By Raymond Syms, Editor
Are you ready to go home?
Represent the Antilles Episcopal Conference at the tenth World Meeting of Families – done.
Visit some of the popular tourist attractions in five days – done.
Visit Assisi to see the birthplace of St Francis – done.
And I don’t want to see another slice of pizza for some time.
Yes, it’s time to head home. On Wednesday, June 29, we would leave for London Gatwick Airport.
After Sunday’s trip to Assisi, I made the Monday and Tuesday workdays: transcribe notes, clear emails, read T&T dailies online, listen to i95.5FM 7 a.m. news (at 1 p.m. Rome time), communicate via WhatsApp with Associate Editor Simone for the coming issue.
But before that, one final outing. Archbishop Jason, Bishop Robert, Fr Matthew, Tricia, and I were invited to visit the Generalate of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother (SSM) on Monday evening by Grenada-born Sr Julie Marie Peters SSM.
The SSM is a Franciscan congregation founded in Rome in 1883. They currently serve in Italy, Austria, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Germany, the United States, Grenada, St Lucia, Tanzania and Trinidad and Tobago.
Sr Julie has been at the Generalate for a couple years serving as General Assistant to US-born Sr Catherine Marie Hanegan SSM, General Superior.
We left the guest house hoping to get a five-seater taxi. No luck as there were too many people seeking transport. Eventually the bishops got a taxi while Fr Matthew, Tricia and I did the 15–20-minute walk, including a ‘shortcut’ up 100 steps.
We arrived during the sisters’ Evening Prayer. After the prayers, Sr Julie took us on a short tour of the Generalate before we headed to the dining room.
Contemplating another pizza slice while chatting with Sr Catherine Marie, I heard a rumble and felt a three second shudder. I looked around – no-one else seemed to react to the earthquake.
After dinner, Sr Julie took us out into her garden, where she grows quite a few vegetables and fruits. She pointed to a row of trees near the roadway that needed to be properly maintained or else officials of Metropolitana di Roma (Rome Metro) would pay a visit. Why?
The trees mark the location of the subway line which runs beneath the Generalate. As the tree roots grow, they need to be cut ever so often. She explained that while the congregation owns the land, the ground beneath belonged to Rome Metro. The ‘earthquake’ explained – a train passing.
We said our goodbyes and hopped a bus to a stop close to St Peter’s Square. It would be the final time I’d walk through the square.
Wednesday, June 29 is a national holiday in Italy, the Solemnity of St Peter and St Paul. It was the last day in Italy for Bishop Robert, Fr Matthew, Tricia, and I. Archbishop Jason left the Tuesday morning.
Tricia made a final visit to St Peter’s and had to turn down the opportunity to witness new metropolitan archbishops like Archbishop Gabriel Malzaire of Castries receive their pallium from the Pope.
The drive to Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport was uneventful except it was evident that the war in Ukraine was affecting gas prices. Our driver stopped to fill up but was unable to: he lamented that he paid 100 euros (TT$690) and the tank was still not full.
I’ll remember this visit to Rome for many reasons as I left not only with memories but with a slight cough. Yes, Covid is easy to catch. Ten days in isolation back in Trinidad and thankfully, Tricia and I test negative and recover.
So arrivederci (goodbye) Rome. God willing, I’ll have the opportunity to visit and walk its streets again and if possible, pay a visit to Florence.