Beginning this November, for the first time in his Pontificate, His Holiness, Pope Francis, will have ad limina visits from the Bishops of the United States. Usually, bishops come as a group every five years to meet with the Holy Father. However, due to scheduling and other factors, ad limina visits (which means, from the Latin, “to the threshold”) had to be rescheduled. Other English-speaking nations, like the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the Australian Bishops’ Conference, had their meetings with the Holy Father.
The Bishops of the United States of America are broken up into various regions. New York State is named Region II, and the bishops – ordinary, auxiliary, and retired – will all go to Rome in early November. There, the bishop will enjoy the hospitality of the U.S. seminary in Rome, the Pontifical North American College (Fr. John Cush, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn serves as Academic Dean of the College), visit with various congregations at the Vatican, like the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and, most movingly, offer Holy Mass at the tombs of the Apostles Saint Peter (in the Vatican Basilica of San Pietro) and Saint Paul (in the Basilica of San Paolo Fuori le Mura). In the course of their visit to Rome, they will present, in various reports, the state of their dioceses.
No doubt, the highlight of the ad limina will be the personal meeting that the bishops have with the Holy Father, Pope Francis. In the past, the popes have prepared a conference for the bishops; from all reports, under Pope Francis, he speaks informally, without a script, to the bishops, offering a reflection on the faith, perhaps some advice and encouragement, as well as some direct suggestions.
Pray for our American bishops as they prepare for their ad limina. Pray that their hearts will be open and attentive to the movements of the Holy Spirit. And pray that the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and all of the apostles, whom the bishops are their successors, may powerfully intercede for all Catholics in the dioceses of the United States.