Saturday morning I headed out very early for a drive to Portland, ME for a wedding - not just A wedding, but another amazing wedding. Much like Mark and Alicia Cernosia's wedding a couple of weeks ago, I have known this couple for a very long time. Jose Peralta and Alicia 'LEE' Smilowicz have been best friends for almost 17 years, ever since they met back in 1992 at Saint Mike's. She is currently a doctor in the Portland area and Jose teaches Spanish and religion at Chevris High School in Portland. They had asked me to do a reading at their wedding and I was happy to do Paul's Letter to the Corinthians which is a very popular reading at weddings. A couple of days ago Jose called and asked me if he had remembered to also ask me to do the "toast" at the reception since I have known then as long as they have known each other - he hadn't........ Jose came to SMC after attending a summer camp over in New York that was run by the Reiss family. Paul Reiss is the former President of Saint Michael's College and even though Paul and his wife Rosemary were NOT able to attend the wedding, three of their "kids" were and it was good to see each of them. Jose, as Fr. Durkin, S.J. and Celebrant of the wedding said, has an "aura" about him - he just engulfs everyone around him with a sense of goodness and love. Not bad words from a priest who has known Jose for a long time. Jose was meant to be a teacher - he just has an amazing effect on everyone who comes to know him. Lee was always going to be a doctor and as an independent, strong woman, nothing, was going to get in her way -there were many turns and challenges to their relationship but their friendship was never in question - Paul's Letter to the Corinthians mentions "love is patient" in their case it sure was and perhaps that may be why it took 17 years of a wonderful friendship for the two of them to get married. There were several SMC friends of both the bride and the groom who were also at the wedding and it was good to see Nicole Cremo (a psychology major who now is a 3rd grade teacher), Coleen Condon, Heidi St. Peter (Director of our MOVE program) and Dawn Bazin PLUS both Kurt and Kainne Hansbury. All of these folks have maintained friendships with each other AND with Lee/Jose ever since they were all together at Saint Michael's College so many years ago. Others at the reception were amazed at the friendships and the relationships these SMC alums have all maintained. One woman commented to me how amazing it must be for me to be able to have followed these two young people for over 17 years as they have traveled on their own journeys which led them to their wedding - she is right - I am lucky and it truly is amazing.
The drive TO Portland yesterday morning and the drive BACK early this morning also provided me with the opportunity to see the foliage as the sun was coming up. I am a huge foliage fan and enjoy driving out into the mountains armed with my camera every fall - this year the color is some of the best I have ever seen in my 28 years around here. SPECTACULAR is the word that came to me as the morning sun soaked the trees - with a frost predicted tonight they are forecasting that this will make the colors even more vibrant so tomorrow I will head back to the mountains with my camera and then probably go kayaking!
We have no classes Monday or Tuesday as this is the "long weekend" that our students (and many of us too) have been looking forward to. The semester is rolling along and with both mid-term exams AND pre-registration right around the corner, everyone needed a break. We also have two students diagnosed with the H1N1 which was inevitable - hopefully students will have a chance to get some sleep at home, some good home-cooked meals and a chance to re-energize as they get ready for the challenges of the rest of the semester. Health Services has been wonderful about making sure that we are ALL educated about the flu and in providing the seasonal flu shots for our students. I spoke with Mary Mason who is the Director of Health Services and she said that as many as 200 students a day were showing up at Health Services to get their shots. I have spoken to each of my classes about the flu and all members of the faculty have been urged to discuss this with our classes and to make sure that the students know NOT to come to class IF they are sick - attendance policies can sometimes get in the way of students making wise decisions when they ARE sick. As the H1N1vaccine becomes available, I am sure that they will make these available to our students too. Classes continue to go very well and I am looking forward to grading their second set of papers over the next couple of days while they are away.
Take care, be well, and as always please keep all of our veterans and the current members of our military in your thoughts and prayers. I happened to run into one of our alums (Ted Brady) who works for Senator Patrick Leahy at my favorite bagel shop near my home in Williston. I brought to his attention that the woman who works for Sen. Leahy and who is in charge of veterans' issues had been very, very helpful to a couple of veterans (including one of our alums who is now enrolled in graduate school here at SMC) - there has been a delay in the VA providing some veterans with "out of pocket" expenses as they have enrolled in college. She was helpful in directing them to the appropriate place to get a "loan" from the VA to cover these expenses - Ted told me that he would make sure that she heard this compliment and that he would also let the Senator know. Our veterans already have enough to deal with and don't need to worry about some of these issues and getting help from Senator Leahy's office was a very good thing.