Though I’ll be back with you by the time you are reading this, I am writing this column during our last night in Venice. We leave in the morning for Milan, the largest diocese in Italy, and a place I am especially look- ing forward to visiting as I’ve never been there before & it is the place where St. Augustine, a great theologian who has had a tremendous influence in our Catholic faith, was baptized by another great theologian, St. Ambrose. Augustine led quite a sensual life before his conversion, and regretted only that he waited too long before coming to know and love the Lord (“Too late have I come to love thee, O Lord”). The other connection with Milan is that Pope Paul VI, who was canonized last Sunday (October 14th), was the Archbishop of Milan. Pope St. Paul VI was pope from 1963 until his death (on my birthday, August 6th) in 1978. He is known for implementing the reforms of the Second Vatican Council which ended in 1965. Under him, Mass began to be celebrated in the vernacular (which of course is English for us) instead of Latin, and there were hundreds of other changes in the Church which has allowed it to find its place in the modern world. Pope Paul’s full name? Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini (you have to love the Italians for their long & poetic names). It was Pope St. John XXIII who was the Archbishop here in Venice before becoming Pope. I have seen and prayed last week at the tombs of St. Paul VI, St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II, all of whom were popes during my lifetime. I just realized how much information I have just given you here about Venice, Milan, 3 Popes & 5 Saints, but bear with me as I mention one more name. Along with Pope Paul VI, Pope Francis also canonized an Archbishop from El Salvador (where the Diocese of Cleveland has had a mission of priests & nuns for many years). Archbishop Oscar Romano spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture. In 1980, he himself was assassinated (shot) while celebrating Mass. Though we have heard so much recently of the sins of church leaders, it is important to remember that there have been so many more who have reached sainthood by their love of God and neighbor. I am so grateful to have been reminded of this while walking the ground where many of them walked and lived and served the Church. I’ll share more with you in the coming weeks.
While it’s always hard to come to the end of a vaca- tion, this time I have our Parish Festival to look forward to. What a great opportunity for us to enjoy one another’s company. As we say Arrivederci to Italy, we say to you that it’s good to be home.