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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
27 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Bishop John S. Pazak, center, is the new head of the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Eparchy of Phoenix. He was enthroned 20 July during a Divine Liturgy at St. Helen Roman Catholic Church in Glendale, Arizona. (photo: CNS/courtesy Kathleen Slonka, Eparchy of Phoenix)

The American West welcomed a new bishop from the East last week. From CNS:

In a liturgy packed with rich symbolism and ancient tradition, the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Eparchy of Phoenix celebrated the enthronement of Bishop John S. Pazak as its fifth bishop.

Archbishop William C. Skurla of the Byzantine Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, and a former bishop of the Phoenix-based eparchy, prayed the words of enthronement over the new bishop during a Divine Liturgy that took place at St. Helen Catholic Church in Glendale 20 July.

The Byzantine Catholic Church is one of the Eastern Catholic churches in full communion with Rome.

Bishop Pazak, who spent the past 15 years as the bishop of the Ss. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Eparchy in Toronto, processed to the front of the church followed by Archbishop Skurla and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the U.S. Bishops and clergy from across the country — including Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, who head, respectively, the Latin-rite dioceses of Phoenix and Tucson — also attended along with Catholics from throughout the eparchy.

“I am truly pleased to be with you today,” Archbishop Pierre said after reading the 7 May proclamation appointing Bishop Pazak. “I know that you join with me in offering to him not only our heartfelt congratulations, but also the assurance of our prayerful support as he takes on the very important responsibilities of chief shepherd of this community of faith.”

“Receive this pastoral staff with which you are to watch over Christ’s flock that has been entrusted to your care,” Archbishop Skurla prayed at the enthronement.

The congregation responded with cries of “Axios! Axios!” — Greek words meaning “he is worthy.” Throughout the liturgy, almost entirely chanted, there were echoing refrains of “Lord have mercy” and “God grant him many years.” Archbishop Skurla then escorted Bishop Pazak to the throne, officially taking the reins of the eparchy.

In his homily, the new bishop conveyed a message of mercy:

Society must learn to respect “every single human being who is made in the image and likeness of God” and Christians must act with mercy, he said. “Our world needs the witness of Christ’s unconditional mercy that we proclaim so often in our liturgy. Divine mercy must illuminate our minds, and more importantly, our hearts and our life’s journey.”

[Phoenix] Bishop Olmsted said he was touched by the Byzantine liturgy. “They have different traditions, different prayers, but it’s the same Eucharist, the same sacred Scriptures, the same love for Christ.”

The Scriptures and liturgy come alive for Latin-rite Catholics who attend a Byzantine liturgy, he said, and “I trust they do the same when they come to our sacred liturgies. We help one another grow in an even deeper love for Christ.”

In the Winter 2015 edition of ONE, writer Joyce Coronel and photographer Nancy Wiechec offered a fascinating glimpse into another Church of the East flourishing in the American southwest, the Chaldean Church. Check it out.