Byzantine Catholic Church in America: News of the East

Introduction to "The Presov Bishopric" by Bishop Mons. Jan Hirka

Introduction to the publication, " The Presov Bishopric", by Bishop Mons. Jan Hirka.  Translated and submitted by the Rev. Mr. Vincent Obsitnik, McLean, Virginia

Many people are asking we Greek Catholics, about our roots. This publication "The Presov Bishopric", attempts to answer this and other questions using not only written text but also illustrations and photographs.

This volume is being issued for the following occasions: the 180th anniversary of the establishment of the Presov bishopric; the 110th anniversary of the birth of the bishop-martyr, Paul Peter Gojdic; and the 30th anniversary of the restoration of a functioning Greek Catholic church.

The Presov bishopric was established in 1818 but we Greek Catholics know that our roots date back to the time of Cyril and Methodius. We proudly acknowledge that the brothers from Solun gave us an early example: their faithfulness to Rome. We feel we fully understand their lives and actions. During the "period of darkness", they have been an example for our bishops, priests and faithful with respect to their attitudes and actions. The "period of darkness", was a horrendous test and trial for our church. It is said that, in crisis situations, character and personality come to the forefront. It is a consolation that, during this difficult period, our bishops, Paul Peter Gojdic and Basil Hopko, and a large majority of priests and faithful did not permit themselves to be intimidated or enticed. They preserved their faith though paying the price of persecution and suffering.

During the Holy Father's visit July 2, 1995 to Presov, he stated the following to the Greek Catholics: "But the Lord deposed the powerful and raised the lowly." His itinerary took him first to the Presov cathedral and the remains of Father Bishop-Martyr Paul Peter Gojdic who gave his life both for the Church and his loyalty to the Holy Father. Through the words of the Holy Father, the principal initiation of the beatification process for this rare human being was started.

Our church has lived through a difficult period. However, we should not allow ourselves to search for those who have hurt us even though there may be feelings of being wronged. Our path is one of forgiveness and reconciliation. Our late bishop, Paul Peter Gojdic, serves as an example to us since he never reproached those who injured him. The Holy Father also served as an example when, in front of the Memorial to the executed Evangelicals in Presov, he prayed the "Our Father" with me and the bishop of the Evangelical church, Jan Midriakom. We Greek Catholics must also walk this same path.

May this book serve to refresh our memories and help us to realize where we belong. May it also be a help to all those who do not know our history. With it, they hopefully will develop an understanding of our church and the environment in which we live.

Mons. Jan Hirka, Bishop of Presov

Related Link:  Presov Greek Catholic Diocese-


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