Byzantine Catholic Church in America: News of the East

2001 Pilgrimage To Feature Special Remembrances of the Late +Metropolitan Judson Procyk and Newly-Beatified Ruthenian Bishop Theodore Romzha

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 saintly life.

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.


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