Bishop Olson embarks on first “ad limina” visit

by Susan Moses

North Texas Catholic

January 15, 2020

Pope Francis with Bishop Olson Jan 20, 2020Pope Francis with Bishop Olson Jan 20 2020
Bishop Michael Olson shakes hands with the Holy Father on January 20, 2020 before presenting him with the pectoral cross from V Encuentro on behalf of the Diocese of Fort Worth, its clergy, religious, and all of the faithful. (photo courtesy L'Osservatore Romano)

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new photographs and captions.

FORT WORTH — Bishop Michael Olson will travel to Rome for his first “ad limina apostolorum” visit, which begins January 20 and includes his 17 brother bishops from Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

Meaning “on the threshold of the Apostles,” the ad limina visit will incorporate a pilgrimage to the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul, as well as Masses at the Rome basilicas of St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran, and St. Mary Major.

Bishop Olson said offering Mass at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul is the most important aspect of the visit. “It’s an opportunity for the bishop, on behalf of the people, priests, and religious of his diocese, to pray with them and for them at the tomb of the Apostles Peter and Paul, to foster a true sense of Catholic communion with all of the dioceses throughout the world in communion with the Vicar of Christ.”

The prelate continued, “Closely tied to that as well is a meeting with Pope Francis and the other bishops of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, to listen to him and to offer him our understanding of the current state of our respective dioceses.”

Unlike previous popes, Pope Francis hosts an open and unstructured conversation with the groups of bishops. His meetings with previous U.S. bishops have lasted approximately two hours.

Also during the five-day ad limina visit, the bishops will individually visit about ten dicasteries, or departments of the Roman Curia, which administer particular aspects of the Church, such as clergy, family life, or Catholic education.

Bishops from Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas meet with Pope Francis
Bishops from Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma met with Pope Francis as part of their ad limina apostolorum visit. Their discussion lasted 2 and 1/2 hours. (photo courtesy L'Osservatore Romano)

The ad limina visit was preceded by the submission last summer of the quinquennial report, a periodic “state-of-the-diocese” document that details, in 23 sections, the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Fort Worth.

Bishop Olson said especially noteworthy items of the comprehensive report include “our growth as a diocese in numbers; the relative youth of age; the growing number of people with cultural diversity; the great need for new places of worship, new schools; and the renewal of priestly vocations.”

For example, the report demonstrates an increase in self-identified Catholics from 710,000 in 2010 to 1,010,000 in 2018. And as a measure of the diocese’s diversity, the report enumerates the seven different languages in which Mass is celebrated every Sunday in the diocese.

Every bishop in the world is required to make an ad limina visit regularly. U.S. bishops are divided into 14 regions, the first of which visited in early November 2019, and the last of which will finish in February. The previous round of ad limina visits for U.S. bishops was eight years ago.

Currently, there are 3,017 dioceses, prelatures, and vicariates across the world, according to the Vatican.

The “Directory for the Ad Limina Visit” compares current ad limina visits to the meeting of Paul with Peter, which helped both apostles in their respective ministries. The direct contact between the bishops and the pope promotes and guards the unity of faith, while giving the Bishop of Rome “authoritative information on the actual situation of the various Churches.”

While Bishop Olson is at the Vatican, he plans to post regular updates during his pilgrimage on Twitter for those who follow him. He asked the people of the diocese “to pray especially for me as your bishop, because I will be praying for all of you.”

Pope Francis leads a meeting with U.S. bishops from North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican Jan. 13, 2020. The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses to the pope and Vatican officials. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

FORT WORTH — Bishop Michael Olson will travel to Rome for his first “ad limina apostolorum” visit, which begins January 20 and includes his 17 brother bishops from Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

Published (until 1/15/2035)