Tom's communication blog
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Posted: December 16

Sunny days, but not many left

(Rome) On Friday I felt pretty fortunate. We had a conference call for the planning commission for Messina Commons, the new education initiative that I am part of. Some folks were calling from as far away as Spokane, Washington and some from Washington, D.C. As people logged into the conference call, the question kept coming up, “How’s the weather in...?” The general answer was that it was cold and snowy or rainy all over the United States. Finally, my turn came up and I had to admit it was brisk for Rome, a bit above freezing, but sunny and beautiful. “We hate you,” came the chorus in return. And today I went wandering along the Tiber river with my camera to take advantage of the crystal clear sunlight. It was magical in the way that Rome can get in the winter.

Magic is not what I am feeling now, though; more a sense of anxiety about all the little details that still need to be done before the general congregation starts. The house has been quiet this month because we have not been accepting visitors. The staff needed the time to finish painting and try to clean everything up. The big shipment of computers arrived but the screens will get here next week. Since most of them are set up in English, we had to special order them from Germany. And then there was a wildcat strike of truckers that snarled deliveries all over Italy all last week. There are still three weeks before the congregation starts, but with the Christmas and New Years’ holidays, the actual workdays are pretty few. The last big construction project still to finish is the renovation of the chapel in the residence next door. That leaves the little projects to finish and all the things to set up. A number of the communication projects are not quiet done, such as the congregation web page and the file server for the document-writers.

The regular administrative offices are here are also busy since there is a lot of work to do as provincials come to an end to their terms and try to finish up business that has been pending for too long already. Almost a third of the Jesuit in provincials in the world will end their terms of office during the congregation, so all the work of preparing lists of potential new provincials needs to be finished so the next superior general can make his choices and appoint the new provincials. One of our Jesuit traditions is that provincials have to stay in office once a general congregation is officially announced. That means that some men who would have stepped down after finishing their six-year term of office have had to stay on for the congregation. So the new general will have lots to do even before he gets down to starting new work. No one really knows whom the new general will be or what he will want to do. Meanwhile, no one really has time to speculate. And when the sun comes out, you have to seize the moment so you can get bragging rights over your friends.

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