A friend of mine who is studying for a Doctorate in Rome at the moment rang this evening and told me of the Catholic life of the Pontifical North American College (NAC) in Rome. the photo above is from the collection on their website on the occasion of the feast of the Immaculate Conception this year. It is an important detail that the students are in clerical dress (as required by the Vicariate of Rome). A few years back, clerical dress was a casus belli in many seminaries, with opponents decrying "clericalism". This does seem a self-defeating cause in an institution which exists for the formation of clerics.
My friend tells me that the NAC is thriving, full of students and priests making the very best of their time in the Eternal City. I think that Bishop Tim Dolan did a great job there as Rector and his work must be continuing in his successors. A book I recommend to seminarians and priests is Bishop Dolan's "Priests for the Third Millennium" which consists of some excellent conferences that he gave to students at the NAC.
Incidentally, one of the differences between Americans and English that I discovered when I was in Rome was the use of the definite article. We always used to speak of "the NAC" whereas the Americans spoke simply of "NAC". Rather as we would refer to finding something "on the internet" while Americans speak of finding something "on internet". I eagerly await erudite correction on this point :-)
UPDATE: It seems that I was talking complete rubbish in this paragraph - see comments passim :-)