THE WOMEN'S ROOM
Here's something you should know about St. Patrick's Cathedral: There is no rest room. I came up against this unfortunate fact in 2000 when I was covering the funeral for Cardinal John O'Connor. Reporters had to be in place two hours before the start so we could go through security -- President Clinton was in attendance -- and the funeral was three hours long. Without getting too graphic, let me just say it wasn't my soul, or the cardinals, I was praying for that day.
Yesterday, arriving about 15 minutes early for the ordination of two Staten Islanders, I realized with horror that I was in the same predicament. I headed to Prime Burger on 51st Street, prepared to spend any amount of money just to visit their facilities. But when I saw a long line of people -- mostly women -- heading through the restaurant and down the stairs, I joined them and found myself, happily on line for the bathroom with no purchase necessary. Behind me were two women from the Sisters of Life. And do you know what those intrepid sisters did? They comandeered the men's room!! So many things I didn't know about nuns when I was a girl in grade school!!
Maybe I'm just getting cranky, but it seemed to me that the cathedral was full of babies and toddlers, and almost all of them were crying. It's hard enough to hear Cardinal Egan's baritone voice in the bouncy acoustics of the cathedral without the whining, shrieking and wailing in the background. Also it's not so comfortable standing in the "press box" for three hours, so I am forgiving myself the uncharitable thoughts I had about some of those noisy babies near me. Or maybe I should go to confession.
SPEAKING OF KNEES
Cardinal Egan had knee replacement surgery last September, and yesterday, when it came time for the brand new priests to give him a blessing, he explained to the audience that he was merely bowing, and not kneeling, because "the piece of metal" in his knee might not know how to bend. He said he would have his knees properly trained by next year's ordination. Which leads cardinal-watchers to wonder, was that an encrypted way to say he's staying on another year, despite having turned the mandatory retirement age of 75? Stay tuned.
THE BISHOP IN THE BLACK HAT
During some of the service, the bishops in attendance wear pointy white hats called mitres. Underneath they wear a sort of chartreuse shade of yarkmulke (although I'm sure they don't call it by that Yiddish word). But one bishop was wearing some unusual black headgear that had me wondering, until Cardinal Egan explained it all. The man in the mystery hat was the bishop of the Syrian Catholic Church in the U.S. and Canada. The cardinal said the bishop's name, but I couldn't hear it; there was a baby crying.
**Though still troubled by a shortage of priests, the Catholic Church saw the number of ordinations increase slightly this year, from 431 nationwide in 2006 to 475 in 2007, according to a study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. **
I’m surprised, nationwide, that there is only an increase of 44 priests. But adding any at all is good. Maybe next year it will be 60, and the next year, 100. (Optomistic thoughts!)
Congratulations to these men and to the communities they will be serving!
Our little diocese in VT (which has only 62 diocesean priests) will ordain 2 new priests on June 9th. I had the pleasure of getting to know one of these young men when he was in residence at my parish last summer. He is precisely the kind of man the Church needs for the priesthood.
Please pray for Dallas StPierre and John Schnobrich as the make this big step.
In addition, we have seven more men in the seminarian program. We feel very blessed to have them.
Though still troubled by a shortage of priests, the Catholic Church saw the number of ordinations increase slightly this year, from 431 nationwide in 2006 to 475 in 2007,**
An increase is an increase. We will take it.