FROM AN OLD ROMAN – A Good Samaritan…
Lectures started the next day and we gathered in the Great Hall to hear the wisdom of our elders. The Hall held about 400 students mainly from Prop, but also from neighbouring Religious Institutes. It was semi-circular in shape with good acoustics, the lecturer presided from a podium, (called “the Tub”). There were other smaller lecture halls for other subjects: Scripture, Biblical Greek, Church History, Canon Law and so on. But Theology was a cyclical four-year course taught in the Great Hall.
Our lecturers were priests, mainly Italian, some of them quite brilliant, others, as is often the case, deadly boring. Some had very responsible jobs in religious orders and the Roman Curia. They were talented Latinists but not very good at spoken English.
We all had a problem with the accent. Latin spoken by Europeans is tinged with an accent. Break that up into being tinged with a regional dialect as well and the Tower of Babel comes to life.
I was lucky (or blessed). My prefect in the first year was a Thai lad of my own age and upbringing whose name was John. He had done his three years of Philosophy at Prop and was fluent in Latin, Italian and English. We became good friends and sat together in the Great Hall. As a matter of course, John just wrote down everything said by the Lecturer in Latin. Then during study time in the evening he shared all this with me and I put it in my notebook (In Latin!).
John was ordained with us, went back to Bangkok, came back to Rome to study Scripture for three years, returned to the seminary in Bangkok where he taught Scripture for the next 35 years. In his spare time he translated the Bible into Thai! We are still friends.