The Christening of a Company

Chistening 1

In the Chapel of St. Thomas Moore, Law School Building, University of Notre Dame

There is an ancient custom of christening a ship about to set sail. This tradition spans thousands of years: from antiquity, through the Middle Ages, and into modernity. In the ceremony a prayer is said and a bottle of wine is broken over the bow of the vessel (or, as was customary for the Norsemen, a human blood was smeared instead–you’ll be spared all the gory details). Call me sentimental, but last Wednesday–a crisp, brilliant winter day–found my wife, parents, and me driving down to the University of Notre Dame where Duba & Company was “christened” by Fr. Michael, a former classmate of mine from our years together at the University.

We arrived on campus via Notre Dame Avenue. This entry point, with the Golden Dome directly ahead, must feel something of what it was like for a Roman general to return triumphant to the city of Rome to behold the Roman Colosseum, that old familiar landmark that symbolizes the glory of the Eternal City. We arrived on campus in time for an intimate evening Mass at the St. Thomas Moore Chapel in the University’s law school building, a stone chapel that reminds one both of the private chapel of a European palace and the environs of a monastery: at once noble, strong, simple, and beautiful. The Mass concluded, Fr. Michael donned vestments and–under the stain-glass gaze of St. Thomas Moore (“A Man for All Seasons”), glowing in the evening light–conducted a ceremony to bless the endeavors of Duba & Company.

Now, it never made much sense to me to break a bottle of champagne or wine over the ship’s bow (or, per the British custom, to throw an ornate goblet into the sea; but even the British, realizing what they had done, began to retrieve the precious vessels from the sea for re-use). We, therefore, made our way to Rocco’s Restaurant and ordered a bottle of wine (which we drank) along with some very good pizza.

We reminisced, over food and drink, about our wedding reception–to which Fr. Michael was a witness. Instead of a garter toss, in what I’ll admit was a stroke of genius, we opted for a cigar toss where a bouquet of cigars was vaulted by yours truly into a horde of gentlemen (is it possible to have a horde of gentlemen?) I’ll confess we were placing all our hopes on the magnanimity of the lucky bastard who caught the bouquet to share the spoils in a fraternal gesture. This was not to be. It was at this point that Matt, my future brother-in-law and cigar aficionado (as well as a very good home-brewer), sort of saddles up to Fr. Michael, and the following exchange takes place: [Matt]: “Would you like a cigar?” [Fr. Michael]: “I’ll have a cigar, but only if you have a Carlos Torano Exodus 1959, box pressed robusto.” [Matt]: “Why, as a matter-of-fact, I do.” And how I love this small detail–this moment in time–when life comes to us as a story.

Fr. Michael at Wedding Reception

Sister (Maureen), Brother-in-Law (Brian), Fr. Michael, and Author (Duba-O’Lonergan Wedding Reception, August 2011)

Cigar Toss

Cigar Toss (Duba-O’Lonergan Wedding Reception, August 2011)

To conclude, it was with some reticence that this story of Duba & Company’s christening was even shared publicly in a post. But then it occurred to me, just today, how as we left Rocco’s restaurant I happened to glance at the picture wall,  a sort of hall of fame. And there, in true Italian fashion, was a picture of the pope (along with images of television personality Regis Philbin and legendary Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, with whom I’d once had the distinction of standing  in the confessional line as we waiting to confess our sins). Well, I thought, to myself: at least I’m not posting a likeness of the pope. But, then again, what the hell?

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI

This post is dedicated to Matt & Christy Hawley, hosts extraordinaire.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *