Bishop Jugis celebrates ad limina Mass at St. Peter's Basilica
VATICAN CITY — When Bishop Peter J. Jugis and the other 14 bishops from North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida stepped out into St. Peter's Basilica, walked past the baldacchino (canopy) over the tomb of St. Peter and processed through the main nave, they caught the attention of the thousands of visitors who were visiting the basilica on May 8.
But as they walked closer to their destination of the altar of Blessed John Paul II, where Bishop Jugis was to celebrate Mass, they had to turn left. Another priest had co-opted that altar for an unscheduled Mass.
The basilica's ushers directed the bishops to keep walking until they reached the Altar of John XXIII. It was a humorous moment for the group, one that "Good Pope John" would surely have appreciated. His preserved body lay beneath the altar, on display behind glass, and it was almost as if he might sit up and wave at the group of bishops who had unexpectedly gathered around him.
This sudden change drew a big smile from Bishop Jugis, who took it all in stride and embraced the challenge of redirecting some of his remarks at Mass and during his homily to suit the situation.
During his homily, Bishop Jugis reminded the bishops that they had come to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul during the Ad Limina visit, "to draw inspiration and courage from the faithful witness of these shepherds of the flock, each of whom in his own time shed his blood in witness to the Gospel." Read the full homily, see more photos and a video clip.
He then spoke of the Cross and the suffering that is experienced when standing up for the Gospel. He shared all of the hardship and resistance he and Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Raleigh have endured as a result of the marriage amendment battle in North Carolina.
"I shared with another bishop my sadness over this criticism of our support for something as beautiful and foundational to society as traditional marriage," he said. "We know the lines in the sand are drawn not only on this issue of the definition of marriage, but also on other issues such as religious liberty, and the culture of abortion, and that the bishop is called upon to be courageous in witnessing to the Gospel."
He then recalled the courageous witness to the truth in the ministry of St. Peter, St. Paul, and Blessed John Paul II.
"We recall the words from the Acts of the Apostles regarding the Apostles' courage in the face of opposition: "The apostles left the Sanhedrin full of joy that they had been judged worthy of ill-treatment for the sake of the Name. Day after day, both in the temple and at home, they never stopped preaching and proclaiming the good news of Jesus the Messiah (Acts 5: 41-42).
As shepherds of our respective dioceses, we ask for the grace to "never stop preaching and proclaiming the good news of Jesus the Messiah."
During his closing remarks, Bishop Jugis reminded the bishops, "During these days of our ad limina pilgrimage we have the opportunity for prayer and renewal. Every day during our ministry we already carry all the faithful of our diocese in our heart, but these days of our pilgrimage give us a special opportunity to pray for our diocese at the holy shrines of Rome. May we be renewed in our commitment to Christ and His Church, and to the proclamation of the Lord's Gospel."
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer