September 15, 2018 was a special day for the Slovaks of Byzantine Rite in Canada. It was the day they waited for over two years to celebrate: On July 5th, 2018 His Holiness Pope Francis named Fr. Marian Andrej Pacak, C.Ss.R., as the third bishop of the Eparchy of Saints Cyril and Methodius of Slovaks of Byzantine Rite in Canada. On that day, the prayers of all the faithful in the Eparchy were answered and the preparations began. Our Eparchy was under the Apostolic Administrator since July 2016 when our second Bishop, John Pazak, C.Ss.R., was appointed Bishop of Holy Protection of Mary, Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix. Father Marian Andrej was ordained bishop on September 2, 2018 in Michalovce, Slovakia. He is a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (commonly referred to as redemptorists). Our Eparchy thus follows in the footsteps of our first Bishop, Michael Rusnak, C.Ss.R. and our second Bishop, John Pazak, C.Ss.R.
The procession entered the Cathedral as the choir and all present were singing "Vosel jesi Archijereju - You have entered, Most Holy Bishop". Leading the procession were our eparchy priests: Fr. Jozef Mucha (Assumption Church- Hamilton), Fr. Ron Comeau (Transfiguration Mission-Thornhill) and Fr. Stephen Williams (Protection Church- Oshawa). Processing hierarchy and clergy included: Msgr. Fermin Emilio Sosa Rodriguez, charge d'affaires ad interim, representing His Excellency, the Most Reverend Luigi Bonazzi, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, His Excellency, Archbishop Cyril Vasil, SJ, Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in Rome, His Grace, Archbishop William Skurla, Archbishop of Pittsburgh, His Excellency Bishop John Kudrick, Bishop Emeritus of Eparchy of Parma, Very Rev. Mitred Archpriest Marek Visnovsky, Protosyncellus of Eparchy of Parma and rector of Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Parma, Fr. Lorenzo Loruso, O.P., Under Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in Rome, Fr. Alex Laschuk, representing Bishop Stephen Chmilar, Ukrainian Eparchy of Toronto, Bishop Pazak and Bishop Pacak and Fr. Marek Novicky, Chancellor of the Eparchy of Saints Cyril & Methodius of the Slovaks of Byzantine Rite in Canada and rector of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God. Also in the procession were: Fr. Ondrej Pacak, C.Ss.R. (brother of Bishop Marian Andrej who is also a member of the redemptorist community) and Fr. Metod Lukacik, C.Ss.R., Vice- Provincial of the Michalovce Redemptorist Vice-Province in Slovakia. Bishop Joseph Dabrowski, C.S.M.A., Auxiliary Bishop of London, Bishop Vincent Nguyen, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto and Bishop Bawai Soro, Bishop of Chaldean Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto, were seated at the front of the church waiting for the liturgy to begin. In the pews were guest clergy and deacons from some of our sister churches. Also among the guests were several nuns from the order of SSMI (Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate). Among them was Sr. Petra Sicakova, Provincial of SSMI's in Slovakia. We certainly cannot forget the spouses and children of our married priests, sitting in the guest pews. The weather was perfect and the Cathedral was full of parishioners, guests and visitors.
Responses were led by a small group of dedicated parishioners who practiced diligently for the past two months to make this occasion as memorable as possible. They were joined by the rest of the parishioners and guests. Following "We bow to Your Cross, O Lord", the papal bull was read by Msgr. Fermin Rodriguez and Bishop Marian Pacak proudly displayed it to his brother bishops, his priests and his flock. He was then pronounced worthy and shared the kiss of peace with all hierarchy and priests. He took his place in front of the tetrapod and shared the kiss of peace with all those who were present in the cathedral.
Homily was delivered by His Excellency, Archbishop Cyril Vasil, SJ, who spoke of one apostolic church. He pointed out that Vladyka Marian Andrej is bridging the gap between byzantine catholics in Canada and the Roman Rite church since he will be a member of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Canada. The new bishop is also the link between the church in Canada and the church in Slovakia, which the faithful in Canada so strongly supported over the decades when it was persecuted. He pointed out that Vladyka Marian Andrej comes to Canada to share his gifts that he received from the Almighty and to breathe a new life into the Eparchy. It will not be an easy road for him, however as long as he walks with Christ, and with the support of his flock entrusted to him, he will reap the fruits of his labour. The entire enthronement liturgy was televised and live streamed over the internet and we were able to be connected with our friends and family in Slovakia. It was especially meaningful to our Bishop Marian Andrej, since all his family, except for his brother, Fr. Ondrej, is in Slovakia. Thank God for the age of technology we live in.
After the conclusion of the liturgy everyone went to the parish hall for refreshments. They were joined by most of the hierarchy and were able to personally meet with the new Bishop, Marian Andrej.
The celebrations concluded with a banquet held at the Capitol Banquet Centre in Mississauga. There, we welcomed: His Excellency, Mr. Vit Koziak, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to Canada with his charming wife and their two beautiful daughters. We were also joined by Most Rev. Bishop Jose Kalluvelil, Apostolic Exarch for Syro- Malabar faithful in Canada and rector of the Cathedral, Fr. Sebastian.
Following the introduction of the head table and other honoured guests, dinner was served. Greetings from organizations and laity were conveyed to the new bishop and he, in turn took his spot at the podium and delivered his heartfelt thanks to everyone who made this celebration possible, with special thanks to Fr. Marek Novicky, whose days ran into nights and nights into days, to make sure this celebration was successful. With final benediction, the guests were treated to a delicious dessert and after some more mingling with the new bishop and each other, slowly began to disperse and head for home.
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful day,for hearing our prayers, for sending us Vladyka Marian Andrej.
Welcome to your new home, Vladyka.
Text: Mary Siroky-Snell, Innisfil, Ontario
Photos: Helen von Friedl, Toronto