The last few months have been very busy at the Pontifical Scots College. Looking back, I realise now that I forgot to post anything on here about my second encounter with the Holy Father. Suffice to say that the community of the Scots College was given the honour of serving at the Easter Vigil in the Vatican. Everyone was involved somehow; I was the Pope's microphone bearer. The experience was incredible. Having now attended the 'mother of all vigils' in the heart of the Church, St Peter's Basilica has been totally transformed for me, not least of all because I met Pope Francis inches from Michelangelo's Pietà.
It is strange to think that that was almost two months ago. Since then, I've been home for a break during Easter week; I have, sadly, been home a second time for the funeral of a dear family friend; and I've been involved in the preparation of a new issue of the Scots College Magazine. This issue (coming to a parish near you) will be the first in four years and is full of articles from the community, alumni, friends and professors.
Life in the College has been pretty hectic since we arrived back one week after Easter. Four men were instituted as lectors at a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Cushley; three men were admitted as candidates for Holy Orders at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Tighe from the Vatican; Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Holy See made a formal visit; the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States delivered a talk about his work.
And now, at the beginning of June, we have arrived once more at the end of a semester and the beginning of another exam session. This time, I will sit six exams and submit two papers. The courses I've been taking this semester include Canon Law, Prophetic and Apocalyptic Literature, and Sexual Ethics. I sat my first exam on 5th June and I will sit my last exam two weeks later, on 19th June.
After the exams, I won't waste any time getting home. I return to Scotland on 20th June, ten days ahead of the priestly ordinations of two of my friends from the College. Bernard Mournian will be ordained in Hamilton at 2pm and Jonathan Whitworth will be ordained in Greenock at 7pm. As you can imagine, the entire community at the College looks forward to priestly ordinations; they are, after all, the reason why we are in the Eternal City in the first place.
My summer is shaping up to be a good one. I will travel to Spain and Portugal for a pilgrimage-holiday in July, visiting Salamanca and Fatima. I have never been to Fatima and, given the special 100th anniversary year since Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children, I thought that this year was the year to visit.
In August, I will begin my pastoral placement. Normally, this would mean moving into a parish house somewhere in the Diocese of Paisley. However, this year, Bishop Keenan and the Vocations Director have arranged for me to travel to the USA, to the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. I can't wait to experience a completely different side of the Church.
I think that's all for now. Consider the blog duly updated and the seminarian duly distracted from the pressure of exams. Please remember to pray for me and for everyone at the College and in Rome who are sitting exams this month.