Having four days off in a row is such a special time, more so, of course, when it occurs because of an important holiday such as Thanksgiving.

This past Thursday I had so many great joys. The day started with Mass at St. Patrick’s and, at the end of Mass, the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy to the Holy See, Patrick Connell, read President Biden’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. Seeing so many friends on a Thursday, a work day here, of course, was wonderful!

After Mass I went to Homebaked for brunch and picked up an entire Thanksgiving dinner that I had ordered days earlier from Jesse. Most of this week he spent baking all sorts of pies and blueberry muffins, filling orders for family turkey dinners and planning a lot of single Thanksgiving dinners such as the one I ordered.

If you don’t prepare a turkey dinner at home, you don’t have leftovers and, for me at least, leftovers are implicit in Thanksgiving! So I had my second turkey dinner on Friday (although I always eat fish on Fridays but made an exception). It was pouring rain and turning cold and so staying home with turkey and stuffing was the logical choice.

At 5pm I went to NAC, the North American College, for the first time in almost 21 months!! The seminarians, at the start of the Covid outbreak last year had gone back home to the U.S. or Australia, and then, throughout 2020 and up to this Thanksgiving Day, all events that involved guests – Thanksgiving Day, the December 8 celebration of the Immaculate Conception and the annual springtime Rector’s Dinner – were cancelled. As were the weekly Wednesday lunches to which guests are invited.

Mass in NAC’s beautiful chapel started the Thanksgiving celebrations. The rector, Fr. Peter Harman, in fact, in brief remarks at this turkey dinner, stressed the excitement everyone felt at finally being able to invite guests to the College! And it was indeed a special evening, a superb dinner and the magnificent pumpkin pies, paraded in by the fifth year students. I was seated at the California table. On Thanksgiving Day, tables are arranged by states with seminarians at NAC. Sometimes two states may share a table.

We’ve had rain here every day since Thanksgiving and the greyness is starting to weigh on people. The temps have gone down quite a bit and all of a sudden it is winter coat weather.   The positive side of rain and this kind of weather, however, is that it is conducive to taking care of a lot of projects around the house (and a few errands outside) and even to finding some extra time for something like reading! Sitting down for an hour or two and not feeling guilty because of other things on your daily agenda, including work!

Thanksgiving Day, as I was waiting at the bus stop outside our apartment building, I saw something fascinating on what is always advertisement space. Seems there is a campaign to provide people with something to read as they wait for or travel on a bus. I clicked on the QR code and downloaded a short story by one of the Grimm brothers! As you can see, it is supposed to be a 20-minute read. What a great idea! Or should I say, what a novel idea!

As I went out for dinner Saturday night, I read a new sign posted inside our building that said our doorman Carlo had Covid! Our building is being renovated, as you know, and all of the perhaps two dozen workers – with whom Carlo interacts daily – had to have Covid tests as did Vittorio at the nearby tabacchi store where Carlo and Francesco, another doorman, and several others gather daily.

Sunday, of course, was the start of Advent, a season I’ve always loved, a season of anxiety but also joy as we await the birth of our Savior, Jesus. I usually spend Sunday afternoons preparing a brief segment for each Monday’s edition of “At Home with Jim and Joy.” I either focus on their topic of the week or bring them breaking news from the Vatican. Tune in on a Monday and drop me a line!

The big news this week will be Pope Francis’ trip to Cyprus and Greece that starts Thursday, December 2 with his flight to Nicosia. I’d love to be reporting on that as I have terrific memories of my time in June 2010 to cover Pope Benedict’s trip to Cyprus, and in fact, just re-read several of my blogs on that apostolic journey. I also reported several times a day for EWTN’s Open Line radio program and did TV coverage as well.

Just a few post -Thanksgiving thoughts….




Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, and Friday are day off for EWTN so this column may be quiet. I might post something on Facebook if an event warrants it so stayed tuned for that. In any case, check in!

I will be celebrating and giving thanks at 10:30 Mass at St. Patrick’s Church and then partake in a grand turkey lunch (with a few Italian elements thrown in!) at the North American College. U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich will read the annual Presidential Proclamation on both occasions. My friendship with the priests, seminarians, faculty and staff of the Pontifical North American College is another of my great blessings.


Dear Lord, how have you blessed me? Let me count the ways…..

My wonderful family, my beautiful faith, my ocean of friends, the friends throughout your great universe whom You have brought into my life.

Does a day pass that You do not bring some unique, new person into my life? The newest member of my wonderful, large family? A friend from another country? Another wonderful seminarian or priest added to the many who have made my life and my faith so fulfilling? The list is so very long!

Does a day pass that I am not enriched and blessed by some amazing event that You placed in my path as a learning moment, a time of prayer, a period of silent Thanksgiving?

You blessed me at my baptism when You brought me into your beautiful Catholic Church and a faith to which I have always tried to be faithful.

You have blessed me by enriching that faith over the years, allowing me to work for You every day, to bring your Word and your teachings and your Truth to so many.

My words, by comparison, are very insignificant but truly heartfelt. I am filled with both thanksgiving and joy as I write these words, as my mind’s eye overflows with images of each family member, of friends here in Rome and around the globe, of the magnificent events that daily fill my life.

I sign most emails and letters with “God bless,” and then on another line “Joan” – but I read it silently as “God bless Joan.”

And You have blessed me! Heartfelt THANKS!

For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above,
Pleasures pure and undefiled,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.
(Part of a Christian hymn composed by Folliott S. Pierpoint (1835-1917)