September 11. 2007 takes on a new significance for me this year. I am not speaking of the disaster that we commemorate this day, but an event that happened in the space of 45 minutes here on the campus of Salesian High School in Richmond, California.
This school was the home of the Salesian House of Studies back in the 1930 when I was a student in the then Junior Seminary. We held class in a redwood building of a few small class rooms, office, and relatively large study hall and library unit. The study hall was large enough to serve as a small theater for productions the Salesian Brothers (Montali, Collins, Zunino, Lauer…) put on for the local community, including me as a guest. I was in the seventh grade at that time and was really enthralled by the friendliness and welcoming of the community, which I joined the next August, together with several classmates, including Armand Oliveri from North Beach.
Yesterday I walked through that building, which seemed large to me in the Thirties, but now had shrunk in size. The library where I served as librarian on my first assignment to Richmond as a Salesian Cleric was completely empty. The old study hall, which had been a print shop for some years, only had ghosts of decades past. I passed the classrooms where we studied Latin and English and the rest of the high school subjects, and bowed as I passed Fr. Gabriel Zavattaro’s office, where he presided as Prefect of Studies. My last look envisioning more than seventy years of my life!
This morning a huge caterpillar rolled in at six thirty. In less than an hour the entire building was a pile of splintered wood. Hic transit gloria mundi! Now we are at ground zero for new life and action.