Bishop Vann is currently in Italy to support San Diego’s Bishop McElroy, who will be installed as a Cardinal on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, religious and priests all:
I wanted to try to send a few words home to all, and let you know that I was thinking and praying for you all in this first week here.
I have been blessed to spend a week here near Terracina and San Felice Circeo. I am very grateful for the ministry of Fr. Angelos and staff at the Pastoral Center who are working and ministering very diligently. Fr. Angelos, Fr. Bao and I have been staying in regular communication.
The weather has been generally very good, with the exception of some strong thunderstorms at night (“tempeste”) here!
I have been especially grateful to be with so many parishioners and friends whom I have known here for so many years. The only challenges are the occasional mixing of the Italian and Spanish languages, and the ongoing challenges of trying to retrieve one of my luggage pieces that got left behind, which is still ongoing!
I was also able to be present at the funeral of an older woman who I knew years ago.
Over the weekend a group of us went to Umbria where we visited (made pilgrimage to) Spoleto, Umbria (home of Saint Rita, which I reached only after climbing many steps and using many escalators). Rita is my godmother’s name, and she is known as a patron saint of impossible causes. Her presence and impact are still so clearly evident here from the great number of pilgrims as well as in Assisi where I celebrated Mass at the Church of Saint Mary of the Angels (in the valley below). I also visited Rivotorto (again in the valley below) which is the site of the first mission of the friars. I will send some pictures. Umbria is a truly beautiful place with its hills and valleys. With many saints being from here, it has a truly mystical sense about it. If any of you have heard about Carlo Carretto, his home is in Spello, the last train stop before Assisi.
Part of the beauty of Spoleto for me is not only have I been here during my graduate study days, but it is the home of composer and author Gian Carlo Menotti. The famous “festival of the two worlds,” joining South Carolina and Spoleto, has its origin here, along with the wonderful opera of Menotti I saw as a child with my grandparents (in a Hallmark special at Christmastime, titled “Amahl and the Night Visitors”). This is a charming but profound opera of the journey of the Magi to Bethlehem, and the miracles of their journey.
My friends found a YouTube black-and-white copy of this, which I watched with them.
I will be heading to Rome later this week to the North American College. Fr. Michael arrives then, and I will be sending some more pictures and reflections.
God bless you all in these last days of August. There are some powerful days in the Liturgical calendar in these days (e.g., St. Bernard of Clairvaux, author of the Memorare, a prayer many of us learned when young).
Thank you for your dedicated ministry and prayers and support.
Gratefully yours in the Lord.