Oldest Catholic U.S. pastor retires at age 97

.- After serving as the pastor of SS. Cyril and Methodius Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Olyphant, Pennsylvania for over 50 years, Monsignor Stephen Hrynuck, 97, has retired due to health concerns.

Orphaned at an early age, the Ukranian Catholic Eparchy of Philadelphia reports, Msgr. Hrynuck was left in the custody of an uncle who dreamed of the boy studying at Temple University and becoming a doctor.  However, a friend of Msgr. Hrynuck’s parents instead convinced him to meet with the bishop of Philadelphia and tell him of his desire to become a priest.

Two weeks after knocking on the bishop’s door, Msgr. Hrynuck was on a plane to Italy. He was ordained in Rome over 70 years ago, on April 3, 1938.

Following his ordination, he served in Minneapolis and also several seminaries.  After a prestigious assignment in Washington, D.C., he took a humble post in a small town north of Scranton named Olyphant as pastor of SS. Cyril and Methodius Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

Fifty-seven years later, on the first Sunday of the new year, Msgr. Hrynuck was seated in the pews with his fellow parishioners.

After over half a century, not being on the altar for Sunday Liturgy could be a shock to a preacher, but Msgr. Hrynuck explained that just not the case for him. “I will have to adjust myself, but it’s for the best.”

“I tell them (parishioners), I was trying for 57 years to bring you closer to God,” the monsignor continued. “And I hope they stay with the Lord.”

The monsignor announced his retirement a few months ago, citing problems with his health. He recently had a bad fall, something he took as a sign. Archbishop Stefan Soroka, of the Ukrainian Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said the monsignor retires as one of the oldest Catholic pastors serving in the United States.

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