Leaving Westfield was difficult because I had been so happy there, especially the last three years. There were so many wonderful persons in the parish, and I was leaving with a heart filled with gratitude. Among the most special gifts had been my friendships with Gene McCoy and Jack Murphy. Gene took me under his wing and Jack became my best friend. Two different personalities but both were selfless and committed to the full concept of service.
Part of the Rome assignment was joyful in the knowledge that as an eleven year old boy my father had come from Italy to a strange land where he would thrive and raise a family. Now his son was returning to Italy under completely different circumstances. I had been in Rome a few times prior and had this sense that I had been there in a former life. The graduate house for the American college was only a block from the Trevi fountain and in a most central historic point of the city.The house was filled with priests from all over the states, and it was not long before I had friends and felt adjusted to life in Rome.
One major challenge faced me almost immediately. The program that I was to attend for some reasons was cancelled and here I was in Rome without a course of studies.I did not fancy pursuing a degree solely in Theology and fortunately had received some scholarship money to study with Viktor Frankl in 1971. My initial plan was to take courses at the Angelicum ,the Dominican graduate school ,and then transfer to the University of Vienna in February.
Daily life before classes began was phenomenal because we were footloose and fancy free.The day began with a great breakfast provided by the Swiss nuns at the college and then the walk to San Eustacchio for the best cappuccino in the city.Those who had been in the city prior to our arrival provided key information about every aspect of Roman life.I soon learned that the schedules and hours of operation mean little in Italy. One day I went to the post office and approached the window to mail a letter to the states. The post office was to be opened for the next twenty minutes. The clerk pulled down the shudder as I approached. I thought perhaps he had lost track of the time. Politely knocking on the window I said in Italian” there are twenty minutes before closing.” The shudder opened and the clerk gave me the bird and slammed it shut again. Welcome to Rome!!!!!!!