Speaking today to his priests at the annual Jubilee Day, the Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, announced a series of new priestly assignments to take effect July 1, 2013, most of which will be announced in the parishes this weekend.
Since the 11th of January 2010, I have served as Priest Secretary and Master of Ceremonies to the Bishop and as Associate Director of the Office for Vocations, both positions which I have much enjoyed.
However, as His Excellency has seen fit to send me to obtain a Licentiate in Canon Law (J.C.L.) at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, I will soon conclude my present assignments. While in Rome for the next three years, I will reside at the Casa Santa Maria, the house for American priests studying in the Eternal City.
Prior to the beginning of this course of studies in October, I will study the Italian language for six weeks at the Academia Lingua Italiana in Assisi, the home of Saints Francis and Clare, beginning July 22nd, and will reside for the length of these studies at the Casa Papa Giovanni.
I am particularly grateful to Bishop Paprocki for his many kindnesses to me these past several years, most especially for this kindness which surpasses them all:
and for the confidence he has placed in me.
Bishop Paprocki first mentioned this coming assignment to me, if memory serves, sometime in November and shortly thereafter several friends were asking me to witness their weddings, assist at retreats, or baptize their children. Declining their invitations was not easy, both because I very much wanted to accept them and because I could not tell them why I could not join them for these happy occasions. I am glad now to be able to make the assignment public.
As you can well imagine, several tasks now lie before me, not the least of which is packing my earthly possessions and deciding which I will bring with me and which I will leave behind, and where they will stay in my absence, not to mention determining a good “home base” for return visits home. The vast majority of my possessions consists of books, which, thanks be to God, are not terribly difficult to store. My coming move will provide a much looked for opportunity to begin discarding things to which I have paid little attention over the years and really only serve to take up space.
It is a curious way how the Lord brings people into your life for a time and then reconnects you years later.
During my time in Effingham, I was happy to make the acquaintance of two families in Italy through students in a foreign exchange program at the high school; one of the families lives in Rome (with whom I was able to visit a year ago February) and the other in the north of Italy.
I also recently learned that one of my classmates at Mundelein Seminary will also be going to Rome this Fall for advanced studies. When we spent a month in Rome on pilgrimage, he and I often travelled about the city together with a few others; it will be good to so with him again.
Bishop Paprocki is also sending one of our seminarians, Michael Friedel, to the Pontifical North American College, the American seminary in Rome.
Initially I thought I would be heading to Rome on my own for three years, which felt a bit daunting, but the Lord seems to have taken care of this concern for me.
As I look ahead to the coming weeks, I ask your prayers for me. The next three years will be a great and unexpected adventure, one which I welcome.
It has not been easy to keep this news quiet these past several months, but in some way I will still have to keep it quiet. Since Saturday afternoon my voice has taken a bit of a vacation – to where I do not know. Today I am able to make a few vocal noises but no words. I expect to be able to speak again on Thursday, or Friday at the latest. So if you happen to call and I do not answer, now you know why.