'Time of great spiritual renewal'
Aux. Bishop William Waltersheid on his recent trip to Rome
Each year in Rome the Congregation for Bishops hosts a Convocation for New Bishops, ("Convegno per i Nuovi Vescovi").
The purpose of this gathering is to provide an opportunity for newly ordained and nominated bishops to receive valuable information from various dicasteries of the Roman Curia that will be helpful for their new ministry as Successors of the Apostles.
I attended this year's convocation, held from Sept. 7-17 at the Atheneum Regina Apostolorum, a university and house of studies run by the Legionaries of Christ.
Marc Cardinal Ouellet, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, was present throughout the convocation and served as the moderator.
A total of 120 bishops from 33 countries participated, including 15 from the United States. The largest group numbered 26 from Brazil.
A number of Eastern Rite bishops were also present, including a Ukrainian Catholic from Lvov and a Ruthenian Catholic from Hungary, and two Catholic bishops from Iraq shared their stories of persecution and hardship in their native land.
Also attending from Pennsylvania was Bishop Mark Bartchak, the new bishop of Altoona-Johnstown.
Each morning the bishops concelebrated Holy Mass and prayed Morning Prayer from the Divine Office.
Because we were from so many different countries the language of the liturgy was Latin, with the readings in languages representative of the bishops.
We attended three daily conferences given in different languages and we used headphones for simultaneous translation of the talks.
The information was both rich in doctrinal content and very practical for the care of people in each bishop's diocese.
Some of the dicasteries that provided talks included the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Clergy, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and many others.
The bishops concelebrated Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and visited to pray at St. Peter's tomb as well as the tomb of blessed John Paul II.
We also celebrated Mass in the Church of San Carlo al Corso, dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo and venerated his heart, which is kept there in a reliquary behind the high altar.
This year is the 400th anniversary of St. Charles Borromeo, a great reformer bishop of the Catholic Counter-Reformation and cardinal of Milan.
The highlight of the trip was an audience with Pope Benedict XVI at Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father's summer residence, on Sept. 15.
At that audience I assured the Holy Father of the love and prayers of the faithful of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. ¬†
I also spent a few days at the Pontifical North American College, the American seminary in Rome which this year welcomed a record incoming class of 76 seminarians.
The largest single group from an American diocese is that of Pittsburgh, numbering 12.
I spent time with the Pittsburgh seminarians and celebrated Mass for them in St. Peter's Basilica, joined by the seminarians from the Diocese of Harrisburg, my home diocese, where I formerly served as a priest.
The experience was very formative and a time of great spiritual renewal.
But as wonderful an experience as it was, I am most grateful to God to come back to Pittsburgh, my new home and all the people here whom I have grown to love so much.