Sunday, July 2, 2017

Salesian Pilgrims Hit the Road

Salesian Pilgrims Hit the Road

The province having decreed the withdrawal of the SDBs from Champaign, Fr. Bill Bucciferro departed on June 1 for vacation and his new assignment in East Boston.  Fr. Dave Sajdak planned to leave on the 17th for his vacation and new assignment in Toronto.

I left Holy Cross Parish--a place and a people I came to love very much during my too-brief assignment as their parochial vicar--on Monday, June 12, at 9:50 a.m. after celebrating a final Mass (of our Polish Salesian martyrs, as it happened) there and having extended good-byes with our dear morning congregation and staff.  Hard on all of us.  If our entire Christian lives are a mystical journey, long or short, toward the Promised Land of eternal life, those lives are also marked by numerous physical journeys, picking up and moving on where God directs us, like our ancestor Abraham and the Hebrews in the desert--or like Don Bosco in the years of the "wandering Oratory."

I did my best to make sure I didn’t leave anything behind accidentally; and if all I did leave was an almost empty box of Crystal Light, I did OK.

Three of the parishioners very kindly helped me load the 16' truck on Saturday, which took us a bit more than 2 hours (many hands, light work); we had room to spare. We could have packed things a bit more carefully, as it turned out.  A fixed shelf in one bookcase (particle board—bah!) broke under the weight that we put on it.  I was able to repair it during my 1st days in Silver Spring.

Weather was good for my 727-mile drive, and traffic light except at rush hour in Columbus and in the D.C. metro area.  So the driving was OK.  Too bad the truck lacked a CD player; but at least I could find an NPR station almost everywhere along the route.

The route was the same as what I drove twice in December:  I-74 to Indianapolis, I-70 thru Columbus and Wheeling, W.V., into Pennsylvania, where I stopped overnite in Washington (a little irony?) after 10 hours on the road (including lunch and supper stops); then onto I-69 south back into W.V., and at Morgantown a “left turn” onto I-68 and into Maryland; at Hancock, back onto I-70 into the D.C. area (I-270 to I-495).  The 2d leg took 5 hours (without a lunch stop), and I pulled in at the residence at 1:40 p.m. on Tuesday the 13th.

The residence is the Burnt Mills neighborhood of Silver Spring, about a mile north of the beltway (I-495) straight up US 29 (the Columbia Pike).  Our house is a long block in from the Pike.

My brother-in-law had graciously offered to help me unload the truck, and he had just arrived when I got here.  It took us 2 hours to unload, which was a bit easier than the loading had been on Saturday.  I spent a good part of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday unpacking what I expect to need in the next couple of months, stacking the books, etc., in searchable piles, arranging some materials onto shelving, and repairing the damaged bookcase.

School was still in session in these parts.  Both the public schools and Don Bosco Cristo Rey finished on Thursday, June 15.  Fr. Mike Conway, our director  (and president of DBCR), brought me to the school on Thursday afternoon to meet some of the staff—some of whom I already knew from earlier visits—and to join the farewell party being given to Bro. Tom Sweeney, leaving DBCR and our community after 10 years here.  Bro. Tom was one of the 3 founding SDBs, so his reassignment is something of a mile-marker.  He will be sorely missed.  His new assignment is the house of formation in Orange, N.J.  I took pictures as long as I was at the little party and wrote an article for E-Service.

I spoke with DBCR’s principal Larry Savoy about how I might help there, e.g. with tutoring and some weekend extracurriculars like hiking.  I forgot to mention visiting historical sites, which abound in this area.  He welcomed the idea.  Otherwise, I don’t have any responsibility at the school except the daily SDB Mass if I opt to go over there (it’s a half hour to school from the residence) and the twice-a-year Penance Services.

I’ll become the SDB delegate for the local Salesian Cooperators, who include some members connected in some way with the school and some from our former parish in D.C., Nativity.  Their delegate for the last few years has been I’ve already been Fr. Manny Gallo, who left on June 27 for a new assignment in Port Chester, N.Y.  I'll join SCs at their provincial congress in Newton, N.J., in mid-July.

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