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Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
July 11, 1998     Arkansas Catholic
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July 11, 1998

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Page ! 2 )UlY "111 1998 ARKANSAS i!i!ili~+~/i[i~! By Bishop Andrew J. McDonald The bishops of the United States hold two general meetings each year. The No- vember meeting is always held in Washing- ton, D.C., where we have otlr national head- quarters. The spring meeting rotates around the country, favoring bishops in different parts of our enormous land. This year, the spring meeting of bishops took place in the Diocese of Pittsburgh from Thursday, June 18 until Saturday, June 20. + The Diocese of Pittsburgh is a second home to me. Each summer for almost 25 i years, the bishop of Pittsburgh invites me to make mission appeals in one, two or three parishes in behalf of the rural missions of Arkansas. For more than 15 years, the bishop of Pittsburgh invites me to come to his dio- cese in February and assist him with confir- mations. The hospitality, the warmth, the deep abiding faith of the people of Pitts- burgh was shown to me again this June. Instead of staying at the local hotel, I re- sided at St. Mary of Mercy, the downtown church in Pittsburgh. Father Jack O I'oole, the pastor and the priests associated with him, once again made me feel very much at home. I offered daily Mass in St. Mary's and went over to the hotel for the meetings. In the evening, Father O'Toole hosted sup- pers for me and a few other bishops in the local restaurants. On Friday evening, Bishop Wuerl invited the bishops to a boat ride on the rivers which come together at Pittsburgh, :'+i the Monongahela and the Allegheny form the Ohio River. The football and baseball ! stadium is called Three Rivers Stadium. Saturday, June 20 In the afternoon, Bishop Carmody of Tyler, Texas, Bishop Rodriguez of Lubbock, Texas, and I flew TWA from Pittsburgh to New York. In the evening, we boarded TWA Flight #840 for Rome. I sat next to Profes- sor Diane Jensen, who would spend two months in Rome on a Fulbright Scholar- ship. Professor Jensen teaches German, Latin and sometimes Greek in a Catholic high school in the Archdiocese of Minneapolis- St. Paul. The high school is called Benilde- St. Margaret. + Sunday, June 21 Around 10 a.m., the "big bird" descended out of the skies and gendy landed at the Rome airport. There is no way to get a restful sleep on these overnight flights. We joined the other bishops from Oklahoma and Texas at the Hotel St. Mattha, only a hundred yards from St. Peter's Basilica. Immediately, we went to the chapel in St. Martha and offered our Sun- day Mass, giving thanks to God for a safe journey and offering prayer to the Lord in behalf of priests, deacons, religious and people of the state of Arkansas. We ate lunch. We rested. We parridpated in an organizational L meeting concerning our ad limina visit m the Eternal City. In the hte afternoon, I walked m St. Peter in order m pray at the Pieta of the Blessed Mother holding the dead body of her Son, Jesus. An exquisite creation of Michdangdo. Then, I visited the famous statue of St. Peter within the Basilica, prayed at the Tomb of Peter and before the beautiful atuc of my patron, St. Andrew. In the evening, e ty, I retired to my room for At the conclusion of their private meeting, Pope John Paul II gives Bishop McDonald some blessed rosaries and prayer cards to take back with him to Little Rock. Monday, June 22 Early in the morning, the bishops enjoyed a continental breakfast. Then, we went to St. Peter Basilica to make our official visit to the Tomb of St. Peter. We wore red vestments. The altar of the Tomb of St. Peter was avail- able to us. Archbishop Eusebius Bdtran, arch- bishop of Oklahoma City, presided at the Mass and preached the homily (see text of homily on page 11). He indicated that our visit to Rome puts our life and our ministry in the proper perspective, the deep and abiding" rela- tionship between the local dioceses and the Church Universal. It occurred to me that I have lived during the lifetime of six popes, Pins XI, Pins XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II. I likewise remembered that this is my sixth ad limina visit to Rome. Since these visits oc- cur only every five years, this would be my last official visit to the Eternal City. At 12:30 p.m. on Monday, by invitation of the Holy Father, I went to what is called the "the bronze doors." The Swiss Guards welcome visitors who are to meet with the Holy Father. There are 111 steps up to the pope's apartment. In addition to the steps, there is an elevator ride of three floors. Then, a bishop waits outside of the Holy Father's office until a secretary wel- comes him into the pope's study. Our Holy Father, John Paul II, had the map of the United States on his desk. Together, we found the state of Arkansas, the Diocese of Little Rock. He asked about our people and the spirit of ecumenism within the State of Arkansas. He pledged prayers for our priests, deacons, reli- gious and people. Particularly, he singled out the older people, the sick, the young people and the children. He punched a button and in came the photographer. The pope gave me a large envdope containing blessed rosaries and holy pictures. Several pictures were taken and we bade each other farewell. During the afternoon, Bishop Edmond Carmody of Tyler, Texas, and I visited the ancient Basilica of St. Mary Major. We