By Magda Dajka, Class of 2020
The junior class had met Father Dufour during their Sophmore semester in Rome, when he was still only Deacon Phil. Every year, several seminarians from the North American College are assigned to the TMC sophomores in Rome to minister to their spiritual needs and help them get to know the city. Deacon Phil was the leader of a troupe of five seminarians, some of the most wonderful people I have ever met. They made visits to our villa once a week for an hour of Holy Adoration, dinner, a lecture, and cheerful conversation. Every Friday morning, they came to Mass with us at St. Peter’s and then took us to the Wine Bar for cappuccinos. Every day during Lent, one of them met us by the tram line and took us to the Station Mass of the day. They became dear friends, like older brothers. When our class heard that newly-ordained Father Dufour was coming to campus before he returned to Rome for a final year of studies, we could hardly contain our excitement.
Father Dufour said the 11:30 A.M. Mass on campus, and it was beautiful. The last time they had seen him, he had been serving a Mass at St. John Paul II’s tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica on Easter Monday. He had looked radiant in his crosswise deacon’s stole, and they thought then that he would make a wonderful priest. Now, here he was, vested in a red chasuble, consecrating the Host in our rustic little chapel. There is something special about seeing someone you have known before he was ordained offer the sacrifice of the Mass; it helps you appreciate what a beautiful, awe-inspiring thing the priesthood is. The choir brought out some of their best pieces for the occasion: the Renaissance motets “If Ye Love Me” and “O Bone Jesu.” The congregation, as usual, sang their responses and the St. Michael Prayer at the end with great gusto. Later, Father Dufour said that that had been one of the most beautiful Masses he had celebrated yet, what with the music, the reverent reception of Communion, and the altar being ad orientem. He reminded us how blessed we are here at Thomas More College.
After Mass, a group of students escorted Father Dufour to the cafeteria for lunch. They spent a happy hour reminiscing about Rome, sharing stories of our adventures since then, and talking about the current goings-on and plans for the semester. Father told us about his life as a priest; he is very happy. Then, we gave him a tour of the campus, delighted to show him our home away from home. Finally, sophomores sat under old Ambrose the, apple tree, and spent more time in leisurely conversation, until Father had to leave and the students had to prepare for class.
It was a joyful afternoon and a refreshing break from study. The friendship of our seminarians is one of the great gifts that the Rome semester gave us; many times have those men inspired us and helped us on our path to Heaven. Father Dufour’s visit was a grace for all of us, as a meeting of friends united in Christ must be. He was encouraged by the deeply Catholic culture of our college, and we were encouraged by his example. With priests like Father Phillip Dufour being ordained, there is hope for the Church!