One of the great joys of Seminary life is having company. I imagine it is the same for many stations in life, however I think in a special way seminarians love to have visitors. Since being at St. Mary's I have been very fortunate to have several wonderful people come and visit including my family, friends, former students and priests from home. Each visitor brings with them a breath of fresh air, an excuse to escape the confines of the Seminary campus and a reason to put off work.
This week I was blessed to have three sets of visitors, each who brought their own joy. On Wednesday Night my cousin Patty and I had dinner in Baltimore's inner harbor. Patty lives in North Carolina with her family and was in town for a major IBM convention. Having not seen Patty for several years it was wonderful to catch up on old times and to share a night out on the town. She kindly took me to Cheesecake Factory where we dined like kings and enjoyed a beautiful Baltimore evening. The weather was perfect so we opted to eat outside on the patio overlooking Baltimore's inner harbor. About half way through our meal I saw something run behind my cousin's chair. Not wanting to scare her I said nothing. A few minutes later I saw a brush of fur run by. I was a little disgusted and figured it was a small mouse and kept eating. It wasn't until we were done our meal that I looked over beside her chair and saw what had to be the world's largest rat. Now many of you may presume I am exaggerating, but I assure you I am not! The rat was the size of small cat and could easily have weighed ten pounds. I nearly died of shock and it ran away. Needless to say we quickly motioned the waitress and called it a night. If you are in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore beware of the giant rat.
If you see it you will know what I am talking about. If you can catch and tame it I assure you could get a saddle and ride it to school!
On Friday night I was able to go out for Dinner with the Dunn Family from Manchester. The Dunns were in town for family weekend at Loyola University (2 blocks from St. Mary's) where their daughter, and my brilliant former student, MariBriege attends. Peter, Kelly, MariBriege and little Patrick and I went out to Baltimore's famous Cafe Hon Restaurant. Cafe Hon is a unique family restaurant with an eclectic combination of memorabilia. It was great to catch up with them all and to spend an evening with real people. When you are in the Seminary and spend all of your time with seminarians and priests it is easy to get a strange sense of reality.
On Saturday my Aunt Susie was in town for a national convention of Urban Boards of Education. She is on the Board of Education for Jersey City, NJ. My Aunt and I were able to meet up for lunch and I was able to give her a tour of the Seminary. She is an incredible woman with a heart of gold, and she has been very supportive of my journey to priesthood. It was wonderful to be able to show her where I study and to share an afternoon together.
Saturday Night I joined seven other seminarians and the Rector of the Seminary at the Archdiocese of Baltimore's Gala for Catholic Education. The evening was a huge fund-raising event for Catholic Schools, something that is right up my alley. The Archdiocese was able to sell out the evening's Gala and raise close to a million dollars for the support of schools! The evening featured great food, music, and a live auction. It was great to relax with friends and the Rector, Vice-Rector and Director of Development. My favorite part of the evening came when we tried to convince the Rector to bid on a Puppy. He has a cat and is not really a dog person. Despite our declarations that we would walk the dog every day he did not budge. The rector has a great sense of humor and it was in full force during our exchanges about the Puppy Auction. We made sure to buy a stuffed dog and leave it in front of his door the next morning with a little note and a bill for the auction.