The smoky scent of a wood fire drifts up and through the open-air walkways of the Kartause, mingling with puffs of mint, eucalyptus, and clove billowing up from a vendor’s essential oil diffuser. Both warm smells are sliced by the cold.
Standing in the middle of the hallway of Franciscan University’s academic building, Egan Hall, I found myself with eyes closed, hands folded, and praying with a complete stranger. Two of my household sisters were next to me, but I still couldn’t get past the fact that it was normal to pray in public with someone I didn’t know.
Here at Franciscan University, we have a unique system called “Households.” Commonly explained as a “Catholic fraternity,” these small groups of men or women are united by more than just a banner, color, or t-shirt. Households are families.
Sometimes it seems that the March for Life is the Catholic/Pro-Life thing to do mid-January. We make our signs, try to sleep on a bus, stand for a few hours in the cold, catch up with old friends, shuffle along Constitution Avenue, say a rosary, pack up our things, and leave.
Most students returning from Austria will tell you similar things: “It was a great semester.” “It feels so weird being back.” “I’m still processing.” It was no different for me. As soon as I was home and waking up in my bed, the whole experience felt like a dream. Had I even left?
Even though I grew up in Steubenville and visited Franciscan frequently, I don’t have any vivid memories of Father Michael Scanlan. But he was always there, usually as one of the many priests at the altar during mass at Christ the King or in the Field House for Household Life.
I do not recommend wine tasting when you have a cold. However, like in matters, I did not heed my own advice, and went to a wine tasting in Assisi with a cold.
There were about 30 of us packed into a little basement, wine bottles stacked in rows on the wall, and the door propped open to let in air. On the table, meats and cheeses were spilling off of wooden platters, a basket of bread and a cup of small forks in between. Each person was given two wine glasses.
The roads only go so far into Venice (meaning not at all), so we had to take a boat into the city. It was fascinating to drift along the wide canal with churches and buildings right on the water’s edge on either side.
I had signed up to go on the school trip to Padua and Venice, partly because I always wanted to see Venice, but also because I still don’t want the responsibility of planning my own trip.
One of the most chilling part of my visit to Auschwitz was how peaceful it was.