U.S. Eastern Catholic bishops celebrate liturgy at tomb of St. Peter

U.S. Eastern Catholic bishops celebrate liturgy at tomb of St. Peter

Bishop Kurt R. Burnette of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, N.J., exchanges the kiss of peace with Bishop Mikael Mouradian of the Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg in Glendale, Calif., as bishops of the Eastern Catholic churches in the United States concelebrate a Divine Liturgy in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 18, 2020. The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses to Pope Francis and Vatican officials. (Credit: Paul Haring/CNS.)

Faith is not something people put on like a piece of cloth that is easy to change, but is more like skin, which "is inseparable from us," said Bishop Mikael A. Mouradian, leader of the Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg, which covers the United States and Canada.

ROME — Faith is not something people put on like a piece of cloth that is easy to change, but is more like skin, which “is inseparable from us,” said Bishop Mikael A. Mouradian, leader of the Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg, which covers the United States and Canada.

Looking for guidance or for a model, a person naturally looks to one who has the most experience and expertise; for Catholic bishops, the first model is St. Peter, prince of the apostles, said Mouradian in a homily Feb. 18 at the apostle’s tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Armenian Catholic bishop presided at the Divine Liturgy concelebrated with the other Eastern Catholic bishops of the United States as part of their visit “ad limina apostolorum,” literally to the tomb of the apostles.

Wearing their own rites’ mainly gold and white vestments, the Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Maronite, Melkite, Syriac, Syro-Malabar, Armenian and Romanian Catholic bishops were assisted at the liturgy by a small choir of Armenian seminarians and by an Armenian deacon who gave a running commentary of the Armenian-rite liturgy and indications to the concelebrants about which prayers to recite.

In his homily, Mouradian said bishops are called to guide their people to faith as the church sails amid “troubles, difficulties, hardships, challenges,” but they must remember “none of us — not me or any of us — is the captain of this boat. The captain is Jesus Christ.”

“Yes, sometimes as he was with the disciples on the sea (of Galilee), perhaps we feel that he is sleeping,” the bishop said. But as St. Paul said, “we don’t preach only Jesus Christ the crucified one, but we preach Jesus Christ the living one, the eternally living God.”

“As bishops we are called to fix our gaze on him,” the bishop said. “He is the one who called St. Peter, an ordinary fisherman, to become a fisher of men.”

“Each one of us has the same calling as St. Peter,” Mouradian said. “As bishops, archbishops, we are the successors of the apostles, and we know that all the apostles gave their lives to witness to the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“In front of the tomb of the prince of the apostles, St. Peter, let us renew our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “Let us tell him that we trust in him, the merciful Lord, because he will guide us, he will help us live our Christian faith regardless of the difficulties and hardships we have in our lives.”

The bishops, like the 14 groups of U.S. bishops that preceded them on their “ad limina” visits, recited the creed and paused in silence before St. Peter’s tomb.


Crux is dedicated to smart, wired and independent reporting on the Vatican and worldwide Catholic Church. That kind of reporting doesn’t come cheap, and we need your support. You can help Crux by giving a small amount monthly, or with a onetime gift. Please remember, Crux is a for-profit organization, so contributions are not tax-deductible.

Latest Stories