Byzantine Catholic Church in America: News of the East


 
Funeral Sermon For Metropolitan Archbishop Judson M. Procyk

 

by Bishop Andrew Pataki, Bishop of Passaic
April 30, 2001
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Your Eminence, Cardinal Bevilaqua, my brothers in the episcopate, my altar brothers, members of the Christian Associates, bereaved sister Ida and family of Archbishop Procyk and my dear friends in Christ:

Christos voskrese! Christ is Risen!

On Tuesday, April 24, we received a call that our brother in the episcopate Archbishop Judson Procyk fell asleep in the Lord. The Catholic bishops of the United States expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the Metropolitan Church sui iuris of Pittsburgh. With grief and sadness, we the Council of Hierarchs, devoted clergy and religious, lost an important leader of our Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh.

We are consoled with the touching words of our Savior, spoken to Martha, the sister of Lazarus, in the Gospel of St. John: "Your brother will rise again." To strengthen those words, our Lord said, "I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life. And whoever is alive and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, He who is to come into the world."

On February 7, 1995, I was privileged to serve as one of the co-consecrators for the consecration of the priest Judson M. Procyk as the Archbishop of Pittsburgh and Metropolitan of the Byzantine-Ruthenian Church in the United States. The consecrator and co-consecrators, with right hands placed on the head of Archbishop Judson, chanted this prayer:

O Master, our Lord and God, You established through Your illustrious Apostle Paul, an order of ranks and grades for the service of Your holy altar and for the ministry of Your precious and most pure Mysteries - first Apostles, then Prophets, and finally Teachers - now, O Master of all, as You strengthened Your holy Apostles and Prophets; as You anointed Kings; as You consecrated pontiffs; by the descent, power, and grace of Your Holy Spirit, strengthen this man whom You have chosen and made worthy to come under the yoke of the Gospel and to the episcopal dignity by the imposition of hands by the concelebrating bishops here present. Show his episcopacy to be stainless and, adorning him with every virtue, show him to be holy so that he may be worthy to ask those things which are for the salvation of Your people and to be heard by you.

In the litany I, as the co-consecrator, prayed "for the servant of God Judson Michael, ordained archbishop, that our God in His love for mankind may grant that he fulfill his archiepiscopal office without stain, without blame."

After the litany, the consecrator, keeping his hands on the head of the new archbishop, prayed:

O Lord, our God, because of the inability of human nature to comprehend the Divine Being, You in Your plan of salvation, appointed for us teachers, subject to the same infirmities as ourselves, to stand before Your altar and to offer sacrifices and oblations for all Your people. Make this man, O Lord, who has been declared a steward of episcopal grace, a follower of You, the true Shepherd Who gave His life for His sheep. Make him a leader to the blind, a light to those in darkness, an instructor to the ignorant, a teacher to the young, a light to the world, so that having directed the souls entrusted to him in this life, he may stand unashamed before Your judgment and receive the great reward which You have prepared for those who contend valiantly in the preaching of Your Holy Gospel. For it belongs to you, O Christ our God, to have mercy on us and to save us.

In the litany following the chanting of the Gospel, the co-consecrator prays:

O Lord, in Your love for mankind, look down with merciful eyes upon Your servant, Archbishop Judson. With faith he prostrates before Your loving kindness, humbly beseeching You to bless his good intentions. Grant that he may successfully begin his archiepiscopal ministry and zealously devote himself to work for Your greater honor and glory. Help him in every way so that he may diligently serve You and Your people to the best of his ability.

He tried to do that so devoutly and faithfully during his archiepiscopal office.

In the enthronement ceremony, the Pro-Nuncio asked this question: "Are you, Most Reverend Archbishop Judson, now prepared to accept the pastoral and juridical responsibilities of shepherding the Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh?"

The archbishop said, "With the grace of God, I am prepared to do so."

And certainly prepared he was and, with the grace of God, he fulfilled that particular directive.

The Pro-Nuncio prayed for the new Metropolitan and said,
O Lord Jesus Christ, our God, because of Your ineffable goodness, You sent down Your Holy Spirit, the Comforter, from the Father upon Your holy disciples and apostles, and through them You have established and strengthened Your Church throughout the world. We beseech You, O ever-gracious Lord, to look down from heaven upon Your servant, Archbishop Judson, who is being installed as the high priest of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. Grant him the spirit of wisdom and knowledge. Instill in his heart the spirit of the fear of God, the spirit of prudence, and zeal for the glory of Your name so that he may fulfill the work of serving in Your holy Church.

This he did so well in the six years that he served in that capacity.

