Monsignor Stephen Hrynuck

Monsignor Stephen Hrynuck, the "holy little priest from the church with the golden domes in Olyphant," was called home by his Heavenly Father on Thursday, March 6, surrounded by the extraordinary love and care from the Little Sisters of the Poor and his caregivers, Roman and Eileen Kushner, at Holy Family Residence in Scranton. He was 102 years old. Among the fruits of a life well lived, Monsignor will be most remembered as a determined disciple of Our Lord, dedicated to help all who touched his life come into a deeper understanding of God's divine plan. He was pastor of SS. Cyril and Methodius Ukrainian Catholic Church in Olyphant for 57 years, from 1951 until his retirement in 2008.

Born in Philadelphia on Dec. 27, 1911, Monsignor Hrynuck was the son of the late Michael and Anastasia Chesak Hrynuck. He was accepted into Temple University's premedical studies program in 1929 in obedience to his family, who wanted him to be a physician. However, he decided instead to follow God's will and become a healer of souls. Guided by the Holy Spirit, he entered St. Josaphat's Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Rome, where he graduated with master's degrees in philosophy and theology. He was ordained to the priesthood on April 3, 1938, by Bishop Alexander Yevreinov in Rome, returning to the Ukrainian Catholic Archdiocese in Philadelphia later that same year. His spiritual motto, chosen on the day of his priestly ordination, are the words of the Mother of God: "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God, My Savior." (Lk. 1.46)

Prior to his transfer to Olyphant in 1951, early pastoral assignments took him to Minneapolis, Minn.; Chester, Pa.; and New York City, followed by several years at the Minor Seminary at St. Basil's College in Stamford Conn., where he became a spiritual director, rector and an instructor of philosophy. In 1947, after completion of his Ph.D. in philosophy at New York's Fordham University, Monsignor taught at the Major Seminary of St. Josaphat's in Washington, D.C., and became its rector.

The Olyphant parish certainly flourished under his 57 years of leadership with numerous religious program developments, renovations and property developments. From the construction of the convent on River Street, a school gymnasium and a church hall that housed a kindergarten classroom, to the support and development of the renowned church choir and the numerous adult baseball and youth basketball champion teams, his energy was contagious and impact to his church community was unprecedented. But perhaps his most notable contributions extended beyond the benefit of his parishioners. He built the beautiful and often-visited Shrine of Our Lady of Zhyrovytsi in 1980 and the monument commemorating both the Millennium of Christianity of Ukrainian people and the parish's centennial in 1988. In 1975, he initiated the Sunday radio broadcast of the Divine Liturgy, which continued every Sunday for more than 30 years and boasted listeners throughout the world by those who discovered it on the Internet. His Wednesday novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, exemplified his extraordinary devotion to the Mother of Our Lord. And his dedication to Catholic education is evidenced by the many graduates of its elementary school program. Moreover, Monsignor also served in many leadership capacities within the Ukrainian Archdiocese of Philadelphia as well. In recognition of this service, he was elevated to the rank of a Papal Chamberlain by His Holiness Pope Paul VI in 1968, and bestowed the title of Monsignor. He was also nominated a Mitered Archpriest by His Beatitude Major Cardinal Slipyj in Rome and subsequently installed by Archbishop Stephen Sulyk, D.D.

Monsignor Hrynuck's greatest and immeasurable accomplishments are known by the One who knows all, Our Lord. His legacy is evidenced by the hearts, minds and souls of the faithful who are the witnesses and benefactors of his love and servitude to God's divinity and unfathomable mercy. May his memory live eternal.

Monsignor Hrynuck was predeceased by a brother and fellow priest, the Rev. Dr. John Hrynioch; and a sister, Maria. He is survived by many loving nieces, grandnieces and grandnephews in Ukraine.

Friends may call Monday, from noon to 8 p.m. at SS. Cyril and Methodius Church, 135 River St., Olyphant, with Parastas at 7. The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy will be celebrated by His Grace, Archbishop Metropolitan Stefan Soroka, on Tuesday at 11 a.m. Interment will be in the parish cemetery in Peckville.

Due to the Lenten season, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to SS. Cyril and Methodius Church, 135 River St., Olyphant, PA 18447; or Holy Family Residence, 2500 Adams Ave., Scranton, PA 18509.

Published in Scranton Times on Mar. 9, 2014