Monday, March 2, 2009

R.I.P.: Fr. Val Rykowski 1916-2009....And, God loves you too, Fr. Val

Fr. Val concelebrating Holy Mass with Bishop Athanasius Schneider, ORC when the auxiliary bishop of Karaganda, Kazakhstan and author of Dominus Est, visited St. Cyril & Methodius in July 2008

UPDATE - March 5, 2009: Consider bookmarking this post and revisiting it daily. Comments are dropping in with some amazing "Fr. Val" stories. Perhaps you have one to contribute. Moderation most often happens in the evening, so don't be discouraged if you don't see your comment right away.

I learned at Grotto's 6:30am Mass this morning of the passing of Fr. Val Rykowski, once called the Archdiocese of Detroit's version of the Energizer Bunny. Anyone who came into contact with the holy, elderly priest could see his great love for God and his holiness. But, Fr. Val himself would admonish us all to pray for the repose of his soul, no matter how saintly we considered him.

This holy priest, who exemplified the love of Christ, died with his boots on. He pushed himself at times to help in whatever way he could right up until the end. He continuously reminded us just how much God loved us.

Well done, faithful servant, well done. And, God loves you too!

I must get off to work, but would like to share one thing that I remember most about Fr. Val: His love for the Holy Eucharist. I use to go to the 6:00am Mass at Sts Cyril & Methodius, before Grotto began the 6:30am daily weekday liturgy. Fr. Val spent his final years at Sts C & M and whenever he said Mass, I could not keep myself from crying as I saw tears streaming down Father's face during the Consecration. I don't think I have ever seen him not get all choked up during the Consecration. It was a testimony to the Real Presence for me and he witnessed this fact well. A powerful, gentle lesson from a holy priest.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and stories of Fr. Val in the combox here. I will moderate comments before and after work, so it may take some time before you see you comment.

Also keep in your prayers, the priests and people who were so close to Fr. Val at Sts Cyril & Methodius in Sterling Heights and in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Check the Sts Cyril & Methodius homepage for details and arrangements.

EDIT: The viewing and funeral have been delayed because the pastor, Fr. Ben, is out of the country. Viewing will be Monday the 9th, and Tuesday, with the funeral at Noon Wednesday. See more details in the link directly above.

Fr. Val speaking at the August 13, 2007 Fatima Devotion at Assumption Grotto

Fr. Val was known to plead with people to pray the Fatima Angel's Prayer:

MOST HOLY TRINITY, I adore you! My God, My God, I love You in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

MY GOD, I believe, I adore, I trust, and I love Thee! I ask pardon for for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love Thee.

Requiescat in pace, faithful son of the Church!

Te Deum Laudamus! Home

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


Anonymous said...

Very nice. I'm going to miss Father Val.

Julie williams said...

My heart is truly broken with the passing of this beloved priest. A priestly priest as Msgr. Sawyer from Assumption Grotto. How blessed are we to have been priviledged to be at his mass or in his confessional. My family is better spiritually for having opportunities to learn from him. I will CHERISH the memories of Fr. Val singing the "Angelina Song" to my very own infant daughter named Angelina and for teaching us the importance of the Prayer of Angel of Fatima which is taped on my computer. The tears must flow now, we love you Fr. Val. Jeff and Julie Williams and Children

Anonymous said...

Father Val, may you rest in the peace of Christ! Father Val blessed most of my rosaries; he had a special faculty that gave them 5 special blessings. He also told me to thank God every day for everything He has done for me, and that this would bring me great graces. I will miss him and his witness greatly.

Stan Williams said...

Diane, I so enjoy your posts, including this one about Fr. Val whom I had not heard of...being a relatively "young" Catholic and being from the West Side of the Detroit Metro area. My wife, Pam, and I attended our first couple Tridentine Mass at Grotto this past Christmas season and with the orchestra and choir loved them. And I understand the love for the Tridentine for those that were raised Catholic and know something of Latin. But, I also fully understand why Vatican II put it on hold for a while. I don't think I would be Catholic today if it wasn't for the English Mass, with the priest facing the congregation. It's about communication, and this post about Fr. Val and your picture of him celebrating mass makes a good point. You write "I could not keep myself from crying as I saw tears streaming down Father's face during the Consecration."

Think about how important that observation is to you. Think about how he communicated his love for Christ, and how he modeled for us during that most sacred time of any time practically -- the Consecration. You write "I don't think I have ever seen him not get all choked up during the Consecration. It was a testimony to the Real Presence for me and he witnessed this fact well. A powerful, gentle lesson from a holy priest."

Priest's can communicate a lot to us non-verbally. But it's really hard to do that when we hear not a word they say, cannot see what they are doing, and most of call cannot see their demeanor and passion of face.

Keep up the good work you do.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...


Good that I can explain and probably worth pulling out into it's own blogpsot.

I don't have time at the moment to go into it, but would like to post on it in the coming week or so because it is well worth some dialogue.

Rev. Lee Acervo said...

Quite simply, Fr. Val is a major reason why I am a priest today. His faithfulness to the Most Holy Trinity and the Holy Eucharist and his quiet reverence at the altar are why he is one of the priests that I've most admired.

