UNIONTOWN. PA (August 1) -- The 67th Annual Labor Day Pilgrimage in honor of
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, sponsored by the Sisters of the Order of St.
Basil the Great, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Province, will take place in
Uniontown, August 31 to September 3, and will feature special remembrances
of the late Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh Judson Procyk and
newly-beatified Ruthenian Bishop-martyr Theodore G. Romzha, whose path to
sainthood is rooted in Mt. St. Macrina and the Byzantine Catholic Church in
America. Mt. St. Macrina is located along Route 40 in Uniontown, just off
the Main Street exit of Route 119.
The theme of this year's Pilgrimage, "The Holy Eucharist: We Bless,
Thank, Worship, and Glorify God!" focuses on the place of the Holy
Eucharist in everyday lives as a sacrament of unity. "One of the most
striking aspects of the annual Pilgrimage is how it brings together people
from all over the Metropolitan Province, and even beyond," said Sr.
Ruth Plante, OSBM, Provincial for the Basilian community. "This is the
fulfillment of the very reason why Christ has given us His Body and Blood as
food and drink; that is, to bring all humanity together into one, even
though this unity is as yet incomplete."
The four-day event, filled with opportunities to participate in liturgical
prayer, devotions, and personal prayer, marks the first occasion for
Byzantine Catholics from across the country to come together to commemorate
Archbishop Procyk, who died unexpectedly on April 24, 2001, after only six
years as head of the nationwide province that includes the Archeparchy of
Pittsburgh and the Eparchies of Passaic, Parma and Van Nuys. A Panachida
memorial service in his memory will follow the 7:00 p.m. Hierarchical Divine
Liturgy at Mt. Macrina Cemetery on Saturday, September 1.
A native of Uniontown, Archbishop Procyk was a fervent advocate of the
annual spiritual retreat and took great joy in having attended every
Pilgrimage since its inception in 1934. Archbishop Procyk also was a strong
promoter of the Cause for Canonization of four hierarchs of the Ruthenian
Church, including Bishop Romzha, who advanced one step closer to sainthood
with his beatification in June by Pope John Paul II during the recent Papal
visit to Ukraine. It was in Uniontown that the formal Cause for Canonization
was announced 15 years ago.
On September 1, 1986, during the 52nd Annual Pilgrimage on the same
monastery grounds that host this year's event, the late Metropolitan
Archbishop Stephen J. Kociscko, in collaboration with all the bishops of the
Byzantine-Ruthenian Metropolia in the United States, inaugurated the formal
Cause for Canonization of Bishop Romzha and his brethren Bishops Paul
Gojdich, Basil Hopko, and Alexander Chira, who were persecuted, exiled,
imprisoned and martyred for their faith under the Communist regime of the
former Soviet Union.
Although these four holy prelates served within the boundaries of other
dioceses - the Eparchies of Mukachevo and Presov in then Soviet Ukraine and
Czechoslovakia, the petition to the Holy See on their behalf was initiated
within the ecclesiastical Curia of the Pittsburgh Byzantine Rite since their
local churches in Central and Eastern Europe remained a "Church in
Silence" under the yoke of atheistic regimes.
In the 1986 Proclamation and Appeal issued by the Archbishop and Bishops at
that time, the hierarchs noted that the Byzantine Catholic Church in America
had grown from the founding of its first parish in 1886 to a Metropolitan
Province. "In the lands of our forefathers, however," they wrote,
"our Byzantine Catholic Church has all but been destroyed. Our last
bishops [in Europe] were called upon to make heroic sacrifices for the faith
and the rite which we observe freely...We pray fervently that, as we
continue our spiritual growth here in the United States, our Church in
Europe may soon gain full religious freedom, allowing our clergy, religious
and faithful there to be one with us in worshipping Our Savior and Redeemer
in the time-honored tradition of the Byzantine-Rite."
Those prayers were answered in 1991 with the demise of the Soviet Union and
other Communist states and with the help of the Byzantine-Ruthenian
Metropolia in America to re-establish its Mother Church now in present-day
Ukraine and Slovakia. As religious freedom was regained in these areas, the
further advancement of these causes was transferred in 1996 to the
territories where the prelates lived and died in the faith. Bishop John
Semedi of the Eparchy of Mukachevo (Ukraine) assumed the process for Bishop
Romzha and Bishop Chira, while Bishop John Hirka of the Eparchy of Presov
(Slovakia) took up the cause of Bishop Gojdich and Bishop Hopko.
For the past 15 years, parishes throughout the Metropolia of Pittsburgh have
continued praying for the final fulfillment of the Cause for Canonization.
In the effort to keep the memories of these four holy bishops alive and
before the people as contemporary models for the Christian life, the
Pilgrimage will include special prayers in thanksgiving for the
beatification of Bishop Romzha and opportunities to learn more about his
Most Reverend Andrew Pataki, Bishop of Passaic and Administrator of the
Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Province, and Most Reverend Michael J.
Dudick, retired Bishop of Passaic, are among the originators of the Cause
for Canonization and will be among the principal celebrants of Divine
Liturgies scheduled throughout the four-day pilgrimage.
The Sisters of St. Basil invite all interested individuals and families to
participate in the 67th Annual Pilgrimage. A full schedule of devotions,
liturgies, Mystery of Reconciliation (confessions), processions, and
enrichment programs will include special sessions and activities for
children and teenage pilgrims. Special arrangements are available, including
transportation to the various areas on the Mount, to help elderly, sick, and
physically challenged pilgrims fully participate in all events. A complete
schedule is enclosed.
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For more information about any of the events, including preparation for the
four-day pilgrimage, please contact Veronica Varga, Director of Development
and Public Relations, at 724-438-8644.