Infinite thanks to Jason Pedicone and his colleagues at the Paideia Institute for Humanistic Study, Inc. for the super organization of every detail for four memorable days we spent in New York City and nearby New Jersey and Pennsylvania 16-20 May, for paying the way and organizing all the necessities and conveniences of our various stops.
My memories will be eternal of the event as well as my gratitude for the sacrifices and the attention and the respect and so many other virtues exhibited in the meanwhile.
All along this tour I was meeting new students and extraordinary other students I had in class 20, 30, almost 40 years ago. We had grand reunions, tears and hugs while looking at our aging.
We began on Thursday 16 May with a walking tour of Washington Square Park guided by Ron Janoff, for many years an administrator at NYU. Of particular note was Washington’s arch with the one Latin inscription ACTA EXITUS PROBAT: “The outcome confirms the deeds”.
Afterwards we relaxed at the “Caffe Reggio” and had a long visit.
Thursday evening we went to a reception held in the embassy of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Knights of Malta to the United Nations, where Ambassador and Mrs. Robert Shafer welcomed many of Reginald’s former students, some dating back to the first summer school in 1985.
We had a good night’s rest at Leo House, where Reginald met Sr. Kathleen Ries, CSA (Sister of St Agnes), who once lived in the convent at St Florian’s Parish, Milwaukee, the same place where Reginald now teaches Latin. After a long and varied career Sr. Kathleen now serves on the Administration of Leo Haus and on the board of UNANIMA International, an NGO advocating for the poor, immigrants and refugees at the United Nations in New York.
On Friday we traveled to the Brooklyn Latin School. Only six years old, this charter high school is already ranked first in the state in part due to its requirement that all students study Latin for each of the four years. We attended class with the older students where we read and played with a poem from Catullus. We attended a class of younger students where they wanted and got a whirlwind tour of the ablative absolute – in 45 minutes. Reginald addressed several hindered students during a general session when he also responded to their questions. After lunch Reginald was led in triumphal procession through the student dining room.
On Friday in the later afternoon friends gathered along with members of the New York Classical Club for their annual Iter Botanicum at the New York Botanical Gardens where Reginald held a reading session on the lawn under the stately trees. Prof. Mathew McGowan, classics scholar and director of the honors program at Fordham, produced a magnificent booklet of classical texts about nature and plants and animals from Virgil, Cicero, Plinius’ Natural History among others. Especially the guest teachers who were there were astonished at what Cicero had to say in De Naturorum book 2 about the intelligent principle driving the world. Parts of the group went off to visit the botanical museum and an exhibit of Renaissance botanical books. The weather was out of this world. We stayed until they closed for the night.
We slipped away to nearby Pugsley Pizza (motto: Pizza is good but Love is it) where we chatted in Italian with the proprietors from central Sicily and in Latin and English on into the evening.
On Saturday morning we traveled to the Princeton, New Jersey, area for a visit to the Lawrenceville School. We were greeted by an organ recital in their almost medieval chapel, where the organist was practicing and played for us a Passacalia by Bach. The first class of students we visited played with a portion of Plautus’ Miles gloriosus, and we considered a Papal tweet. In the second class we played with the Colloquia feminaria, one of Erasmus’ satires against the church, in which an old-time Abbot converses with an educated woman. After pizza, Reginald spoke and responded to questions and comments during a general session.
On Saturday in the late afternoon we traveled to the very spot where George Washington crossed the Delaware river. There we sat under the trees on the river bank on the beautiful lawn and on picnic tables. We read the super and fantastic and absolutely first class account by Francis Glass, Life of George Washington in Latin Prose published in 1835. Two years after publication a pristine copy was given and eventually ended up in the library of Reginald.
We had a private lunch at a local German and German speaking restaurant to celebrate the academic achievements of family and friends.
On Sunday morning a large group of us boarded a tour boat provided by a generous benefactor and circumnavigated Manhattan Island with the help of the super urban expert Arthur who gave explanations of every sky-scraper down the line. In the meanwhile for several hours off and on we were reading an extraordinary description of the new world written in Latin by the Dutch Johannes de Laet, Utriusque Americae Descriptio published in 1633. In his writings we discovered the word abludunt, used once in the history of recorded Latin literature by Horace and Johannes de Laet in his description of the coastline and their first encounters with the native inhabitants. Coffee from a box and bagels galore were provided.
On Sunday afternoon many gathered at Columbia University in the midst of all the commotion of their graduation exercises. There Reginald spoke and responded to questions and we read two letters of Cicero to the family.
To cap off the event at Columbia, Jason presented a surprise to Reginald. News came from the Vatican that the number of followers of the Pope’s Latin tweets toped 100,000 on that day – it gains about 1,000 followers per day. A declamation was given. A smaller group gathered at a local Greek restaurant for some supper.
On Sunday evening a group gathered nearby at Our Lady of Notre Dame Church and celebrated the feast of Pentecost and closed the Easter cycle according to the ordinary, universal, Catholic liturgical rite of the Eucharist celebrated according to the contemporaneous accepted Latin texts of the Missale Romanum of Paul VI, from Reginald’s copy of 1977. The local cantor artistically led us in singing the Pentecost sequence – twice for good measure, it was so beautiful. One of the parish priests, Fr. Michael Holleran helped us with gracious hospitality, and he sang the haunting Carthusian Alleluia, a contribution from his 22 years as a Carthusian (7 years at the Grande Chartreuse, depicted in the film “Into Great Silence”).
On Monday morning we returned to Reginald’s native Milwaukee where he is preparing to begin his summer program in Latin held annually during June and July at St. Florian School. To enquire about summer school or instruction in Latin throughout the year or to set up a visit for private tutoring write:
Reginald Thomas foster
3553 South 41st Street, Apt #403
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53221-5744
Tel. Cell: (four one four) seven five five – nine six eight six
Here is a TV segment on Reginald teaching Latin in Milwaukee.
We join our voice to that of the Paidea Institute:
The Paideia Institute would like to thank its Junior Board for their help in organizing this event. It would also like to thank the Lawrenceville School, the Brooklyn Latin School, Columbia University’s Department of Classics, The Permanent Observer Mission of the Knights of Malta to the United Nations, the New York Classical Club and the Institute’s almuni and anonymous donors for their generous support.
Reginaldus Foster – Daniel McCarthy