Saturday, April 14, 2012

Metropolitan Jan Babjak SJ in Hamilton

On Saturday, April 14, 2012, the Most Reverend Archbishop and Metropolitan of all Byzantine Catholic Slovaks in Slovakia, Jan Babjak, S.J. visited The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Slovak Byzantine Catholic parish in Hamilton, Ontario.  This was his first ever visit to the parish.  For Slovak Byzantine Catholics, his visit to Canada, to the parish in Hamilton, and two of the other parishes in the Slovak Byzantine Catholic Eparchy represented a continuity of the work of our first archbishop and saint, St. Methodius, who over 1100 years ago visited parishes across the region of what is now Slovakia.  Like St. Methodius, who with his brother St. Cyril evangelized the Slavs in Europe, including our Slovak forefathers, the Most Reverend Archbishop and Metropolitan Jan Babjak, S.J. came to wake us from our slumber and to strengthen our Catholic faith here in our Slovak Byzantine Catholic community in Canada.  Following in the footsteps of St. Methodius, he came to remind us of God’s love for us and invite us to come forward and to live lives of active faith in our parishes, our communities, our workplaces and in our homes.  And we responded.  We warmly welcomed him with “Vosel Jesi Archijereju!” and participated in a beautiful Divine Liturgy sung in Slovak, led by him and our Slovak Byzantine Catholic Bishop for all of Canada, the Most Reverend Bishop John Pazak, C.Ss.R.  Concelebrating with them was our parish priest, Fr. Jozef Mucha and several visiting priests.  They were assisted by sub-deacon Daniel Cerny currently working on his doctorate in Rome, and several altar boys.
     In the church hall, following the Divine Liturgy, parishioners and visitors welcomed the Archbishop and Metropolitan and joined him in a lovely meal prepared by a few of our church volunteers.  In the hall, he spoke to us of the growth of the Slovak Byzantine Catholic Church in Slovakia, the new basilica minors, the many pilgrim sites, the work being done with families and young people across the Eparchies in Bratislava, Kosice and the Archeparchy in Presov.  He spoke to us of the growth of vocations to the priesthood, the many seminarians and priests that the Archeparchy now has, and of some of the work of these priests in the US as well.  He sang to us with a number of parishioners joining in.  And he made sure that he met with each and everyone, taking time to know us and for us to get to know him.  He left our church, our parish, with renewed hope, hope in God who loves us, who gave his Son for us, a hope that is ours as active Catholics, a hope that calls us to reveal God’s presence in all aspects of our lives and to share His presence with others as we journey to our ultimate home with Him at the end of our lives.
     To the Most Reverend Archbishop and Metropolitan Jan Babjak, S.J. we can only say a simple thank you.  Thank you for awakening in our hearts our need for God.  Thank you!  And to each other we can turn and unite, lifting our gaze to God as we move forward in prayer and in faith, to build and to grow.

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