.- Bishop John R. Gaydos of Jefferson City, Mo. was at the Vatican this week visiting with Pope Benedict and reporting on the health of his diocese, but the trip also brought back memories of seeing John Paul II in 1997.
Bishop Gaydos said it is âreally hearteningâ for him to meeting with Benedict XVI.
âPeter is listening to us, wanting to make sure that we know that we are working with him and that he is praying and working with us.,â the bishop told CNA March 12 outside the Congregation for Divine Worship in Vatican City.
This visit drew U.S .bishops from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.
âWe spoke of vocations, of seminary work, of the new opportunity we have with the Hispanic people coming into our dioceses, Bishop Gaydos reported. âWe spoke about the importance of Catholic education, we spoke of the challenge of the present culture.â
Pope Benedict âconfirms us all in our mission,â he said
The bishop still finds it âamazingâ that Benedict XVI is the Pope. He visited then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on his two previous ad limina visits to talk about various pastoral matters and concerns.
âNow, to have him as chief shepherd of the Church, I look at him and realize that his whole life has been spent in scholarly work and in such clear teaching. The fact that we now have him as the Pope is such a great grace. Itâs amazing how the Holy Spirit continues to bring just the right person.â
Bishop Gaydos also reflected on his first ad limina visit. In 1997 he met with Pope John Paul II, just 10 minutes after he was ordained a bishop.
âIn those days you had lunch with him, you had Mass with him and you had a ten minute session.â
He and his predecessor, Bishop Michael F. McAuliffe, met with the pontiff. The new bishop showed John Paul II where Jefferson City was located and spoke about some of the initiatives he hoped to establish.
There was one particularly humorous exchange.
âI told him âHoly Father, I just realized there are only three people left in this world who tell me what to do: you, Bishop McAuliffe, and my mother. And all three of you were born in 1920.
âAnd he looked at me and he said âyou are very young,ââ he recalled.
Bishop Gaydos, as secretary to Cardinal John Carberry of St. Louis, had been in Rome for John Paul IIâs election in 1978 and stood directly below the balcony when the Polish pontiff was first announced to the world.
âThe night he was elected was just electrifying,â the bishop said. âHis whole demeanor, his whole witness, he poured himself out completely in service of the Gospel. The heart of the New Evangelization is to engage all of us who are baptized in that same kind of gospel generosity.â
Bishop Gaydos still has the pectoral cross Bl. John Paul II gave to all the bishops who made ad limina visits in 1997.
âIt is a very special thing for me right now.â
On the morning of March 12, the Missouri bishop presided at Mass at St. Peterâs Basilica in the Chapel of St. Sebastian, where the beatified Pope is interred under the altar.
He said the daily reading âperfectly reflected the power of Godâs grace in the New Evangelization that Bl. John Paul II was launching for us.â
In the reading, Jesus speaks to a Nazareth synagogue about the reception of the prophets in their own lands.
Bishop Gaydos said this is a challenge to realize that Godâs salvation âisnât something thatâs way off in the distance. Itâs something right here, right now.â
Tags: Ad Limina