2017 marks our 40th anniversary of foundation and summoning deep gratitude! Certainly on December 25th gratitude to God filled all hearts for Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary. "The Holy Spirit will come upon thee ..so the Child will be called the Son of God." Our 2016 Christmas is a reality at the Divine Liturgy: Mother Church gives Jesus to us: the Word-made-Flesh as Bread. In our Chapel the Celebrant's words at the Epiclesis invocation,, calling the action of the Holy Spirit, makes present this same Lord Jesus Christ, for whom we live and whom we follow. So it is indeed fitting that this second chapter (of a 12 part "account") be devoted to the priests and Bishops whom we, the Sisters of Holy Annunciation, hold in happy remembrance.
Father Stephen Luzetsky was pastor of Beaver Meadow in 1977 when Bishop Michael asked him to show us diocesan property in Father Stephen's care, which occasioned both meeting Father Stephen- and friendship for many years.
From day-one the Byzantine Franciscans were the heart of our life in the foundation transition. They were community for us as well as being chaplains, and confessors for many decades. Father Anthony, (the then) "Father" Basil, Father Marion, a very dear friar Father Cyril Drozdik, so humbly obedient, so transparent in love of God, so endearingly astute in securing what was [for him] the right thing! He donated lots of plants and trees to our bare terrain, and though near death was concerned about our having a Christmas tree! Never to be forgotten- young college student, nephew to Fr. Anthony, soon to be "Father Bill", our sometime Chaplain, later our Bishop, and now Metropolitan Archbishop- William C. Skurla. Always a father and friend!
In 1977 Father John Cigan was with Msgr. Jackanich at St. John's in Hazleton. The Vida-Cigan family donated our sanctuary (tabernacle, Repedia, and seven branch candelabra in memory of their daughter and niece, Maria Vida. This whole Sanctuary was (I am quite sure) the Byzantine Chapel of the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia, 1976- financed by the Eastern Hierarchy, purchaseded by Bishop Michael, reimbursed in sale by the Cigan Family for our Chapel. Truly a magnificent gift!
While still in residence in Sybertsville in the then "white house, Father John Opalenick introduced us to Fr. Robert Taft, SJ. - whose expertise in matters liturgical, plus friendship, has been blessing for 40 years! After his Bishop Michael's retirement and residence with us Monsignor was a welcome presence in care of our beloved Bishop Michael. Msgr. Opalenick's ' sudden death was a loss and great sorrow to us.
The sequence of months escapes me, but Bishops residence with us occasioned visits from Father Barushefski, whose compassion and kindness will be remembered here.
In autumn 1977[?] an open house for clergy [and I think- religious] initiated a host of new friendships. Father Theodore Rudy, Father Paul Tyger are two who date from the event. Father Rudy recommended us to parishioners, notably, Kathryn Behonick and her sisters.
Father Leonard Hollick was another early, great friend, including the Hollick Family, mother and sisters whose presence in our life endures till this day. Another family friendship was that of [the then newly ordained] Father Charles Yastischock, mother, aunts, sisters and brother. The number of memorials (icons) in our monastery fix, as it were in concrete, their family presence in our history. Father Joseph Homa is outstanding in the rostrum of clerical friends. How often he came (from Long John Silver or Elby's in Tamaqua.) to enhance a current festivity! He, Bishop Dolinay and Msgr Billy made quite an interesting trio (or quartet with Fr Bob Skurla!). Even from New Jersey Father Homa remembered us. We owe him much! In June Bishop Michael was interred at Uniontown and saw Fr. Homa, for a last time. He died soon after. Father Paul Firczak did not visit often but he seemed prophetic in knowing that our Community would go to Trans-Carpathia- and he contributed the wherewithal when years later the time of implementation did come. Father John Zeyack's frequest visits with retired Bishop Michael and help to our Sisters in Ughgorod continues in encouraging support of us. Michael Salnicky was young when we arrived but his devout mother, Martha, kept the Salnicky name in the forefront until Fr. Michael's ordination in 1993. Before Msgr. Nicholas Puhak returned to PA, and Freeland we knew him through his admirable father, attorney Puhak and brothers, sisters and cousins!
Woven in and out of the fabric of our early years- usually depending on where they were assigned are Father Nicholas Alishofski; Father Emil Paulshock (an expert in procuring liturgical materials! ) Monsignor John Powell in Scranton, an early contributor to our library; Father Nicholas De Prospero, who succeeded Fr Emil in Pottstown, and dear Father Miyo, an inspiration and help, (constructive critic) when Life in the Monastery recording was in the making. Father Michael Shear zeroed in and out, always with some contribution.
