Bishop Peter Jugis: Our diocese has tremendous enthusiasm for the faith
The ad limina visit which I recently completed is an ancient tradition in the Church, in which the diocesan bishop goes to Rome every five years or so to venerate the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and to meet with the Holy Father and the offices of the Roman Curia to report on the state of his diocese.
There is a spiritual component to the visit – to pray at the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul. In that sense, there is the idea of a pilgrimage associated with the ad limina visit. In every pilgrimage, one temporarily leaves behind the familiar places of his home and work, to journey to a holy place to spend some time in prayer. In the case of the ad limina visit, the bishop leaves his diocese and journeys to Rome and to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, to draw inspiration and courage from the faithful witness of these two pillars of the Church, each of whom shed his blood for Christ.
Besides the spiritual component to the visit, there is also a pastoral component – to meet with the Holy Father and his top advisors, the cardinals and archbishops in the Roman Curia. The visit gives the diocesan bishop an opportunity to learn firsthand from them about the pastoral challenges facing the universal Church. It also gives the Holy Father and the Roman Curia an opportunity to learn firsthand from the diocesan bishop about the pastoral issues that face him in his part of the Lord's vineyard. Thus, the ministry of the Holy Father to the universal Church is strengthened by this sharing of information from the diocesan bishop, and the ministry of the diocesan bishop is also strengthened by the sharing of information from the Holy Father and his advisors. This exchange of information among the pastors of the Church serves to strengthen the unity of the Church.
In his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul gives us an example of an early ad limina visit. After preaching the Gospel for several years following his conversion, St. Paul went to Jerusalem to confer with St. Peter for 15 days to learn more about Jesus (Gal 1:18). Then after 14 years, St. Paul again journeyed to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus to present to the leaders of the Jerusalem Church the Gospel that he was preaching to the Gentiles, to make sure that it was in accord with the truth (Gal 2: 1-2). From the time of the apostles, the pastors of the Church have known the value of maintaining the bond of communion among themselves, to preserve the catholicity and unity of the Church, which is Jesus' gift to the Church.
I was happy to write in my ad limina report that in the Diocese of Charlotte there is tremendous enthusiasm for the faith. The faithful of the diocese are eager to grow in their relationship with Christ, to increase their knowledge of the faith, and to put their faith into practice. The attitude of the faithful is very positive and upbeat, and there is a strong sense of mission throughout the diocese.
In addition to this enthusiasm for the faith, the Catholic Church locally is also experiencing amazing growth. Since my ordination as bishop in 2003, I have been privileged to dedicate or rededicate 17 new churches. In addition, eight parishes have built new parish activity centers. During this period, five new parishes have been canonically erected. Ministries have expanded as we seek to bring the truth of Christ and the love of Christ to more of our brothers and sisters.
The ad limina visit has been a tremendous blessing. The visit has served to strengthen the bonds of our ecclesial communion with the Chair of Peter, "which presides over the whole assembly of charity."
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