My flight to Washington DC went very well, and it gave me a chance to have a couple of unexpected encounters. One of the guards at the security checkpoint was actually a parishioner, and a family I met in the airport was from my former parish of St. Thomas a Becket! At one point, in the waiting area of our gate (they were taking the same plane as me), two little girls came by and asked, “Are you Fr. Tom?” I said yes, and they smiled and said “You were at our church!” Our plane was pretty empty, so during the flight one of them came over and sat next to me and just chatted up a storm. I got quite the hug when we parted in DC.
Fr. Scott Woods, a fine young priest from St. John Neumann parish in Gaithersburg, came and got me at Dulles and drove me back to the rectory. I met the pastor, and then I just crashed — I was up at 4:00 am and by now I was *beat*. I snoozed most of the day, and then went to Mother of God for the start of the symposium. The opening talk was given by Fr. Francis Martin, and it was just BRILLIANT. I felt like jumping up half the time in exclamation at some new point he had made. What a grace to be in the presence of true theology — deep faith nourished by deep understanding.
The next day (Saturday) there were 5 other speakers, who were also excellent. The symposium was quite small (only 30-40 participants) so it was easy to get to know people. I spent the whole day there, only getting back around 9 pm. The focus of the symposium was on “Healing the heart for holiness”, with perspectives on both Eastern and Western approaches to healing ministry. Thanks to the format it was easy for participants to add their own $0.02, so I am hoping I was able to contribute something as well. For an intellectual type like me, it was nourishing and stimulating.
Today (Sunday) there was a big brunch around 10:00 am, so I got a chance to see a lot of these people again, and then I had a series of private meetings with different panelists from the conference. We discussed the contribution of the Charismatic Renewal to the Church, the understanding and use of the charismatic gifts and the role of the hierarchy in structuring that use, and the nature of covenant communities in a broader ecclesiological context. This last conversation isn’t finished yet, and I’m hoping to continue it tomorrow.
I fly home late tomorrow, so my next post will likely be from Montreal. God bless!
P.S. In case you are wondering about the state of my computer, what was initially a case of virus removal has turned into a general overhaul. When I get back I’ll be upgrading my memory in order to handle some new software, my Internet connection needs some debugging (it keeps dropping the connection, making the net almost impossible to use), some drivers need updating, etc. I’m hoping all will be well by the end of this week.