St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church, Weirton, W. Va. was blessed to witness a historic visit at the conclusion of the weekend of festivities celebrating the Enthronment of Bishop Milan Lach as the fifth Byzantine Catholic Bishop of Parma, Ohio. On July 2, all three bishops named Milan who participated in the jubilation of the weekend took time before they parted ways to take some photographs together inside and outside the Weirton parish of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.
Bishop Milan Šašik CM, Bishop of Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo (Ukraine); Bishop Milan Chautur, CSsR, Bishop of Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Košice (Slovakia); and Bishop Milan Lach, SJ, Bishop of Byzantine Catholic
Eparchy of Parma; along with St. Mary’s pastor Father Vasyl Symyon and translator Father Juraj Terek stood together in the midday Ohio Valley sun.
Not only are all three bishops named Milan, but all three bishops had an important message for our American church throughout the weekend. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy of the Enthronement on June 30, each of the three bishops had a message for the faithful. Bishop Chautur spoke in the name of the conference of bishops of Slovakia in addressing Bishop Lach with congratulations. Bishop Chautur went on to discuss service under the protection of the Theotokos, and how our church needs courageous bishops who will not be swayed by difficult circumstances.
Bishop Chautur was also the bishop who ordained Bishop Lach in 2000 to the diaconate and then in 2001 to the priesthood. Bishop Šašik followed up with some lighthearted remarks about the circumstances of there being three bishops named Milan. He continued by speaking on behalf of the Eparchy of Mukachevo and presenting Bishop Lach with an icon of Blessed Bishop-Martyr Theodore Romzha as the model of a bishop — the hieromartyr willing to lay down his life for his flock.
Bishop Lach continued this message by his resolution before our faithful that he would serve the clergy, monastics, and the faithful in the image of Jesus Christ, asking for our prayers in order to do so. Father Terek served as translator for Bishop Chautur and Bishop Šašik. On July 1, while Bishop Chautur and Bishop Lach remained in Parma, Bishop Šašik traveled to Weirton to deliver a further message of hope to our American church.
Bishop Milan emphasized God’s Providence through the martyrdom of Blessed Theodore Romzha. He was not going to have time on his episcopal schedule to visit the United States this year, but the Enthronement gave him this opportunity. The Enthronement weekend was a weekend of hope, but one day prior, on June 28, the Eparchy of Mukachevo celebrated the 15th Anniversary of the Translation of the Relics of Blessed Theodore Romzha with 14 hierarchs, 230 clergy, and 3,000 faithful together in hope.
It is in this hope that Blessed Theodore died and in this hope that the Eparchy of Mukachevo has sent 23 priests to the United States. It is in this hope that Bishop Milan welcomed about 60,000 people to Holy Cross Cathedral in March 2018 to pray before the Holy Mandylion, the image of the Face of Christ known as the Icon-NotMade-By-Human-Hands that was loaned to the Eparchy of Mukachevo from the Vatican.
And it is in this hope that the Eparchy of Mukachevo warmly welcomes the Byzantine Catholics of the United States as pilgrims to a big celebration in May and September 2021 -— The 375th Anniversary of the Uzhorod Union and the 250th Anniversary of Eparchy of Mukachevo as a church sui juris.
May God continue to draw together the Byzantine Catholic Church in the United States and our Mother Church in Europe, and may God grant our Bishops Šašik, Chautur, and Lach many blessed years!