Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fr. Val's viewing


The table at the entrance of the church, with personal items and other things to represent his priestly ministry. It was taken at around 5:45am, hours before priest would be brought back into the church to lay in state

The wake for Fr. Val Rykowski began yesterday. Fr. Ben Kosnac, the pastor, had been out of the country which is why there was roughly a one week delay.

I went to Mass in the morning and, after hearing about a beautiful display with Father's personal items, I took my camera and got some photos of it before the 6:00am Mass. Draped over the table at the entrance of the church was his trademark, Holy Trinity, stole. The table also had a crown of thorns, a bible, a chalice, paten and some other things.

Someone had encouraged me to come back and take pictures after Father was laying in state. I was uncomfortable with this, but knew from my time in Europe, that what is off-putting in one culture, is common in another. I spoke with Fr. Libor, the associate in the morning and he said it would be good to ask Fr. Ben who was expected back in the afternoon. He suggested I come back.

I left my camera equipment in the car when I went at 6:00pm and was going to let it go when I got a tap on the shoulder as I sat in the pew. It was Fr. Ben. He whispered to me that it was perfectly fine to take photos and that I should go up after the Rosary is done and let the ushers know I had his permission.

Among the pictures taken included a photo of Fr. Val's sister and brother - also a priest. They will get a set of photos before departing on the 25th.

Those photos taken with Fr. Val in state, will not be published on the internet. If there is a broad shot, I may run it past Fr. Ben. My intent was to simply put the photos on disk and to give them to a few key people at the parish to put away.


Many people considered Fr. Val a living saint. He was a highly virtuous man, one with such a devotion to the Holy Trinity. He gave witness to the Eucharist by the tears which flowed down his face during consecration. He is responsible for many young men of the parish, and probably elsewhere, becoming priests. Even at 92, he was spiritual advisor to many right up until the end, and confessor to many more. Ordained on March 20, 1943, he died just 19 days short of his anniversary.

Further testimony to Father's sanctity is that the rectory was being inundated with requests for personal items of Fr. Val, including just a lock of hair. Upon entering the doors of the church after going through the vestibule, were baskets with Miraculous Medals. People were taking these, and other items they brought with them, to touch the hand of Fr. Val with. I myself had never witnessed this, but it is driven by the belief that the priest is already in heaven.

Fr. Val himself would tell us to pray for him. Our Catholic faith tells us we must do this out of charity, no matter how saintly we think someone is. However, prayers not needed by Fr. Val, are prayers he can give to the poor souls in purgatory he begged us all to pray for.

See photos from Sts Cyril & Methodius on the parish website...

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!