Anonymous said...

I would like to give some historical background to Father Val Rykowski

I met Fr. Val Rykowski early in my priesthood (ordained 1981) while I was still in my first assignment. He was a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and was living in Phelps, Wisconsin. He would come to visit two of his sisters who lived in the parish. The pastor was kind enough to let him stay in the rectory.

In the social upheavals of the 60's and 70's, he was pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish on Milwaukee's Southside. He refused to place a picture of "Saint" Martin Luther King in the classrooms of the school. Much social unrest in the city was spearheaded by then priest James Groppi whom the archbishop at the time, William Cousins, backed. Needless to say, Father Val resigned his parish never to be heard from or acknowledged again in the Archdiocese.

He always found work here and there as a priest. His late brother was a priest in the Diocese pf Puebla, Colorado and he would go and help him at various times. Eventually Father found his was to Michigan and did various forms of priestly work. Until recent years, we would stay in touch by way of Christmas cards.

Anyone who knows him, knows he was a very holy priest, what we call a "living saint." I am glad that I ran across the announcement of his death. No archbishop has ever reached out to him, to my knowledge, and thanked him for being the priest that he was. I am sure he will not be accorded the honors of the Church by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee that were given to James Groppi. May his soul rest in peace.

Fr. Robert McDermott

Anonymous said...

Father McDermott,
I believe Father has reconciled with the Diocese of Milwaukee in the last few years through the intercession of Father Ben. You can be assured his funeral at Sts Cyril and Methodius will be far better and more fitting for this Saint of God, than anything else.

~~JennD.'J.M.J.'~* said...

hi Diane ~ Wonderful tribute to a truly saintly priest ~ may he rest in eternal light and peace!! I have posted about Fr. Val myself, as well, as this is my parish ~ and I feel blessed to have known him!
Keep up your great work; you do Assumption Grotto proud! :)

Anonymous said...

The tears I shed for the loss of this holy, holy priest are for my own selfish loss for I know that on this day Fr. Val is safely at home with his Mama and Papa, our dear Mother Mary and the Good Lord himself. I will be forever grateful for his gentle yet firm reminders that we need to know and love our Lord and be grateful that he has saved us from the fires of hell. Please continue to pray for us, Fr. Val, until we meet again.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Val was very instrumental in bringing my husband into the Catholic Church. He was the kind of priest who attended First Holy Communions parties for your children, came for Sunday dinner, sang his beautiful songs, was a John Vianney in the confessional (they were lined up, came early and stayed late). He counseled my drug addicted son, said yes and no when it came to the Church and was a beacon of light and love to everyone who ever met him. We have a beautiful advocate in heaven. How happy he must be to behold the face of the Holy Trinity, Mary, his family, and those little children of Fatima!

Anonymous said...

If it were not for Father Val's sincere advice to me when asked, I would have declared bankruptcy and my condo situation would have turned out differently, too. As it has happened, by prayer and perseverance, tithine, too, God has kept me from ruin and allowed me to sign my home back to the bank without foreclosure. Fr. Val told me, "No bankruptcy! Go to your PaPa in Heaven an tell him what you need and He will take care of you!" He really meant that when he said it. He was very assertive and very sincere in his advice to me that day. I followed his advice and delayed the legal action, in fact I wrote for a refund of the payment for the bankruptcy a week or so ago. He blessed my Dad after the Palla Eius play at Grotto when my Dad and I were strolling in the cemetery to the Grotto. I always saw him with is Rosary, and once I was at the end of a weekday Mass/Communion line to Fr. Ben, but desired to receive from Fr. Val. I was at then end of the line and Fr. Ben ran out of Hosts right before my turn, and so then I was joyfully able to receive from Fr. Val! My simple prayer was answered inthat instant! He had sat by me that day in the back of the old Church, at the same Mass and with his Rosary, and because of that I desired to receive from him. He was a very Holy and Good Priest, and a good example for the yonger Priests, in my opinion. May he rest in peace!

Catherine Martel

Anonymous said...

Fr. Val was brought to me when I thought I had lost my only good priestly example. His support of me during 'tough' times was instrumental in letting my children know that there was a 'true' path in the Catholic church as they were being exposed to only 'call to action' types. He was instrumental as a priestly example to my wife which led to her conversion, completed by Fr. Ben.
His honesty and sincerity was his best example to all. He brought a breath of fresh air to a priesthood that was becoming stagnant around Detroit, with exceptions of course.
You will be missed, but not forgotten.
Mike Kudzia

Pam Gesund said...

Father Val took me under his wings four years ago. I was experiencing a very difficult break-up which led me into a dark world of alcoholism and despair. While I was giving up on myself, Father Val never did. He was the one that got me to 6:00am Mass on almost a daily basis, many times in the confessional at 5:30am. He would call at the most crucial moments and at times show up on my doorstep with Holy Communion.I should have been dead a hundred times, but Father Val would always find me, whether by phone or in person. He has been very instrumental in my being alive, happy, and healthy today. God blessed me with a wonderful gift, a spiritual director whose faith was that of a saint. God also blessed me with an opportunity to see Father shortly before he passed away. Even in his labored speech, he was teaching me about the infinite love of the Most Holy Trinity and the love of our Blessed Mother. He taught me to always trust in God, and always through Mary, our Mother. I will miss Father Val immensely, but I know that he was ready to go home - and for this I am happy. I love you Father Val.

