September 15, 2022
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On Monday, September 19, the Most Rev. David J. Bonnar, Bishop of Youngstown, will celebrate Holy Mass with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Following Mass, Bishop Bonnar and 179 new bishops from around the world will participate in a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican. The meeting with Pope Francis will conclude a week of formation for new bishops that began on September 12. This year’s Corso Annuale Di Formazione Per I Nuovi Vescovi (the Annual Course for the Formation of New Bishops) includes bishops ordained between 2019 and 2022, as the formation program was delayed for several years due to the pandemic. The program is being offered this year in several groupings, including 150 bishops who participated last week. Pope Francis appointed Bishop Bonnar the sixth Bishop of Youngstown on November 17, 2020, and he was ordained and installed as bishop on January 12, 2021, at Saint Columba Cathedral.
As he prepares to meet with Pope Francis, Bishop Bonnar comments, “I have spent much of my short Episcopate focusing on the Holy Father’s The Joy of the Gospel. I cannot even begin to put into words the joy in my heart, knowing that I will meet this holy man who is calling us to a renewed encounter with Jesus and a deeper realization of our journey together through the Synod on Synodality.” The Joy of the Gospel was Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation released in 2013, in the first year of his papacy, providing a vision for Church life and mission. In 2021, Pope Francis convened a global Synod, beginning first with a local phase of discussions and prayer in each diocese, including the diocese of Youngstown, and which will continue through the Synod of Bishops in Rome in 2023.
During the formation week, the new bishops have gathered at the International College of the Legionaries of Christ in Rome, near the Vatican, and have reflected on the theme, To Announce the Gospel in the Changing Epoch and After the Pandemic: The Service of Bishops. The formation week has included seminars led by Vatican officials and theologians, as well as time for fellowship among the new bishops. Reflecting on the experience from Rome, Bishop Bonnar comments, “In a real sense, we are experiencing a global view of the Church. Our first Mass together was very moving. We began Holy Mass singing a hymn to the Holy Spirit. I looked around at my brother bishops and I was struck by how the Holy Spirit had already come among us by virtue of the call we received from the Holy Father to be a successor to the Apostles. At the same time, I was reminded of just how much we need that Spirit every day in our lives as we aspire to be good shepherds for those whom we serve.”
From Rome, Bishop Bonnar wrote to the people of the Diocese of Youngstown, saying “I realize I am far from my diocese, but in this experience, I feel so close to you and the entire Church.” His full message and photos from Rome can be found here.