The Pontifical North American College

November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving Weekend 2015

Thanksgiving at the College is not your Grandma’s Thanksgiving. The absence of family members and being in the United States of America may seem to be mutually exclusive with celebrating this national holiday, but as Deacon Jim Morin’s (Omaha, ’16) opening remarks at the Thanksgiving Banquet reminded us, the bonds of our faith hold us closer than even the bonds of family and native land. And so — rather than filling a void — the simultaneous solemnity and frivolity of our many Thanksgiving celebrations are a manifestation of our joy and gratitude for the many gifts we have received from our loving Father in Heaven.

Bishop Thomas Tobin (Providence, '76) celebrates the Eucharist for the College community before Thanksgiving dinner.
Bishop Thomas Tobin (Providence, ’73) celebrates the Eucharist for the College community before Thanksgiving dinner.

While 6:00 am is only a slightly earlier start than our usual daily Morning Prayer and Mass, 189 runners — including 84 guests — were crazy enough to participate in this year’s Turkey Trot around the Vatican Walls, which the College claims is the only 5K road race to go around a sovereign nation. Besides awards given to the top three places, most improved, best costume, and best hall participation by percentage (4th Central – 100 percent) and by year (Class of 2018 – 73 percent), all participants received a cookie and a sports drink. After the race, seminarians retreated back to their respective residence halls for a relaxing, homemade breakfast that seriously threatened their eating capacities for Thanksgiving dinner.

Our community gathered at noon for a Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by Bishop Thomas Tobin (Providence, ’73). After expressing gratitude for being back in Rome for Thanksgiving at the College again, and thanking the Rector Monsignor James Checchio (Camden, ’92, C’97) for his service, Bishop Tobin preached that the way we express our gratitude to God is first by being aware of our gifts, then caring for and protecting them, and then lastly sharing them with others in service. At the Offertory, a special collection was taken up for services for the poor in Rome through the Missionaries of Charity and Dono di Maria, and for emergency relief for refugees.

The traditional Thanksgiving turkey did not disappoint this year at the College.
The traditional Thanksgiving turkey did not disappoint this year at the College.

After Mass, everyone gathered in the refectory for Thanksgiving dinner, which was preceded by the traditional reading of this year’s presidential proclamation of Thanksgiving, read by the Honorable Kenneth Hackett, Ambassador to the Holy See for the United States of America. Also present was former Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon and former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, with his wife Callista. The fifth-year student priests of the College, who waited the meal, also provided the entertainment and dessert, performing a song composed especially for the occasion while bringing out their own homemade pumpkin pie. The banquet concluded with a toast to the United States of America by Father Alec Scott (Washington D.C., ’15) and the singing of “God Bless America.” Seminarians then spent the afternoon in typical Thanksgiving fashion: calling loved ones, watching football games, and sleeping off the turkey.

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone, but the house still celebrates the weekend with the New Man and Old Man comedy shows (Saturday night) and the Spaghetti Bowl Football Game on Sunday. Thanksgiving was once again a great occasion to come together as a house and be grateful for family, our nation, our faith, and all the many other gifts with which God has blessed us. Happy Thanksgiving!