PREPARING A PAPAL BIRTHDAY LUNCHEON: A CONVERSATION WITH FRANCO NUSCHESE - HONOLULU AND FATHER DAMIEN
Friday, September 05, 2008
PREPARING A PAPAL BIRTHDAY LUNCHEON: A CONVERSATION WITH FRANCO NUSCHESE

You are not going to want to miss this weekends edition of my radio show, Vatican Insider! Not only do I bring you the weekly summary of news from the Vatican and the answer to a question about inscriptions on the floor of St. Peters Basilica in the Q&A segment, I will bring the Popes caterer right into your living room (or office or car). My interview this week, in fact, features Franco Nuschese, a name you know from my trip to the States in April to cover Pope Benedicts visit. You will recall that Franco, the owner of Cafe Milano restaurant in Washingtons tony Georgetown neighborhood, prepared the Holy Fathers 81st birthday luncheon, served at the apostolic nunciature in Washington.

Here you see Franco as he holds the service plate designed for the papal birthday celebration by a friend from his native Amalfi Coast. And here is a close-up of the beautiful ceramic service plate.

To hear the show: Tune in to a local radio station that carries EWTN, to Sirius satellite radio or listen via computer (www.ewtn.com, click RADIO, click LISTEN LIVE and do this Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and Sunday at 4:30 p.m. all times ET). Enjoy!

HONOLULU AND FATHER DAMIEN

On Friday, August 1, I had a 10 a.m. appointment with Bishop Larry Silva of the diocese of Honolulu which, as you know, embraces all of the Hawaiian islands. I had a fair idea from a map where the chancery was in downtown Honolulu on Bishop Street! - even though I had not yet been to this part of the city, and I left my hotel at 9:30 so as to be on time. I asked the front desk where I could get a taxi and was told there was one just outside the door. I looked and all I saw was a verrry long white limousine. I had seen scores and scores of similar white limos since my arrival. I was about to say that what I really wanted was a taxi when I saw a sign atop the car that said TAXI!

It was indeed a taxi and I was taken to the bishops office in style, luxuriating in every second of the 20-minute ride all at the regular metered-fee I would have paid in any nonlimousine taxi. Here is what I enjoyed!!

I will write about my wonderful conversation with Bishop Silva another day.

After my visit with the bishop I went right next door to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, which this years celebrates its 165th anniversary. Built by the Religious of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Father Damiens congregation - the cathedral was dedicated on the feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1843. This is one of the oldest cathedrals in the United States and, it seems, the oldest in-continuous-use cathedral. Here is a photo of the lovely gilded statue of Our Lady of Peace in the courtyard next to the church as she faces the pali, the cliffs of Honolulu. There are two more images of her inside the cathedral. Blessed on December 24, 1893, the statue is said to mark the spot where it is believed the first small wooden missionary church stood.

My email pen-pal of long-standing, Linda Cacpal whom I was to meet for the first time after my visit to the cathedral had phoned earlier and told me to look up the sacristan, Laurie. I did just that and had a splendid visit as a result, including permission to visit the sacristy where I saw this lovely stained glass window of Fr. Damien.

These two paintings are inside the church: Blessed Father Damien and Blessed Mother Marianne Cope.

Here is the cathedral interior.

The current altar which you see in the photo above has a large screen behind it that separates the main body of the church from the original sanctuary and the stunning marble altar where Damien was ordained a priest on May 21, 1864.

This screen was built years ago by one of the ordinaries who felt that, since the church did not have any chapels, they could create one by building a screen. Indeed this area has become a sanctuary for people who want to pray a rosary or just say hello to Our Lady or St. Anthony their lunch break. To be honest, many parishioners would like to see this screen removed so that everyone could always see the magnificent sanctuary area and altar.

As I left the cathedral, there was a gathering of diocesan personnel, in the presence of local media, including Bishop Silva, who were there to create awareness of domestic violence. Signs were in many languages including Samoan and Tagalog. Bishop Silva is on the far right in this photo.

I finally meet Linda - whom the bishop has known far longer than I have. I am wearing an extremely beautiful lei, made entirely of orchids, that Linda gave me as a welcome gift.

Mahalo thank you Linda!

Aloha until we meet again! Have a lovely weekend!

joansrome@ewtn.com




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