Secretaries general stop in diocese while touring south

CHARLESTON – Secretaries general from eight countries visited the see city of the Diocese of Charleston last weekend for a working session of sharing and coordinating. They took the opportunity while here to “celebrate the universality of the Church.”

Each country has an episcopal conference, according to Msgr. Dennis Schnurr, secretary general of the United States version, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the secretaries general are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the conferences.

The secretaries general in Charleston on May 16-18 were: Msgr. Schnurr, Msgr. William Fay, assistant secretary for the NCCB; Father Michael McKenna, Australia; Father P. Roland-B. Trauffer, Switzerland; Father Emilius Goulet, French-speaking Canada; Father Douglas Crosby, English-speaking Canada; Father Hans Langendorfer, Germany; Msgr. Bernard Lagoutte, France; Msgr. Arthur Roche, England; and Bishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis, Brazil.

These 10 have been getting together for more than 25 years, Father Trauffer said, and rotate through host countries. They hope to visit with typical Catholics and avoid the major archdioceses. This year, it was the United States’ turn and the secretaries requested a southern experience.

“Since I know Bishop (David B.) Thompson well, we decided to come here. There is no more charming southern city than Charleston,” Msgr. Schnurr said.

During Friday noon Mass in the lower church of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, all 10 secretaries general concelebrated the liturgy. Bishop Assis said a prayer of intercession in Portuguese and Msgr. Lagoutte said one in French. Msgr. Schnurr thanked the worshippers for their hospitality.

“I take great joy in inviting them to see faith communities in this country that typify the young and vibrant Church in America,” he said. “We can learn so much from each other. This is an opportunity to celebrate the universality of the church.”

The secretaries general also celebrated Sunday liturgy at the cathedral. After each service they met to chat with local communicants.

Following their working sessions, they dined as guests of Bishop Thompson at the historic episcopal residence on Broad Street and toured the Lowcountry.