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Beloved retired Ukrainian Catholic priest dies at 102

Msgr Stephen Hrynuck, a priest of the Ukrainian Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, who died last week (CNS)

Msgr Stephen Hrynuck, a priest of the Ukrainian Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia known by many as the “holy little priest from the Church with the golden domes in Olyphant,” died last week at the age of 102.

He died on March 6 at the Holy Family Residence in Scranton, where he had lived since February and was cared for by Little Sisters of the Poor. Prior to that, since January 2009, he had been living in the care of Eileen and Roman Kushner of Peckville.

When he retired in late 2008 at age 97, Msgr Hrynuck had been the oldest active US Catholic pastor. A funeral Divine Liturgy was to be celebrated today at SS Cyril and Methodius Ukrainian Catholic Church in Olyphant, Pennsylvania, where he served as pastor for 57 years, from 1951 until his retirement. Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia was to concelebrate the liturgy with Father Nestor Iwaisw, the current pastor. Interment was to follow at the Church’s cemetery.

Father Iwaisw told The Scranton Times-Tribune daily newspaper that wherever he goes he runs into someone who knew Msgr Hrynuck. “He’s baptised most of the parish. He’s married most of the parish. He’s buried most of the relatives. It’s going to be quite the big change for everybody,” Father Iwaisw told the paper. “It’s an end of an era.”

Born on December 27, 1911, Msgr Hrynuck was the son of the late Michael and Anastasia Chesak Hrynuck, who came to the United States from western Ukraine in 1909 and settled in Philadelphia, where their son Stephen was born.

He was named a monsignor in 1968. After that, he also was nominated as mitered archpriest by Ukrainian Cardinal Josyf Slipyj in Rome and subsequently installed by Archbishop Stephen Sulyk, then head of the Ukrainian Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Msgr Hrynuck was honoured at the celebration of the 125th anniversary of SS Cyril and Methodius Ukrainian Catholic Church (1888-2013) in October 2013.He attended the Divine Liturgy every day until a few months before his death. He was preceded in death by a brother, who also was a priest, Father John Hrynuck, and a sister, Maria. He is survived by many nieces, grandnieces and grandnephews in Ukraine.