Friday, October 9, 2015

Third and Fourth Day in Rome

Yesterday we started the day by going to the monastery where the rest of the group is staying -- San Gregorio. It is a beautiful monastery, but I hadn't realized the rich history that existed there. It was from that monastery that Gregory the Great, sitting in his chair (which I had my hand on) sent Augustine to Canterbury. It was an answer to 35 years of prayer Bertha, the Christian Queen, who was married to Aethelberht.

It was powerful to be in that place, where Augustine received his charge to go to England. The connection to our Church is so strong.

We walked through the rooms looking at the various paintings, frescoes and placques. It was moving to think of Gregory and Augustine walking on this site (albeit some of the buildings were probably changed). When the 1,100 anniversary was celebrated, both The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope were there for the event -- it is truly a joint Anglican/Roman Catholic holy site.

At noon when the altar area was closed to outside visitors, we were given permission to celebrate the Eucharist together. The Senior female Suffragan in the group, Gayle Harris, was given the honor of celebrating. It was a joyous event for us.

We had went our separate ways for lunch, knowing we had to meet at All Saints Anglican Church at 3:00. As the Shin's and the Bruce's decided to head out together, we were going to go over and have lunch near the church where we were meeting. On the way, Allen spotted a church and asked the
driver what church it was. "Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore". Allen called for the driver to stop, and we all got out and thanked the driver. Although we weren't near the church we were to go to, Allen really wanted to see this church. I figured out quickly why -- it is full of history, including the resting place of Pope Clement IX.

We then grabbed a quick lunch and went on to All Saints Anglican Church. We met Dana, a fairly new priest who is originally from Texas, and the Venerable Jonathan Boardman, the Chaplain and Archdeacon of Italy and Malta. You can see both of them in the picture in the nave of the church. They gave us a talk on the history of the congregation and its relationship with the Anglican Center and the Episcopal Church -- the relationship is great! We then went to the undercroft and talked -- answering and asking questions. 

A few of us then took cabs to go to St. Clement's -- a dream come true for me. We paid to go into the excavation below. The 4th century church was built on top of a 1st century pagan temple. You can see the frescos from the 4th century church, which the current basilica is built over. In fact the current basilica structure cut off the head of St. Clement in a 4th century fresco -- and it cut off the tops of a few frescos as well. We were not allowed to take pictures in the space, but it was mind blowing how one was built on top of the other. There was also a spring that ran fresh water through the 1st century structure. 

We grabbed a quick dinner and went back to our rooms -- tired from the long day!

On Friday morning we woke up early to be at the Joel Nafuma Refugee center by 8:30. We were greeted when we arrived by Charles who is a member of the Young Adult Service Corps. We were taken upstairs and given a briefing on the current state of the refugee situation and the reality facing refugees in Italy. It is not an easy situation in the least!

Here are a few slides you can read that were shared with us:
The Dublin Regulation means that where you land in Europe is the country that will work with you through the asylum process.

Some of the refugees we met were here over 1 year because the process is very slow.

These are the services the center offers.

We then spent about 3 hours talking to the refugees downstairs. It was a good group of men from Mali, NIger, Pakistan and Afghanistan (at least the ones I spoke with). We were not allowed to take pictures, or else you'd see the wonderful art pieces the men make. People were playing foosball, checkers and chess. They were waiting until their number was called to get basic supplies (including clean, new clothes -- this is rationed out strickly per month). There was a group of volunteers from the local college -- John Cabot University -- who come every Friday to volunteer. Some were teaching English. Some were talking with the refugees. Some were playing serious games of foosball with the refugees!

This is a serious situtation not only for Europe but for the world! In our Diocese I have been told that IRIS is about to process its first Syrian refugee family. It is part of the ministry of the diocese. You can check it out here -- You can read more about the Joel Nafuma Center at

We spent a little time processing the morning together with the Center workers. This was a powerful discussion. For me, I felt that the meeting with the Pope on Wednesday was a back drop to the deep needs of the refugee community -- meaning that the people the Pope speaks about were exactly the people we met this morning. Part of the reason I admire this Pope is because he has such a heart for the poor and those who have no voice -- indeed this is the group that this Pope talks about us all serving and helping. I was proud of St. Paul's Within the Walls -- an Episcopal Church in Rome -- for doing this work. It is indeed a holy work.

We had lunch together for a final time as Pierre our leader (and the Suffragan in charge of the Convocation of Churches in Europe) has to leave tomorrow. We will miss him! 

The rest of the day (what little was left) was spent running some errands. 

Here are some pictures from the last two days. 

No comments:

Post a Comment