We left the basilica and headed out to the reception. We were stopped by a kindly nun on the narrow road confined by a low and sturdy stone wall like you might find in Ireland (in fact. the Irish who were with us remarked that it was about time they saw a stone wall in the United States) in front of the villa. She informed us that we would have to park down the street and that a shuttle would bring us up the reception.
The bus dropped us off on the sprawling lawns, dotted with enormous trees and three giant white tents just a tad smaller than circus tents. The sisters were busy with preparations and we were escorted into the villa, owned by the Knights of Columbus and which is used to host retreats by the sisters. Despite the enormous space allocated for the event, it was quite packed with the Sisters of Life, other religious orders of women and men, priests, family, and well wishers.
The sisters were expert in feeding a lot of people quickly. It must be one of their charisms.
We sat at tables on white chairs and feasted and talked with the many people there. Then later, standing on the lawn, I heard a jazz band start playing. I thought they were Okay until I turned around and saw that I could not see them. They were entirely hidden by the bushes. It was not owing the the hight of the bushes for they were short, but that the musicians were under 10 years of age AND AMAZING.
They stood on the front porch of the villa which was designed a little bit like a stage. The villa originally belonged to a famous, 19th century playwright whose name escapes me at the moment. He used to put on plays there and today it was being used as a stage.
We returned the next day for Mass in the villa chapel and for brunch beneath the tents once again. The stage was set up again and talented members of the families of the women who took their vows the day before entertained us with singing, dancing, instrumental recitals, and stories.
Then it was time for us to leave and say goodbye. The day was not over for the Sisters however. Later in the afternoon they would gather to hear what their new assignments were going to be and they were quite excited. We retreated back to the hotel and spent the remainder of the evening (after a hardy nap) teaching the Irish how to play cards.