For Holy Week 2017, the students and the Rector travelled to Rome to join with the community of the Pontifical Scots College to celebrate the great feasts of the Triduum and – for the students – to enter into some days of silent retreat beforehand. This in itself was a great opportunity for making and renewing friendships with the community there – to which two of our students are headed after their propaedeutic course ends this summer and of which two of last year’s Salamanca group are now part – and for exploring something of the Eternal City itself.
The retreat took place outside Rome itself, near the village of Rocca di Papa in the Alban Hills, above Lake Albano, where our students were led in reflection by Fr Mark Cassidy, the current but outgoing Spiritual Director of the College in Rome alongside Mgr Tom Millar, the newly appointed Spiritual Director, who begins his appointment in the College after the summer of 2017, together with our own students.
A major highlight – and privilege – of the time in Rome, however, came with the celebration of the Easter Vigil. The Pontifical Scots College Community had been approached about assisting as altar servers for the Papal liturgy, and they lost no time in ensuring our three men were included in their number. And so, Frank, James and Raphael – after only a few months in seminary formation – found themselves serving for Pope Francis at the most significant liturgy of the Catholic year, in the evening of 15th April 2017, a date and a night never to be forgotten. Below is a little gallery showing parts of the ceremony where the Scots seminarians and their priests are in evidence (as indeed they were throughout the liturgy). Vested in the traditional purple soutanes of the Scots College, they stood out most distinctive and acted most distinguished. Both College rectors were, it must be said, incredibly proud of their men! They did themselves, their Colleges, their families and indeed their country immense credit.
All the blessings of Easter and the Risen Jesus to all who read and recall this amazing night!