June 18, 2024
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This week represented the beginning of our 2nd half of the Rome Experience. It is perhaps natural at the halfway point to reflect on all that we’ve encountered and how we want to approach our remaining time abroad. In the course of this reflection, it occurred to me that in the course of a few weeks, the Rome Experience will be my alma mater. I will join the ranks of others who were blessed to go through this program and come out of it forever changed.

But the experience as a whole is not the only alma mater I reflected on this week. Indeed, Rome as a city has become to me an Alma Mater. Despite all the blessings I received on my weekend trip to Venice, I found myself yearning for Rome on my train ride home. The yearning was not merely a result of the Italian train strike (which could be a completely separate blog post!), but more so from a desire to return to the nourishing we have received in the three weeks prior. The nourishing of a return to Mass with my brothers. A return to the nourishing horarium of mental prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. A yearning for the comfort of walking the streets of the Eternal City which I now can navigate comfortably by memory. I have no doubt from communicating with other alumni of the program that this nourishing will be the catalyst for further spiritual growth in my continuing formation as a seminarian and God willing as a priest. I have no doubt that this nourishment is the “milk” that our Lord chose to give me at this time, so that if I continue to love and pursue a life centered on him, he may give me “solid food” (1 Corinthians 3:2).

Charlie Wiedenmann
Archdiocese of Cincinnati