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N.Y. bishops prepare for ad limina pilgrimage

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

November 6, 2019

From November 9 to November 16, all the bishops of New York State and some accompanying priests will gather in Rome for the ad limina Apostolarum. Inasmuch as this takes place approximately every five years, this is my second opportunity to participate in this privileged pilgrimage “at the threshold of the Apostles.”

Upon my return, in an upcoming issue of the North Country Catholic, I hope to share with you some reflections on my experience in the Eternal City.

The purpose of this “visit” is to strengthen the bishop’s responsibility as successor of the Apostles and of his hierarchical communion with the Successor of Peter. The basic purpose for the “ad limina” is clearly stated in canon law: to venerate the tombs of the Holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, and to meet with the Successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, to inform him of the state of the bishop’s diocese (canon 400).

This visit is seen as an important moment in the exercise of the Holy Father’s pastoral ministry. On such a visit, the Supreme Pastor receives the Pastors of the particular Churches (dioceses) and discusses with them questions concerning their ecclesial mission.

I remember well my conversation with Pope Benedict XVI at my previous ad limina visit and his expressed concern about our diocesan efforts to support our families.

Such an occasion provides for an exchange of information and a mutual sharing of pastoral experiences, including the challenges encountered and the joy experienced in pastoral ministry, as well as the sharing of the pastoral plans to address the challenges. As done previously, approximately six months prior to this visit, our Diocese provided the Holy See with an extensive reflection (Quinquennial Report) on the “state of the diocese” since the last visit (period from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2018). Members of the diocesan staff were instrumental in providing the data for this document. The report reflected our concerted effort to address our established diocesan priorities: to build a culture of vocations, strengthen faith formation in family life, and to build our Church with living stones.

The ad limina visit is, for this bishop, an invitation and a stimulus to compare my responsibility of caring for the faithful of the Diocese of Ogdensburg with the universal vocation of the Church.

This is also an opportunity for me to reflect on my own episcopal mission in light of the witness of both St. Peter and St. Paul, the two great Apostles who heeded our Lord’s invitation: Follow Me.

I remember that Pope Benedict XVI reiterated several times in my first ad limina visit that we must have a relationship with Jesus Christ and that it begins in our families. He concluded our meeting by reminding us that Jesus Christ is the answer to life’s struggles. His successor, Pope Francis continues to proclaim the same message.

I ask for your prayers as I set out for this pilgrimage. On Friday, November 15th, as we conclude our pilgrimage, I am scheduled to preside and preach at Rome’s cathedral, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. I am humbled and honored to shepherd this local Church and will carry your cares and concerns with me throughout my journey.

Thank you for your prayerful support!

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