ROME (CNS) — A bishop’s “ad limina” visit to Rome should be a time of reflection, renewal and inspiration to return home to preach the Gospel with joy, said Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski of Metuchen, N.J., preaching to his brother bishops from New Jersey and Pennsylvania Dec. 3 at Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

Bishop Bootkoski said, “If we have a sense of joy and convey that message, that will attract the people of our society because, by and large, today it seems to be a joyless society.”

The “ad limina” visits, which bishops make to report on the status of their dioceses, also include time for reflection and prayer.

Archbishop Charles Chaput and Auxiliary Bishops Daniel E. Thomas, Timothy C. Senior, John J. McIntyre and Michael J. Fitzgerald represented the Philadelphia Archdiocese in their Dec. 1 meeting with the Holy Father. (Click here to see photos.)

The pope also met two Philadelphia priests studying and working at the Vatican. Father Ronald W. Check is a graduate theology student in Rome, and Father Gregory J. Fairbanks serves as an official with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.


The bishops celebrated a late-afternoon Mass Dec. 5 at Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major with Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., presiding and preaching. The previous day, he was released from a Rome clinic, where he had spent several days for medical care.

Pope Benedict XVI poses Dec. 1 with bishops from Philadelphia during their "ad limina" visit to the Vatican. From left are: Auxiliary Bishop Timothy C. Senior, Auxiliary Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Pope Benedict, Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre, and Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

The 75-year-old bishop had been in the clinic Dec. 1 when the other bishops of Pennsylvania met the pope.

The bishops are using the new translation of the Roman Missal for their Masses in Rome, and Bishop Trautman said it went well at St. Mary Major, although it was something of an adjustment to pray at a chapel where the altar is placed against the wall, meaning his back was to his fellow bishops, concelebrating priests and the small congregation.

In his homily at the Marian basilica, Bishop Trautman spoke about Mary as a model of trust and hope in God.