By Bishop Terry R. LaValley
In addition to the graced opportunity to meet and speak about our particular dioceses with the Holy Father, a second important element of a bishop’s ad limina visit to Rome concerns his meetings with some of the staff (Congregations or Dicasteries and Councils) that assist the Holy Father in ministry to the Church Universal.
We met with the Pontifical Councils for the Laity, for Promoting New Evangelization, and for the Family.
Not surprisingly, most of the concerns voiced by one bishop were the same for others. We could speak of the vitality of the faith of our parishioners and of the real challenges that lie ahead.
The third element of my pilgrimage to the threshold of the Apostles was the celebration of Mass at the four basilicas of Rome.
On Black Friday, we celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Altar of the Tomb of St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. A most powerful and inspiring moment of that Mass took place when all of the successors of the Apostles present (the New York State Bishops) prayed the ancient Apostles Creed together.
The next day we celebrated Mass at the Basilica dedicated to the Apostle to the Gentiles at St. Paul Outside the Walls. We also celebrated Eucharist at the Basilica of Mary Major and at St. John Lateran. You will remember that John Lateran is the Cathedral Church for the Bishop of Rome. Providentially, we celebrated Mass here on the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, November 30th. The Gospel scene for this Feast Day is at the Sea of Galilee where Jesus beckoned Peter and Andrew: “Follow Me.” This was the Scripture story Archbishop Siambi shared with me just before he told me that Pope Benedict XVI had selected me to be the new Bishop of Ogdensburg. These words that comprise my Episcopal Motto rang loud and clear in my heart as I heard the Gospel proclaimed in that ancient basilica that last Wednesday in November 2011.Given the fact that Andrew is my Confirmation name as well as the name of my grandfather, it was a moment in which I felt so humbled and proud to be your bishop, in the line of Peter, Andrew and Paul.
The schedule allowed for some beautiful sight-seeing in the city. I’m grateful to my fellow traveler and trusted collaborator in ministry, Monsignor John Murphy, for joining me on this pilgrimage. We didn’t resist invitations to partake of the pasta at some of Rome’s finest. After all, it is truly right and just that when one is in Rome, one should do as the Romans do!