CARDINAL D’ROZARIO AND MEMORIES OF A BANGLADESHI DINNER

Before I sign off for several days, I want to wish everyone reading this column, as well as all of you who listen to my radio program, Vatican Insider” and follow me on “Joan’s Rome and “At Home with Jim and Joy,” a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

I will be celebrating Thanksgiving by attending noon Mass tomorrow at the North American College and, after that, as usual, enjoying a magnificent turkey dinner Italian style, that is to say preceded by antipasto and even pasta! After a brief respite in the afternoon, I will be joining seven American friends, including Kelly Wahlquist (you know her as the founder of WINE, Women In the New Evangelization) for a late dinner at La Scaletta restaurant. Check my Facebook page for live posts, photos, etc.

CARDINAL D’ROZARIO AND MEMORIES OF A BANGLADESHI DINNER

And now, I’d like to tell you my favorite story of the 2016 consistory for new cardinals.

The afternoon of the consistory to name new cardinals, I attended the courtesy visits in the Paul VI Hall and went in search of an old friend, Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka, Bangaldesh. We had met a few years earlier in Rome and shared a great meal over conversation about the meeting he was in Rome to attend on the question of sexual abuse by clergy.

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We talked about many topics and I was curious to learn about his country as what I did know of Bangladesh could be written on the proverbial head of a pin.

To understand our reunion, here is my blog from the day we met:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The past 24 hours have been some of the more amazing of my already very amazing life. I wish I had been wearing some sort of a videocam because, as I look back on events, it is hard to believe what has transpired.

Several weeks ago I met a priest from Bangladesh, Fr. Francis D’Costa, who is assisting the pastor at my neighborhood Italian parish. I had gone to Saturday night Mass and confession and we spoke afterwards. Fr. Francis is studying in Rome for several years and resides at the St. Peter Apostle Pontifical Seminary on Via delle Fornaci, not far from my home (so I thought).

I learned this week that his bishop, Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka, Bangladesh would be in Rome for the sex abuse symposium at the Gregorian University, and I told Fr. Francis I’d like to meet and interview him. Fr. Francis said there was a post-symposium Mass at Most Holy Apostles Church for participants and suggested we meet afterwards, around 8:30 or so, in our neighborhood. Father and the archbishop took the 64 bus and I met them at the San Pietro train station, a four-block walk from my house, a little before 9. I assumed we only had a brief walk to nearby Via delle Fornaci, but was in for a surprise.

That’s when our trek began. And that’s when I learned how long a street Via delle Fornaci is! It was uphill all the way, not steep, but uphill nonetheless, for at least a kilometer. The street at this point is narrow, not well lit and, fortunately, not many cars were about at that hour. I think both Archbishop D’Rozario and I felt we’d never arrive, walking in what seemed to be no man’s land in the midst of frigid temperatures. We chattted away, getting to know each other and that helped keep our thoughts (somewhat) off of the cold and the distance.

The walk was worth it in the end because warmth and dinner awaited us. I was stunned to see the immense grounds of the seminary which hosts 179 priests from 40 countries in Asia and Africa, and is part of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

I interviewed the archbishop in one of the rooms while a priest from India, a friend of Father Francis’, prepared a very tasty Bangladeshi dinner for us as the seminary dinner hour was long over! He prepared dinner in his bedroom on a hotplate and we shared that dish on paper plates and toasted with local wine in plastic cups and sat where we could on two chairs and the edge of the bed.

(By way, you will hear that interview on “Vatican Insider.” It is a fascinating insight on the sex abuse crisis from an Asian perspective, and the archbishop gave me a copy of his talk on sexuality from an Asian perspective.)

I Ieft about 10:30 p.m. and walked back home, accompanied half way by the priest from India (whose name I failed to write down). The return walk home was about a mile, all told.

FAST FORWARD: Paul VI Hall, November 19, 2016:

As I stood in line and it was my turn to shake the cardinal’s hand, I could see a light of recognition. I said my name and reminded him of a dinner at the seminary where we shared a Bangladeshi meal, some laughs and great coversation. He hugged me and said several times, with a broad smile, how well he remembered that dinner!

Laughing, he said, “I have been waiting for you! Where have you been?”

You see, four years ago he invited me to Bangladesh, to get to know his country and his people. I guess he has been waiting for four years!

Cardinal D’Rozario was much in demand at the courtesy visits and I did not have time for a lengthy conversation as other people, especially the media, were waiting to greet him. He did tell me, however, that the work that Pope Francis had assigned to the cardinals in the morning was really the work of all Catholics in Bangladesh.

And now I want to go and see that work for myself! And enjoy another Bangadesh dinner!

Here is Cardinal D’Rozario with Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Rai (on the right) –

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And with Archbishop Paul Gallagher of the Secretariat of State –

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