And then the Pro-Nuncio, in installing the new metropolitan archbishop, said:

By the authority granted to me and according to the instructions of Holy Apostolic See of Rome, I install you as the Archbishop of Pittsburgh and the Metropolitan of the Byzantine-Ruthenian Metropolia in the United States, and I confer upon you legitimate authority in spiritual and temporal matters. I entrust you with the care of the flock of Christ which you are to shepherd according to the example of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Who even laid down His life for His sheep, so that on the day of judgment you may give a worthy account to Christ our God for your stewardship of this portion of His vineyard.

On April 24, 2001, he stood before Christ, the eternal High Priest, and now was able to receive that special loving grace from Christ the eternal High Priest, because he served well. He fulfilled the directives given to him and the Church is better because he was here to serve all of us in the name of Christ.

I would like to share a few reflections of Pope John Paul II On the Life and Ministry of Bishops which was certainly reflected in the archiepiscopal ministry that was provided by Archbishop Judson from February 7, 1995 to April 24, 2001.

It is for every bishop, in his own humanity, to be a living sign of Jesus Christ. We who were invested with the mission of the Good Shepherd have to make Him visible to our people. We must respond in a specific way to the cries that come from every corner of the world. We wish to see Jesus and the world wants to see Him in us.

The bishop is a sign of the love of Jesus Christ. He expresses to all individuals and groups of whatever tendency to the universal charity, the love of the Good Shepherd. His love embraces sinners with an easiness and naturalness that mirrors the redeeming love of the Savior. To those in need, in trouble, and in pain, He offers the love of understanding and consolation. In a special way the bishop is a sign of Christ's love for His priests and manifests to them the love of Christ's friendship.

In a word, the bishop, as a sign of compassion, is at the same time a sign of fidelity to the doctrine of the Church. The bishop stands with his brother bishops and the Roman pontiff as a teacher of the Catholic faith, whose purity and integrity is guaranteed by the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church. It is important for the bishop himself to be the sign of the unity of the universal Church. Never is the unity of the local church stronger and more secure, never is the ministry of the local bishop more effective than when the local church, under the pastoral leadership of local bishop, proclaims in word and deed the universal faith when it is open in charity to all of the needs of the universal Church.

These reflections, partial though they be, speak to us of the reality of the episcopate of our Lord Jesus Christ in which we all share. I offer them to you as expressions of our common strivings and, perhaps to some extent, to our common failings. As your bishop in the See of Peter, humble and repentant, I offer them as a challenge of grace, in a moment of grace, a moment of collegiality and a moment of fraternal love. I offer them to your apostolic responsibility and to your pastoral accountability to Jesus Christ the Chief Shepherd. I offer them as a manifestation of deep gratitude for what you are and intend, with God's grace, ever more to become. In Christ, a sign of hope for the people of God, as strong and unbreakable as the sign of the cross, becoming a living sign of the Risen Christ. For it is the Risen Jesus, the Incarnate Word, Who communicates through His humanity and ours the mystery of salvation in His name.

There is no deeper meaning in our lives as bishops than to be living signs of Jesus Christ. May Mary the Mother of Jesus help us to realize fully this vocation.

It is our prayer that God grant Archbishop Judson a crown of righteousness and a portion of the glory reserved for the chosen ones. May he be richly rewarded in the mansions of our Lord and His saints for the work he performed in this world, in this Archdiocese of Pittsburgh, in this Metropolitan Church sui juris of Pittsburgh, for the sake of the name of God. May our Lord grant rest to Archbishop Judson and our former co-worker who departed in the hope of a resurrection and eternal life and as in our earthly church God has made him His laborer so may He make him the same in the Heavenly sanctuary. And since God has favored him among men with a spiritual dignity so may He admit him uncondemned to the glory of the angels. On earth God has glorified his life and so may He grant his departure from life to be in the manner of the saints and the just ones and include him among all those who have ever pleased Him.

Our Lord has made His servant Archbishop Judson a servant of His holy Church and a minister of His holy altar. May he serve it in His Heavenly Temple and as he receives spiritual honors from the people so may he receive the glory of bounties from the angels. God blessed him during his life; now may He grant him righteousness in his departure.
May I leave for you, and I'm sure it would be the words of our dear friend Archbishop Judson, which was the testament at death of Blessed Pope John XXIII:

Love one another my dear children. Seek rather what unites, not what may separate you from one another. As I take leave or better still as I say, "till we meet again" let me remind you of the most important things in life: our Blessed Savior Jesus Christ, His Good News, His holy Church, His truth, and His kindness. I shall remember and pray for you. And I ask you to remember me in your prayers.

Prior to the completion of our funeral liturgy, the celebrant says this prayer and pours oil on the head of our deceased brother Metropolitan Archbishop Judson:

May our Lord and God Jesus Christ, who strengthened you in the good fight of Christian life, now graciously receive these prayers; and with the oil of His mercy may He forgive you all transgressions committed because of human frailty and make you worthy to receive the promised reward with all the saints who sing His praises saying: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Christos voskrese! Christ is Risen!

 

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