then went to the religious goods store of the Pauline Sisters where we made several purchases. We stopped at Ldli Garey to greet these good people who prepare papal blessings for our faith- rid. This dderly couple suffered the loss of their only child, a daughter some 35 years. Unex- pectedly, she died in surgery. They still grieve her loss. We then stopped at the Monastery Store whida stocks w iom items from the mow asteries throughout Italy. Tuesday, June 23 The bishops assembled in the chapel at St. Martha and offered Mass. Some of the bishops visited various departments of the Vatican. I went by taxi to the Casa, the old North Ameri- can College. Student priests who are getting degrees in the Roman universities live at the Casa. Signiflcandy, this house is located on "Humility Street." I spent some time with Msgr. Charles Elmer, a priest of the Diocese of Austin, Texas. He is in charge of the "House." I stayed long enough to be invited for lunch with some of the priests who are just finishing their examinations. In the afternoon, I returned to St. Martha. In the evening, I enjoyed sup- per at a local restaurant with Bishop Michael Pfeifer, the bishop of San Angelo. 41' Wednesday, June 24 We bishops offered Mass in the Chapel of St. Martha, celebrating the feast of the birth- day of St. John the Baptist. We visited the Congregation for Bishops. This is the commit- tee who receives recommendations of candi- dates for the episcopacy. The cardinal in charge of this committee presents names of candidates from all over the world to the Holy Father for his approval. To grasp the scope of this con- gregation, remember that there are 187 dio- ceses in the United States. This congregation provides bishops for 1,576 diocese throughout the world. Cardinal Gamin, a native of Africa, is in charge of this congregation. Another 1,200 dioceses receive their bishops through the Propagation of the Faith. These dioceses are missionary in character and usually are part of the Third World. Following our visit, Arch- bishop Flores of San Antonio and I walked through the gardens behind St. Peter. In the ening, along with some other bishops, I was invited to the residence of Cardinal Edmund Szoka. Cardinal Szoka is an American, a native of Michigan. He served as the archbishop of Detroit. Then, he has worked in the finance office for the Vatican and is now the Governor of the City State called the Vatican. i' (!~ i ii iii!ii Father's mind is alert and clear. He d#] experience some of the infirmities of his it Became he is only a few years older than ql am, I pan understand his difficulties On thell occasion of the luncheon, he presented hetl one of us with a pectoral cross, bearing th tl image of Jesus upon it. . [ At 4 p.m., we bishops went to the Basih il of St. Paul outside the walls In this churd'il are buried the remains of the great lizer, the 13th Apostle, Paul of Tarsus. cause this would be my last official visit because I am a golden jubilarian, my bishops invited me to the Mass preach the homily. beyond human expectation. The cided with a pilgrimage from Texas, some 92 people under the of Bishop Pefia. They smiled arid when I told them that I was I was the best looking bishop serving in states of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. text of homily on page 11) Friday, June 26 We offered Mass in the Chapel at Martha. We visited the Education and the Congregation grants and Itinerants. At lunch time, I enjoyed the Father Remi Hoeckmann, OP. from Bdgium. He studied English United States many years ago. On casion, we became friends. He now in the office of Christian Unity, attention upon the relationship Christians and Jews. Saturday, June 27 We bishops went to "the bronze next to St. Peter. We ascended 111 and then took the elevator to the of the Holy Father. At 7:30 a.m., us to concelebrate the Mass with him private chapel. It was a very in our lives. -" reS t Following the Mass, Archbishop H0 a!t of San AntOnio, representing us rrtadebis!I speech, thanking the Holy Father fr,.i it service to the Universal Church, than~'~!l him for all that he has done for the .Ch~i ! in the United States and wishing hlm,.,~t :i as he moves towards the Year of the ~L~- [ Jubilee, the Millennium, the year 20 'tbe' I CIunncti efTSmli lg,che shn PcaStiVlS euI i In the evening, the bishops of our .P +o l ince, Archbishop Beltran, retired ArchblSe [ [ Salarka, Bishop Slartery of Tulsa and I I joyed supper together, t Sunday, June ,J I 41' Early in the morning, Bishop r . .eba I Carmody and I offered Mass in St. ! Chapel. We then went out to the F,0 aiit airpo'rt and boarded TWA flight #84+J0 5iI 10:55 a.m. We arrived in New York at *'t, !1 p.m. At 5:20 'p.m., we flew TWA .t0fl it Louis, arriving at 7:13 p m Then, TWA #207 at 8 p.m., arriving home, Rock at 9:23 p.m. l#e i Be it ever so humble, there is no P [ J like home. Thursday, June 25 In each of my Masses and in all In the morning, we bishops visited the prayers, I lifted all of you, priests, Congregation (the Committee) for the Clergy religious, people up to the Lord. and discussed the welfare of our priests. At diocese always be united with the 1:30 p.m. half of us were invited to the dining universal, the See of Rome, the room of our Holy Father for lunch. The other Peter, His Holiness, John Paul II. I ara half will have lunch with him on Friday. The sonally gratefifl to all of you for the meal was delicious. The opportunity to dine which you have offered for me with the pope is indeed unique. The Holy last ad