This was published on October 16, 2006
The train rides, chicken basket, the taste of Kaiser Beer, the Kartause, rooming with Jared and him hitting snooze for two hours in the morning. Quite afternoon hikes in the foothills of the alps, jumping in the freezing cold midebach. Urs, the Chiak, Judy's, the glass boot full or delicious beer. Happiness, sheer joy.
It has been six years since I experienced all this yet some of these memories are more vivid in my mind than what I did yesterday. Some days I can smell the air and feel the gravel on my feet on the walk through the courtyard to the chapel. It's hard to imagine that it all took place six years ago. The four months I spent in Gaming really shaped me into the person I am today.
My time in Austria really brought me to a new level in my faith. I experienced the universality of the Church in its entire splendor. Everywhere I traveled around there was an element of the spiritual. I was able to visit the tombs of Popes and Saints. I was able to walk through the Holy Doors of Saint Peters; all of this in the great Jubilee year of 2000. I saw incorrupt bodies and vocal cords of Saints. There were difficult times on these trips but it made the final destinations so much more worth it.
The relationships and friendships I developed during my time abroad where also amazing. I made some of the best friends I have ever had during that time. I still stay in touch with many of them and they still continue to guide me a long my spiritual path. The funny thing is that even those I don't talk to that often, I still feel a very lasting and strange connection to. There is something very deeply spiritual there and I pray for the people I was over there with often. Oddly enough a large percentage of my friends on myspace are people I was in Austria with.
The classes I took there brought me to a much deeper understanding of Theology and History. Medieval World with Father Conrad, while difficult to sit through at times, gave me a very deep understanding of the History of the Church during that time period. Dr. Asci's Christian Marriage class helped me to look at and view marriage from a perspective I never had before. His Western Spirituality class is what continues to drive me today to strive and have a prayer life.
Although I will never experience anything like that in my life again, I will always carry it with me. I thank God every day for all the amazing opportunities he gave me through Franciscan University. To all of you who were in the Fall of 2000 Austria crowd, happy 6th anniversary. I love you guys and think of our times there often. May God Bless whatever you are doing in life now and continue to help you grow on your path towards him.