He did have to admit, though, that Monsignor Lombardo cut a striking figure. He was a handsome man, slim, with manicured silver hair, and he wore his black cassock and purple sash well. Rimless glasses conveyed the suggestion of intellectual depth. Many of the women had preened when he entered, including some of the nuns.
The priest reminded Piza of the television personality Bishop Fulton Sheen, whose show his mother never missed when it aired in the 1950s. The bishop had a powerful, melodic voice, and was a bona fide Catholic superstar. The comparison to Bishop Sheen hit a wall as soon as Monsignor Lombardo began to speak.
“Thank you, Mother John,” he rasped.
Holy crap! It’s Vito Corleone in disguise.
He would later learn the priest’s gravelly delivery was the result of years of chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes, a vice allegedly on equal footing with his partiality to single malt scotch.
“It’s a pleasure to be here with all of you today,” the Godfather said.
Considering how flat his students had been after the four-day Thanksgiving recess, Piza surmised they might be borderline catatonic returning after Christmas. To his surprise, they were remarkably upbeat.
Once they finished settling in, Sukie McDermott raised her hand. “So, Mr. Piza, did you miss us?”
“Hmm. Depends on what you mean by ‘miss’. If you mean was I locked in my room every day, weeping while I clutched the class photo to my heart, then the answer would be no.” Laughter. “If, however, you mean am I happy to see you guys, that would also be a no.” His grin elicited another laugh.