Back in November (gosh I forgot how far behind I had gotten on these blog posts) we celebrated our first Thanksgiving away from the states for many of us (it was my second, as my first had been during my semester studying in Austria during my time at Steubenville). We made a very big deal out of the weekend, especially for New Men. This was, I think, both to really help solidify the camaraderie in the house and amongst the first-years, as well as to keep us too busy to be homesick. We took the day off from school, slept in, and had a big breakfast on each hall. Our hall deacon had many of us help him prepare eggs and bacon, a rare commodity in Rome, I can assure you, as well as some banana smoothies. We had an enormous Thanksgiving dinner after our college Mass. They broke us up according to states, so we had a joint table as Michigan with another state which I can't remember right now. Ambassador Diaz delivered a speech from President Obama for Thanksgiving. Many bishops and cardinals were present as well- pretty much all the American ones get adopted at Thanksgiving. It was an outstanding time. Finally, in a most ridiculous move, the fifth-year priests by tradition give 'the presenting of the pies'. A few of them got up and sang I Believe I Can Fly with the lyrics appropriately modified ('I believe in the pie/ I believe in the pumpkin pie... I believe I'll have some more/ Keep it coming through that kitchen do-ooooo-OR, etc.) while the others brought out the homemade pumpkin pies to each table. It was pretty hilarious. We then had a movie showing that evening for some college classics that really can't be described in a blog post.
Then, New Man weekend began. We had a big New Man dinner Friday night, consisting of homemade Mexican food- guacamole, salsa, and fajitas, among other things. It was wonderful, since Mexican is a very rare treat overseas. Saturday evening we had our big New Man Show. Again, this is something almost impossible to describe here. It was essentially a one hour comedic show that we first-years had to get together and perform, a little akin to Saturday Night Live or something of the sort. Every year does it differently, but I guess ours turned out exceptionally well. The Old Men were a tough crowd- making animal noises and calling out during scene transitions if things took longer than they wanted them to, but people were very impressed. They thought it was one of the best in a long time. I got a lot of compliments, as well- the skit in which I played a part was a parody of the Bud Lite radio commercials "Real Men of Genius", except for the seminary, so it was "Real Men of Virtue". We parodied various elements of the seminary life in each one-minute song. I got to be the radio announcer/narrator for each of them, which was a lot of fun. It took a great deal of practice time, but it paid off. People were very impressed that we decided to do it live and not tape it, as some people do with skits of that nature. We even had a live drummer and pianist for the bit, and our show director, who was the backup singer, did an exceptional job. The show really brought our class together in a way that hadn't occurred up to that point, so it did its job. The Old Man show followed, which was also hilarious.
Finally, the weekend was capped-off with the Spaghetti Bowl and Thanksgiving Weekend Cookout. It was a flag football game between the New Men and the Old Men. The New Men hadn't won in ten years (not surprisingly, given the intentional imbalance in the teams), and we were really hoping to break the losing streak. It was a really tough first half, with us ending it down 12-27. We really came back after that, though, and made it a game worth watching. The final five or ten minutes were incredibly tense, and we screamed our lungs out. People were getting really excited. Except for the first set of downs of the second half, we had completely shut-out the Old Men. We got a couple needed interceptions, made a couple exceptional plays, and when the smoke cleared...
we lost the game 32-35. *sigh* We came in for the final huddle post-game a little disheartened, but Ross, our coach and fellow New Man, was very gracious and he and the rest of the community applauded our efforts (and his own, very importantly). Ross was an assistant college football coach for a while before becoming a seminarian, so his expertise went a long way toward making it as close of a game as it was. We had a lot of fun and, like with the New Man Show, grew in fraternity through the game. I played D-Line, which is probably pretty much the only thing I could have done, not having played football formally before. We actually did really well- we cut through the Old Man line easily, but they played very cleverly and had their quarterback what must have been at least eight yards back, if not more. It took them a long time to find a guy who could hike the ball that far, but it paid off big time. That gave him enough time and space to get rid of the ball before we could take him down.
It really is rather impressive how many gifted athletes we have in our class. I think people sometimes lose sight of the fact that, while we're studying for the priesthood, we're still young men. We have a couple marathon runners, a couple college football players (and one college football assistant coach, as well!), and any number of other athletes. Our AMERICAN college soccer team, the North American Martyrs (on which our very own Father James Adams played and plays), managed to place second in the Clericus Cup last year against all the other international schools. That's not too shabby, if you ask me. We actually have one of the nicest fields in Rome- the Swiss Guard come to play sports on our sports field!
I took some pictures on Thanksgiving and gave Francis Marotti my camera so he could take some shots from the game, so here they are.
Here is the Ambassador giving his speech.
Here are the fifth-year priests singing their pie song. [:)
If you look closely you can see OUR fifth-year, Fr. James Adams, serving champagne below.
Some pre-game stretches
You see some of our spectators
Here we are, slowly coming together
Man, that's a fierce football player! What a game face!
The two teams jogging to loosen up and get warmed up for the big game.
Here we are, being led in prayer by our rector, Monsignor Checchio, prior to the kickoff.
Our band and color commentators
Here's a good shot of me on the line- it didn't happen often and will probably never happen again, so I'm glad Francis got a picture of it. [:)
This is just overall an awesome shot- I especially like the back of the shirt caught in the picture. It is very apropos.
So that, as they say, is that. I rolled my ankle a couple weeks before the game, so I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to play, but one of the priests was also a paramedic in a past life and he taped me up well enough that I could get out there and smash into my brother seminarians. It was great fun and I'm glad I got to be a part of it.