Local seminarians were quite present to us in the very first days: (now Father but then) Gregory Noga from McAdoo (and Msgr. Opalenick); young Bob Evancho- always at work and usually on a tractor; Fr Hollick's nephew, [Father] Robert Hospodar. A few years later a "new" age group came on the scene. In the mid-1980's seminarian (now Reverend ) Jody Baran and with grateful remembrance, seminarian, now Very Reverend James Hayer who, the evening before a triple profession ceremony, saw one nun's great distress and saved the situation by offering help. Never to be forgotten!
Bishop Dolinay knocked on our door hours after our arrival at Sybertsville, in February, 1977. He had come to visit Monsignor Koval, retired and residing with the Franciscan Fathers. Two days later Bishop celebrated the first Divine Liturgy of our foundation in the White House.
Although not an assigned chaplain (as were Auxiliary Bishops Kuzma and Pataki), we saw a great deal of Bishop Thomas and his family. (Pani Yolanda is in truth our bakery's foundress.) We met Father John Fetsco, CSsR at Bishop Thomas' Mountaintop home. While the entire Fetsco family widened our circle of new friends, Father Andrew Krafcik, CSsR, of truly saintly memory, claims our deep appreciation, admiration and esteem. When (1993 -2004) we went to Slovakia, Father Andrew was, for a time, with us. A young Father John (now Bishop) Pazak was often here. A most vivid memory is his participation in our [fund-raising) marathon! Fr Bob Evancho's performance that day also deserves honorable mention. Slovak Redemptorist Provincial, Father Stefan Lazor, CSsR, visited us in 1988, as communism was collapsing. In 1993 began more than a decade of travel and presence in Slovakia and Trans Carpathian Ukraine. Many, indeed, are the priests and Bishops we met in the subsequent 10 years- but these await a future chapter. When the Redemptorists departed Wilkes Barre, Msgr. John Sekellick's arrival at St. Mary's was an opportunity for another friendship and with Fr. Donish succesor to Fr. Homa.
Father John Drozda, SDB, was a wonderful help in the early days as community confessor. Bishop Kuzma was always a delightful chaplain and encouraging friend- and our cat Cyril loved to sit on his car! More importantly, he was Head of the Board of the Father Walter Ciszek Prayer league; Bishop Andrew Pataki's chaplaincy is uniquely memorable for the gift we utilize weekly: his recipe for clam linguini. When Bishop Michael was on sick-leave absence, many filled in! - Fr Emil Moskva; bi-ritual Maryknoll Father Reilly; and the Syro-Malabar Carmelite Fathers. How often we sought Father James Demko- always so beautiful and thus memorable Divine Liturgies. To be included are the Jesuits from Scranton U: Father Sable for Church History classes; Fathers Levko and Hill as confessors. Father Len Martin helped us out on so many occasions that he seems part of innumerable celebrations. Another not-to-be forgotten is Father John Szada, along with Discalced Carmelite Friars, notably Fathers Provincial Jude Peters and Stephen Watson. Of course local Roman Rite priests helped us from time-to-time: Father Pat McLaughlin, confessor to Bishop Michael and us; Father Charles Cummings, also a confessor whose donations enabled significant purchases to enhance our library. Father Pasquale Papalia, once bi-ritual, a promoter of our bakery, friend, and lavish in flowers for our Chapel. Monsignor Raymond Misulich (delivered a Chancery AB Dick offset to us); Monsignor Dzurisin (whose financial care of us was told by Bishop Michael); Monsignor Senetsky- the only one with us of a great team known as Consultors; Father Baratelli, always ready with "thumbs up" on our behalf; friend and pet lover, Fr. Marcel Szabo. Last as an epilogue, perhaps more of a Prolog. Somewhere after 1974 and before our 1977 arrival in Sybertsville, Father George Bujnak, with St. Clair cantor Joseph Kotch and wife Julia visited Elysburg Carmel. The portress (aware of plans for Sugarloaf) summoned the to-be foundresses -a surprise to Father George, whose visit was because of an icon connected with Elysburg!! Any account like this risks omitting someone deserving of mention. Corrections and additions will be happily received.
In 2017 February 18th is the First All Souls Saturday. Our Divine Liturgy intention and Panachida will be for the priests mentioned in this account and all deceased clergy of our Eparchy
Our Divine Liturgy on Saturday, March 25th Feast of Holy Annunciation will be for Most Reverend Kurt Burnette and all the living clergy named in this account- and for all priests of our Eparchy