monica (about Rome, the Vatican, the Pope, the new saints, my work whatever the kids wanted to know):

Answering questions from Brogan and his classmates:

With the First Communicant:

Hugs after Cole received the papal blessing and rosary:

Christie, Bryan and the kids after First Communion Mass (90 children made their First Communion at 3 different Masses over 2 days!)

Speaking to Emorys class the six-year olds:

Thanks for allowing me to share!

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