Did I go to confession with Fr Busa?

In 1974 I was the near-fourteen year-old son of a US Army officer, Major Bruce C. Johnson, stationed at a base in Vicenza, Italy. We had lived in Vicenza since the summer of 1972 and would leave in the summer of 1975 for our next assignment, in Mannheim, Germany.

At the time I was a young Catholic much interested in baseball, music, and using my broken Italian to speak to Italian girls. The thought of committing my life to the academic study of Thomas Aquinas was of course non-existent; six years later as a sophomore in college I would buy my first Summa before even learning a word of Latin, so sure was I of my intended path. But in 1974 in Vicenza I was an average student, at best. And an average Catholic, at best.

Yet when the family went to mass on Sunday I of course went along, and obediently went to even extraordinary activities, such as a Lenten Penitential Service in 1975. The only thing I remember about that service was that it was long, and that I didn't go to confession with one of our American priests, but with an Italian one.

So imagine my surprise when a while back I was cleaning up my personal library, and thumbed through my family's Jerusalem Bible from my youth, out of which fell the handout we had from that Lenten Service, with the name of a renowned Italian Thomist squarely on the list of priests in attendance that evening!

List of confessors for the Lenten Penitential Service in Vicenza, 1975

The part of me that is a hopeless romantic would so love it were I able to prove that I had confessed to Fr Busa that evening, but truth must prevail. I simply don't know. Near-misses can bring a smile, though, and seeing this brings to me a smile of gratitude to God for having directed my ways to St. Thomas even without a known meeting with Fr Busa.

But wouldn't that have been so cool....?

PS: a PDF of the whole pamphlet is here.