This week all of the Bishops in the United States are in Baltimore for the Annual meeting of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. This means times are busy at the Seminary as many of the guys in the house are called down to serve Masses, etc... We are also hitting that time of the semester where everything is due at the same exact time, crunch time as they say.
One silver lining to the Bishops conference is that most of the guys get a chance to go out to eat with their bishop. This of course means a meal out, a free meal out, and a good restaurant for a change!
On Monday night the Manchester Seminarians studying in Baltimore were treated to a wonderful night out with our new bishop, Bishop Peter Libasci, as well as our auxiliary, Bishop Christian. Together all seven of us went to Little Italy for an evening of great food and most importantly great fellowship.
We met the bishops at the hotel where the conference meets and made our way to Little Italy for a gourmet feast. Before we arrived at the hotel all of us seminarians were a bit nervous, after all it was our first meeting with the new bishop, someone who will have a profound impact on our lives and future ministry. On the car ride down we had many laughs as we tried to release all of our nervous energy by discussing what would be the worst possible first impressions one could accidently give.
When we arrived at the hotel Bishops Libasci and Christian were waiting for us in the lobby. Once we met Bishop Libasci we were instantly comfortable and made to feel welcome. Luckily we did not give any of those worst possible first impressions we had discussed as well.
After a few minutes talking we made our way to the Restaurant and our first time together. As luck would have it I had been asked to make one small adjustment to the restaurant reservation earlier in the day, so I was able to insist upon us sitting at a round table instead of the usual rectangular one. Looking back this was a great move as we all were part of the conversation fully, which was important and a true gift to us all.
Over the course of the evening the Bishop went to great lengths to get to know each of us, to hear our stories, and our hopes. It was quite obvious he wanted to know us as people and that gave me a wonderful sense of peace. As social outings go the bishop certainly could have filled the time with small talk of little importance, but he didn't, instead he had us share, he shared and together we experienced the fellowship, hope and joy our Church needs. Bishop Libasci inquired about our studies, asked about families, shared his passion for the important place teaching the faith plays, and demonstrated very clearly he was a man of great prayer. After the evening concluded we went our separate ways, the Bishops back to the conference and all of us seminarians back to the seminary where our brother seminarians eagerly awaited news of our evening. It was such a feeling of peace and joy to be able to answer the many questions that awaited us on our return with a smile and a sense of great hope.
Bishop Libasci and Bishop Christian, thank you for a wonderful evening of fellowship, fraternity and hope. Bishop Libasci I look with great joy to your Installation Mass on December 8th, in the meantime time to hit the books again!