Bidding Farewell to Archbishop and Metropolitan-Emeritus Stephen Sulyk (1924-2020)

Monday, 13 April 2020, 14:54
With natural sadness but also with Paschal hope the Philadelphia Archeparchy bids farewell to Metropolitan-Emeritus Stephen Sulyk. As a priest and bishop, he was a dedicated minister of the Lord in the Archeparchy for 65 years since his priestly ordination in 1955. We thank God for his life and raise prayers of gratitude for his service. The coronavirus pandemic, to which evidently the Archbishop succumbed at the age of 95, does not allow us to come together for the funeral. Thus, we are called to unite in prayer and spirit from our homes. When the danger for our clergy and faithful passes we will celebrate a requiem in which all can participate.
In the name of our deceased Metropolitan, I thank all the bishops, clergy, religious, and faithful that worked with him over the many decades of his service in America. He is grateful to all of you, as he himself expressed during the joyful, warm celebration of his 95th birthday in October held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. He appreciated the collegiality shown by Roman Catholic bishops, clergy and communities, as well as the fellowship shared with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. He valued the decades of cooperation with various community organizations.
 
We are most grateful for the services and kindnesses rendered to the Metropolitan by Ukrainian and Roman Catholic chaplains, religious, and laypersons during the two decades of his retirement. Especially I would like to thank Carol and Michael Nunno for the genuine friendship and singular service that you offered to Archbishop Stephen. Your solicitude was outstanding. Father James King, chaplain at St. Mary’s Villa, ministered daily to the Metropolitan for many years. Archbishop Stephen was comforted and comfortable at St. Mary’s Villa. We thank all the staff and co-residents for their care and kindness. May the Lord reward all of you a hundredfold and fill your loss with His Resurrected presence. We express condolences to Frank Stec, Lidia Devonshire, Theresa Nord, Donna Sauchuk, Steve Boyduy, Stephen Stec, Kristin Magar, Lauren Stec, Jordan Stec, and to all members of the Metropolitan’s extended family. We thank God you could be with him in October. Our expressions of sympathy are ever more heartfelt given that you cannot participate in the funeral on Easter Monday.
 
 
I did not have the benefit of knowing Archbishop Stephen as a pastor directly, having myself spent most of the last four decades in Europe. I met His Grace for the first time during his episcopal consecration in 1981 at the Cathedral of St. Sophia, in Rome. It was my first year in the seminary. Patriarch Josyf Slipyj, the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church,had recently moved to live at the Ukrainian Catholic University, next to St. Sophia, and we seminarians were engaged in the preparations of the liturgical services and reception. I viewed everything with the big eyes of a novice. Metropolitan Stephen’s was the first episcopal ordination that I witnessed. I remember him standing in a white klobuk before the beautiful, large icon of the Mother of God that our own Christina Dochwat had painted for Patriarch Joseph. Over the subsequent years, in Rome and in Ukraine, I got to meet the Metropolitan numerous times. During trips to the United States I visited him in his apartment during the years of his retirement. He was always most hospitable. In the last ten months, during our encounters here in the archeparchy Archbishop Stephen shared with me crucial information, guiding the first steps of my service as a successor of his.
 
In these days, priests and laypeople from different states and different countries have shared with me their testimonials to Metropolitan Stephen’s piety, dedication, sense of responsibility, and pastoral diligence. Bishops have written letters of condolences from many lands recounting beautiful moments shared with the Archbishop and listing various generous gestures made by him. I trust that these reminiscences will be published and will contribute to the lasting legacy of a man who overcame the challenges faced by a village boy whose youth was scarred by a devastating war. Not a stone is left standing in Metropolitan’s home village, today found in southwestern Poland. His beloved village is gone. But the legacy of its son will remain among us.
 
May the Lord receive the soul of our dearly departed Metropolitan Stephen Sulyk and grant him
 
ETERNAL MEMORY!
 
 
Great Friday of Holy Week
April 10, 2020
+Borys Gudziak
Archbishop of Philadelphia and
Metropolitan for Ukrainian Catholics
of the United States
Obituary
 
Metropolitan-Archbishop Emeritus
Stephen Sulyk
Born into life—October 2, 1924
Born into Eternal Life—April 6, 2020
 
On Monday, April 6, Metropolitan-Archbishop Emeritus Stephen Sulyk while a patient at Virtua Voorhees Hospital, Voorhees NJ was called home to the Lord. Archbishop Sulyk, 95, served as Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia and Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States. 
 
