For dinner last night we decided to check out L'Eau Vive (The Living Water?), a restaurant run by a Carmelite missionary order of consecrated laywomen (The Missionary Family Donum Dei), tucked away down a little path between Largo di Torre Argentina and Piazza Navona. The Notre Dame student guide (which has been incredibly helpful) recommended it. And rightly too! The sisters who served us were gracious (one from Brazil, the other from Burkina Fasso) and bubbled with energy. Besides, Italian was quite obviously a second (or more!) language for all of us, so we could communicate just fine. :-)
Half way through the meal, Sr. C asks me, "So, you are a priest of which religious community?" I pause, a little startled. Is it tattooed on my forehead? J bust out laughing. I explain the situation, that I'm entering seminary in the fall etc. etc. Sr. C beams and we talk a little bit about my conversion story. "We'll pray for you!" I was most grateful! Their order will be on my daily prayer list as well.
Around 9:30 pm, we heard the sound of singing floating down from above [turns out there is a much larger dining space above, with beautiful frescoed ceilings. The next time, we're sitting there!], and a little while later, as is their custom, some sisters joined us downstairs to sing a beautiful rendition of the Ave Maria of Lourdes (in French. The founder of the order was a French diocesan priest).
On the bus ride back, just as we are approaching our stop at S. Maria Maggiore, a group of African women board -- I notice the words "Donum Dei" on the clothing of one of them -- turns out they're of the same group indeed! We struck up a hurried conversation. Anyway, it is simply delightful to see so many young, enthusiastic workers, full of zeal for souls. Another sign of hope.