Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Church - Universal and Local

(This is my first post.  I wrote it when I was in Rome with the Bishops of PNG/SI for our Ad Limina visit in June 2012.)

I write these words from Rome where the bishops of PNG/SI have begun our 'Ad Limina' visit.  The full name of the visit is "Ad Limina Apostolorum" which means "to the threshold of the apostles" - especially referring to the holy apostles Peter and Paul who, according to tradition, were martyred here in Rome and buried here.

On the first day of our visit we went to the Basilica of Saint Paul - where Saint Paul is buried.  Archbishop Steve was the main celebrant at the mass there.  Toward the end of our visit, we will go to Saint Peter's Basilica and Archbishop John Ribat will be the main celebrant at the tomb of Saint Peter.

Each day we go to visit Vatican offices that serve the Church in many ways: health care, laity and youth, justice and peace, communication, family life, etc.  We have been received very well.  I am happy to see that the church officials in Rome are very interested in the church in Papua New Guinea.

As we move around to our various meetings and as we visit the magnificent churches and holy places, I am reminded of the beauty of our Catholic Church which is both local and universal.  In the Diocese of Mendi, we are the local church.  It is at this local level that we strive to live the Gospel in our daily lives by following the teachings and example of Jesus.  We do this in our families, in our small communities and in our parishes. 
But we are not alone, we are part of a much greater family that reaches back to Jesus and the Apostles and that stretches to all continents of our world who share the same faith that we profess in PNG.  We are the church, both local and universal.

I want you to know that I carry you in my heart to all of the holy places that we visit.  I remember you and I pray for you and your intentions.  At the end of our visit, we may have the opportunity to visit His Holiness, Pope Benedict.  If we do, I will be happy to tell him that all the people that make up the local church in the Diocese of Mendi love him and thank him and pray for him in his ministry of shepherd of the church extended throughout the world.

Let us always strive to be of one heart and one mind with the Church – universal and local.  Stap wanbel wantaim sios.

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