He was appointed Metropolitan-Archbishop of Philadelphia by St. John Paul II on December 29, 1980 and was consecrated bishop in Rome on March 1, 1981. The principal Consecrator was His Beatitude Josyf Cardinal Slipyj, and the Principal Co-Consecrators were Bishop Basil H. Losten, Bishop of Stamford and Bishop Nilus Nicholas Savaryn, O.S.B.M. Bishop of Edmonton.
 
Upon reaching the canonical age for retirement, St. John Paul II accepted his resignation on November 29, 2000
 
Stephen Sulyk was born to Michael and Mary Denys Sulyk on October 2, 1924 in Balnycia, a village in the Lemko District of the Carpathian mountains in Western Ukraine. In 1944, he graduated from high school in Sambir. After graduation, the events of Word War II forced him to leave his native land and share the experience of a refugee.
 
He entered the Ukrainian Catholic Seminary of the Holy Spirit in Hirschberg, Germany. In 1948, he migrated to the United States and continued his priestly studies at Saint Josaphat’s Seminary and The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
 
In 1952, he received his S.T.L. degree from the Catholic University of America and was ordained to the priesthood on June 14, 1952 at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Philadelphia.
 
After ordination, he served as assistant pastor in Omaha, Nebraska; Brooklyn, N.Y; St. Nicholas parish in Minersville,, Pa., and Youngstown, Ohio. He received his first pastoral assignment in 1955 in Phoenixville, Pa. with the additional responsibilities as Chancery Secretary.
 
From July 1, 1957 until October 5, 1961 he was pastor of St. Michael’s Church in Frackville, Pa. During his short tenure of four years, he built, furnished and paid for a new church and parish social hall. Annual gross income rose from $10,000 in 1957 to $60,000 in what was considered a financially depressed area.
 
After a short stay at St. Nicholas parish in Philadelphia, on March 22, 1962, he was appointed pastor of Assumption Church, Perth Amboy, N.J. Within a year, he completed a new elementary school.  During his pastorate, he converted the rectory into a convent for nuns, built a new rectory, purchased and landscaped additional parish grounds and renovated the parish church. He also compiled and printed a series of bi-lingual texts for use in liturgical services. On May 31, 1968, His Holiness Pope Paul VI granted him the dignity of Papal Chaplain with the title of Monsignor.
 
On December 29, 1980 he was appointed Metropolitan-Archbishop of Philadelphia by Pope John Paul II. He was consecrated bishop in Rome on March 1, 1981.
 
He supervised the construction of a new chancery center and bishop’s residence and cathedral rectory. He renovated the sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and landscaped the adjoining grounds. He established the Seminary Endowment Fund to finance the education of seminarians and to provide income for St. Josaphat’s Seminary.
 
At the request of the Vatican, he was involved in sensitive diplomatic talks with members of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine at the time the Soviet Union was collapsing, Ukraine was becoming an independent nation and the Ukrainian Catholic Church was emerging from its existence as a persecuted catacomb church under atheistic communism of the Soviets.
 
He has served on various committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church..
 
June 14, 2002 was the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination to the Holy Priesthood and his Golden Jubilee was observed with the celebration of a hierarchical Divine Liturgy and a testimonial banquet on June 23, 2002.
 
October 1, 2019, he was honored by the Archeparchy on the occasion of his 95th birthday.
 
During his retirement years, he lived in Cherry Hill, N.J.
 
He was predeceased by his parents and the following siblings: Ivan, Vasyl, Dmytro, Anna Nicholas and Ivan, Jr.
 
In addition to several nieces and nephews, he is survived by the following cousins: Frank Stec (Christine), Steve Boyduy, Lidia Devonshire, Theresa Nord (Tim), Donna Sauchak (Greg), Stephen Stec (Tonya), Kristin Magar (Steve), Lauren Stec and Jordan Stec.
 
Due to the coronoavirus pandemic, private funeral services for the late Metroplitan-Archbishop Stephen will be conducted on Bright Monday, April 13, 2020 by Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak with interment in the crypt of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Philadelphia, Pa.
 
A public requiem Divine Liturgy for the repose of his soul will be celebrated at a future date to be determined.