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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Leaving for Cologne

Dear Friends,

This is Father Willy Raymond coming back after a hiatus of a week. The hotel I was staying in in Dusseldorf, Germany, did not offer a readily available site for me to plug in messages. However, I can recap the events of the past week while they remain fresh in my mind.

Father David Guffey dropped me at the Los Angeles Airport at 2 PM for the 5:30 flight to Heathrow in London. Getting out of Los Angeles was like being condemned to purgatory for a lengthy spell. I waited in one line for over an hour before getting to the end and being told that I had to go check in at another place before I could bring my bag to be run through security. So after waiting in the check-in line for another hour, I then had to wait in the original line to deposit a bag. After all this then I had to go through security with carry-ons and fly down to the gate. I made it with a few minutes to spare. British Airways has had a caterers' strike so they gave each of us a voucher for $20 to purchase food before getting on board since no meals were being served on this nine hour flight.

The flight was uneventful and I was able to get caught up on some reading on Pope Benedict XVI, a Biography, by John Allen. It seems pretty thorough and almost balanced. His bias is slightly against the new pope, after all he is Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter. After a brief stopover in London, we continued on to Cologne.

This was my first time in Germany and I find the streets and surroundings very clean. The farms seem to be very carefully laid out with beautifully symetrical fields of vegetables one can see from the airplane's approach to Cologne.

On the ground I met Wolfgang Raach as soon as I landed and had gone through security. Wolfgang is a German national who specializes in special ops and is among the most highly-decorated German soldiers active today. He lives on Malta with his wife and two daughters and is a consultant for films being made especially in Malta. He served as director of security for us for the five days that Jim and Kerri Caviezel were with us ini Germany. My arrival was a 5:30, Wolfgang and our driver Oliver and I waited over coffee until Jim and Kerri arrived at 8:30 from a stopover in Paris.

WE met them at the Customs gate and brought them straight to the hotel in Dusseldorf. It was a Best Western Majestic Hotel. After a few minutes to change we met Father John Phalen, CSC, President of Holy Cross Family Ministries, and Beth Mahoney, who has organied much of our participation in World Youth Day. Laura Philips from Holy CRoss Family Ministries and Father Mac Phaidin, CSC, President Emeritus of Stonehill College also joined us.

WE all went for a quick and late meal at a venerable old German restaurant, founded in 1838. Met up with Clarence Gilyard, the talented actor from Walker Texas Ranger, and his wife, Elena and their three Children, Paul, Rachel and Arthur.

Clarence is a convert to Catholicism, about 8 years ago, who has a great love for the Catholic Church and has developed many friends among religious orders and clergymen from many dioceses. This past couple of years he has been pursuing a degree from Southern Methodist University, a Masters in Fine Arts if not mistaken. He has a great spirit and is filled with enthusiasm for the spiritual life and its nourishment with a life a prayer.

His series, Walker, Texas Ranger, is in syndication in Italy and Germany so he was recognized often by young people as we were walking around this past week.

There is much more to say about the Pope'a arrival by boat on the Rhine, "The Passion of the Christ" with Jim Caviezel and the Vigil and the Mass. It will have to wait until tomorrow.

God bless and thanks to all who have visited this novice's blog.

Fr. Willy Raymond, CSC.

1 comment:

Agape said...

Welcome back! Your news, and any photo or video material you my have, is eagerly awaited.