Europe was both fun and exhausting. There was so much that we had to do, places to go, work to be done that I was very glad when it was time to return home. On the way to Dublin on the 28th of February, we had a layover in Chicago–my family drove down, and we got to visit for a couple of hours. The first week, we enjoyed the slower life or rural Ireland. It was really pretty–a lot of green, a lot of rain, and quiet. The stars were visible (when it was not raining!) and there were good times with others on the trip. We went to daily Mass at a parish that was a five minute walk away, visited a few surrounding towns, talked to locals for a report we have to write (including two nuns at the Convent of Mercy!), visited a castle, went to the beach (it was in the 30’s and windy, so no swimming!), enjoyed some local food, and did LOTS of walking. Saturday morning we got up early, finished packing, and caught the bus at 7am to start our trip back to Dublin, so that we could fly to Rome.
We got into Rome late on Saturday night (March 7th), and found our way to the bus station. From there, we made it to the convent we were staying in a roundabout way. Even with the help of a nice local girl who spoke a bit of English, we got off the bus at a stop too late, and had to wander up and down the street trying to find where we were going. A few queries later, we finally found it–it was about 10:50pm, and the convent is locked every night at 11pm. I was a little paranoid that we were not going to get there in time…spending a night in a completely unfamiliar country, with a different language, in a large city, in a not very safe environment made me really nervous. It did not help that I was on the worst day of a head cold, and felt terrible physically. God provided, though, and we made it there, got a room, and were able to get a significant amount of sleep.
On Sunday we went to St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus, and then had a bit of free time. With his permission, we followed around the gentleman who put most of the details of the trip together for the day to get our bearings on the transportation system and such in Rome. We enjoyed a full Italian meal (one of two the whole week…other than that we ate cheap pizza and home made pb&j sandwiches) and then made our way over to the Roman Forums (the old city). We were pleasantly surprised that women got in free that day–apparently it was national women’s day in Italy! It was enjoyable and very interesting to see the old buildings. We also went into the prison where Sts. Peter & Paul were held before their martyrdom. After all that, we made our way back to St. Peter’s for Holy Mass at 5:30pm. Later that evening, the remaining part of the group joined us from Ireland, and we had our official meeting which kicked off the week.
Forgive the following names…they are a mixture of English and Italian. The ones I remembered the English names of, I wrote…but my schedule had them in Italian so that we could find them if we got lost while there. 🙂 Throughout the week we visited the four major bascilicas: St. Peter’s (multiple times), St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul Outside the Walls. We also visited many other churches: St. Peter in Montorio (The Tempietto), St. Cecilia and St. Maria in Trastevere, St. Sabina, Holy Cross in Jerusalem, Sistine Chapel, St. Maria degli Angeli, St. Maria della Vittoria, St. Susanna, St. Peter in Chains, St. Praessede, St. Clement, Il Gesu, St. Ignatius, St. Maria Sopra Minerva, the Pantheon, La Maddalena, St. Louis of France, St. Ivo alla Sapienza, Piazza Navona, St. Augustine, and St. Maria Del Popolo. Other sites included Piazzale Guiseppe Garibaldi, the Holy Stairs, the Catacombs of St. Sebastian, and the Vatican Museums.
Finally, we got up early again on Saturday to start our journey back. Our flight from Rome to New York was 9.5 hours, and then we had a 5.5 hour flight to Los Angeles, California. We were exhausted and very glad to get back. Now we are finishing papers and such, while enjoying spring break. On the 30th, we will start into a new quarter…I am getting back into the swing of things.
If you made it through the rest of the post, I congratulate you! Now I will explain the “goodbye” part of the title. I have enjoyed blogging for the past few years. I hope that through it I have been able to impact others lives in a positive way. However, since I have come to school I do not feel like I have been doing it justice. I wish I could post on here more, and sometimes it becomes a point of stress because I feel like I am obligated to keep it up, and I don’t even know if there are many people who read it. After thinking and praying about it for awhile I think it is time to say goodbye, ate least for now. If I get inspired to write something, you may see a post or two–but until I graduate in September 2010, so much of my time will be consumed by school that I doubt there will be much. I want to use the time I have spent on here to build up my prayer life, foster personal relationships, and pursue what I discern is God’s Will for me. Please keep me in your prayers, and feel free to browse through previous entries. I hope there is something edifying that you can receive from them! May God bless and Mary keep you all!