Sunday, November 15, 2009

Home Again, Home Again....

And so, gang, it begins: greetings from Baltimore and the Fall Classic -- the November Meeting of the US bishops, which begins tomorrow in this, the "hometown" of the Stateside church.

Before all else, a programming note -- as opposed to the 9am start-time of years past, the plenary will have its first full session in the afternoon, after the 300-odd prelates in attendance spend the morning in closed-door regional meetings and take lunch. Given the change, full coverage here will kick off sometime before 1.30pm ET (1800 GMT), when the Floor opens with Cardinal Francis George's Presidential Address and the annual remarks of the apostolic nuncio to these shores, Archbishop Pietro Sambi.

More on livestreams, etc. later... in the meantime, though, grazie Dio for the delay -- after a chaotic last week, weekend and Opening Night, a bit more time to recharge is nothing short of priceless.

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Speaking of the "Super-Nuncio," Sambi presided earlier tonight at each November's first big bash: the annual Plenary Eve reception for the bishops thrown by the University of Notre Dame -- which, given this year's commencement controversy, took on an added import... of which seemingly everyone present was well-aware.

In a notable gesture, B16's man in Washington spent almost all of the two-hour function perched at the back of the room, unmistakably visible to all... and just as importantly, able to keep tabs on everyone who came.

With Domer-in-Chief Fr John Jenkins working the penthouse suite, two cardinals -- Washington's McCarrick and LA's Mahony -- made a prominent show of support, joined by a wide-ranging cast of 30 bishops and a rotating full house of everyone else.

While the university's departing ordinary, Bishop John D'Arcy, kept up his traditional co-hosting role alongside Jenkins, the late arrival of the Indiana prelate's freshly-named successor, Bishop Kevin Rhoades, saw an impromptu reception line of well-wishers form at the front of the room, keeping yesterday's appointee from moving into the heart of the crowd.

That said, don't read anything into Rhoades' timing -- wrapping up what he called a "whirlwind weekend," the incoming bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend had just come from a mid-afternoon press conference in his now-former charge of Harrisburg, his home church.

And now, all that said, zzzz.... All apologies if this brief reads a bit disjointedly; having slept little more than three hours these last two busy nights, this scribe is already running on fumes and could use some rest. So, 'til noontime or thereabout, to everyone who helped make this coverage possible, all the thanks in the world... and to everyone all around, sit back, relax, and enjoy the days... and of course, as always, stay tuned.

PHOTO: Basilica of the Assumption, Baltimore/Idle Type/Flickr