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The Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Archeparchy of Pittsburgh Celebrates 50 years
The 50th-anniversary celebration of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Archeparchy of Pittsburgh June 23 at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Munhall, Pa. brought together clergy, sisters, faithful and esteemed guest Leonardo Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches at the Vatican in Rome.
Metropolitan Archbishop William Skurla offered some perspective on the momentous occasion during his comments at the banquet following the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. He thanked all religious and faithful who attended, some who traveled from “one coast to the other” to be at the celebration. “It is through their dedication and generosity to our parishes across the United States that we have all of you building up our little portion of the Kingdom of God, which He has entrusted to us.”
The Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church in the United States was formed by Pope Paul VI, who issued a decree on Feb. 21, 1969, entitled Quando Quidem Christus. By virtue of this decree, the Holy Father officially created the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church. The Eparchy of Munhall thus was elevated to Archeparchy, and the Eparchy of Passaic was designated as a suffragan, or constituent part of the Metropolitan Church. Additionally, the new suffragan Eparchy of Parma, Ohio, was created from the western territory of the former Munhall Eparchy.
The Holy Father appointed Bishop Stephen Kocisko to head the new Metropolitan Church and named him Archbishop. On June 11, 1969, Most Reverend Luigi Raimondi, the Apostolic Delegate to the United States, enthroned Archbishop Stephen as the first Metropolitan in the history of the Carpatho-Rusyn people. Cardinal Sandri’s homily during the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy focused on being open to acting as missionaries — or “fishers of men” — in their
“Pope Francis asked me to bring you his greetings and blessings,” he said. “Let us always remain open and available to the actions of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.” The banquet, emceed by Chris Singel, was filled with memorable moments, including Very Rev. Andrew Deskevich, Protosyncellus, of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, presenting Cardinal Sandri with an icon of the Mother of God overlooking the City of Pittsburgh.
George Janocsko, cantor at St. John the Baptist Cathedral, asked attendees to board a “time machine” — similar to the one H.G. Wells wrote about in his 1895 science-fiction novella, he said— to look at the Church’s history. He shone light on how much things have changed over the past 50 years in the Archeparchy and Pittsburgh itself. “In 1969, the Pirates were good and the Steelers and Penguins were bad,” he said, with a laugh. George said, unfortunately, we don’t have a time machine to glimpse the future of the Church.
But the future is up to us. “We the members of this generation will be remembered as stewards of the faith.” Metropolitan William also looked to the future. “If we all do our part, we’ll have the 100th celebration coming forward and we pray the Lord be with you and all of your families and your communities during these coming years.”