Bishop Hying returns from whirlwind ‘ad limina’ week in Rome, meets pope Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019 -- 12:00 AM
bishop hying with pope francis
Pope Francis greets Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison during a meeting with U.S. bishops from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican December 12. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

MADISON -- Bishop Donald J. Hying has returned from what he described as a “whirlwind” week in Rome for his “ad limina” visit.

He and 27 other bishops in Region VII of the United States -- Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin -- spent a busy week visiting Vatican offices, celebrating Masses, and meeting with Pope Francis.

Bishop Hying said of the visit, “It really connects us to the universal Church: the layers of history and the different cultures. It was great.”

Accompanying Bishop Hying was Diocese of Madison Vicar General Msgr. James Bartylla, who served as diocesan administrator after the death of Bishop Robert C. Morlino in November of 2018.

Prayed at basilicas

The official name for the visit is “ad limina apostolorum,” which means to the threshold of the apostles. The bishops literally visited the tombs of some of the apostles. They celebrated Mass at the four major basilicas in Rome: St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. Mary Major, and St. John Lateran.

“A major goal for the bishops was to pray for our dioceses, our priests, and all of our people,” said Bishop Hying.

Bishop Hying was especially pleased to concelebrate the Mass in Spanish with Pope Francis on December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Like any Catholic who makes a pilgrimage to the four basilicas, the bishops can receive a plenary indulgence if they recite the Creed, pray for the intentions of the pope, go to Confession, and receive the Eucharist.

Meeting with pope

A highlight of the visit was an audience with Pope Francis.The audience with Pope Francis lasted almost two and a half hours. All the bishops of Region VII -- including the heads of dioceses, auxiliary bishops, and retired bishops -- took part in the meeting with the Holy Father.

“It was remarkable,” said Bishop Hying. “It was very informal. Everyone was put at ease. We had an open discussion of many issues and could ask questions.”

Although Bishop Hying said the meeting was private, a Catholic News Service article reported that some of the topics discussed included building up unity of the Church in a polarized world, strategies for evangelization, and the need to accompany young people in their faith journey.

Highlights of the visit

Bishop Hying said a highlight of the visit to Rome for him was “spending time with our seminarians and getting to know them better. They are such fine men.”

The bishop said he was impressed by the quality of the five seminarians from the Diocese of Madison studying at the North American College in Rome. They include Deacon Tim Mergen, Fourth Theology; Matt Pearson, Second Theology; Luke Powers, Third Theology; Michael Wanta, Third Theology; and Deacon Enan Zelinski, Fourth Theology.

Seminarian Pearson produced video messages from Bishop Hying during his stay in Rome, which were shared on diocesan websites.

Bishop Hying also spent some time with Fr. Tait Schroeder, a priest of the Diocese of Madison who is working in the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The bishop said the congregation appreciates the priest’s work.

Cardinal James Harvey, who is the Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and a native of Milwaukee, hosted a dinner for the bishops. There was also a reception at Villa Stritch where U.S. priests live who work at the Vatican.

Callista Gingrich, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, also hosted a reception for the bishops at the Ambassador’s Residence.


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