Father Jeremy Driscoll has submitted his final diary entries from his participation in The Synod of the New Evangelization. Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V can also be found on the MAS journalism blog.
We continue with Father Jeremy's entry for October 26, 2012:
There is a lovely courtesy in the practice of the Synod that each day in he Hall at the opening session the birthday of people is announced, not just the Synod Fathers but us experts as well. I thought mine (October 24) would probably not be announced since there was no plenary session scheduled for that day, only work in small groups, but in fact they announced it the day before.
People clapped, and I had the pleasure of seeing the Holy Father also clapping and smiling, though I doubt he could spot me in the Synod Hall. In any case, both that day and the day of my birthday I had the good wishes of many, many bishops, and on my birthday itself Cardinal Gracias began our small group session with congratulations and the whole group sang Happy Birthday to me.
We had a full day of work in the small group: three and a half hours in the morning and two and a half in the afternoon. We were formulating amendments to the texts of propositions already formulated by ourselves and the other eleven language groups. I was able to argue for a clear expression on the liturgy and the liturgical year and also a mention of the important witness of monasteries in the New Evangelization. Again, the discussion and range of concerns was both interesting and edifying.
For birthday fun I actually had two parties. I don't know I've ever had that before. My friends and neighbors on the Aventin offered a pranzo with a few people I could invite. I decided to invite three African bishops with whom I was newly friends: Bishop Kussala from South Sudan, Bishop Libena from Tanzania, and Bishop Badejo from Nigeria. I also invited from Sant' Anselmo my dear friend P. Olivier Marie Saar from Senegal. I was calling it my pan-African party. At the last minute Bishop Badejo was called away to an emergency. I was sorry not to have his lively company, but we had a very joyful meal anyway.
In the evening Cardinal Levada had me to dinner in a splendid fish restaurant, together with Gabriel Ferruci, Monsignor Steve Lopes, and Father Steve, one of the priests from the Diocese of Orange. We had excellent food and company and cake with a highway flare on it and the whole restaurant staff was singing with the lights turned out in the room we were in. Gabriel ordered a fancy champagne at the end.
The next day we had no Synod meetings. The secretaries of each small group had to meet that day to collate all the suggested amendments. The rest of us had the day off.
Today and tomorrow are the last two days of the Synod. This morning we heard the second draft of the Nuntius (the Synod Message), and it was certainly improved. Different bishops read parts aloud in different languages, deepening once again the deep world-wide experience that we are all having of the Church.
After that and the lively and talkative coffee break, we heard from mostly lay people from around the world, sharing their experiences of work already underway and well developed in the New Evangelization. On Wednesday the Holy Father named six new cardinals, four of whom are present at the Synod. During the break I was able to congratulate two of them, one from Nigeria and the other from India, both very nice.
I came for lunch to the North American College and ran into Archbishop Wilton Gregory from Atlanta. He is not here for the Synod but for other meetings, but we had a happy reunion and sat together at table with Bishop Kicanas from Tucson and two Portland seminarians, Tim and Greg. We had a great lunch together.
I am writing this entry in Archbishop Kurtz's (Louisville) sitting room at the NAC, which he has been generously sharing with me. We begin our meetings this afternoon an hour later. I can tell from the sky that one of those big Roman rainstorms is brewing. It will probably break loose about the time we set out to walk back to the Vatican. Well, if the end is wet, that is fair. For the three weeks of the Synod the weather has been magic October: sunny and not hot. That is Rome at its best.