Pam Gesund

Anonymous said...

I am not a regular parishioner at Sts. Cyril and Methodius and did not know Fr. Val personally, but I had the honor of being in his Confessional on several occasions and of being at one of the Masses at which he presided. I do not believe I have ever encountered a more holy and reverent servant of God. His words during Confession (almost always including something to the effect of "Angel, God loves you with an infinite love") never failed to bring tears to my eyes. Everything about him, his mannerisms, the tone of his voice, the way he carried himself...all of it spoke of his deep deep love for Jesus, Mary, and the Catholic Church. I was blessed to witness him saying Mass and consecrating the Holy Body and Blood of Christ. I can attest to what others have said about how wonderful it was to watch this elderly priest, who must have presided over so many Masses and Consecrations in his lifetime, get sincerely choked up while elevating the Host and the Chalice. There was no doubt that he knew he was holding in his hands the True Presence of Christ. I will always appreciate the few short encounters I had with Fr. Val. He made a huge impact on me personally and I know he is in Heaven watching over us and praying for all of us. God bless you, Fr. Val, and thank you! You will truly be missed!!

Suzanne Calvano
Guardian Angels, Clawson, MI

Anonymous said...

I made my first confession at 19 and it was with Fr. Val. He spent 45 minutes with me. Since then it was a Divine chain reaction of graces which helped me have a true friendship with God. I came to him a few years ago and I told him my situation (among many), and he told me God is calling me to the priesthood, he was certain, I never even thought about it before. And now a few years later I cant see myself doing anything else but that. Fr. Val was on point. Also his homily's were powerful, he preached from his heart and told us the truth straight between the eyes, and we all love him for that. I do miss him very much, but it is consoling to think that he is still with us and apart of us in the Communion of Saints. And I wont be suprised to see many great blessings at St. Cyrils with his intercession.

Anonymous said...

I am not a member of St. Cyril's and Methodius, but I have attended weekday masses on occasion. I remember one of the first times I attended mass, Father Val assisted with the distribution of communion. Two of the very young altar servers were acting up a little in their pews at the time. After Mass I stayed to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, when I noticed Father Val come back to the steps before the altar with those two little altar servers. He gently placed his arm on their shoulders and pointed to the tabernacle and told them, "That is Jesus up there." I knew then what a deeply holy man this was. I have often though of Father John Hardon when I heard Father Val speak of his love of the Eucharist. They were two wonderful, holy priests. It is a sorrow for the loss of him, but also a joy for knowing he is with the One he loves so deeply.

vera lajcaj said...

i met fr. Val 4 years ago through Gina and i told him my problem. Fr. Val gave me advice i longed to hear. He prayed for my husband. Ever since then, my husband made a complete conversion. I love fr,Val. I will truly miss him. God has done great things for me through Fr. Val.

Anonymous said...

Fr Val was my childhood priest growing up in Traverse City at the Carmelite Monastary. He made an incredible impression on me, even at a young age and through my teen years. I will never forget the reverence with which he said Holy Mass! I always felt I could just look in eyes and feel the peace of Christ come over me. He had such energy and zeal, it was contagious! My now husband served as an altar boy for Fr. Val and so we both knew him well. Just a month ago we moved to the area and were able to see him at mass a few weeks ago at St. Cyrils. I feel very blessed to have seen him one last time. He will be missed greatly.

Elizabeth Tichvon said...

- A Meditation
Dust returns to earth as it once was, and the life breath returns to God who gave it.”(Ecclesiastes 12:7)

So many of us are feeling sad and maybe a bit vulnerable by the loss of Father Val from our lives. But God continues to offer us direction in the readings of the Mass, particularly in this verse taken from the poem on youth and old age in the book of Ecclesiastes, which teaches that death gives urgency to our lives, and remembering our mortality helps us realize we only have a short time to bring our lives to fulfillment.

Father Val taught us time and time again, that if we’re prepared to stand before our Lord, death shouldn’t trouble us - but it’s now, in this life, that we must confess our sins and forgive those who’ve hurt us. The only way to amend our lives, Father taught us, is to get to know our God. His simple but fervent prayer, “Lord, teach me to know you so I can love you” has brought about countless miracles in the hearts of perhaps thousands, many of whom he’s never even met.

The day Father died, he seemed to be asking our Lord for one last chance to teach us that prayer, since the psalm reading for that day was the confident prayer of forgiveness and guidance, “Teach me your paths . . . teach me, for you are God my Savior.” (Psalm 25:4-5).

Father’s life has been brought to fulfillment and now he’s returned with grace to the merciful God who gave him life. He is no longer with us in body, but if we listen quietly in the depths of our hearts, we might hear the impassioned words of a saint we knew, “How well do you know your God?”

Christine said...

I happened to know Fr. Val when he turned down a confessional hearing only to distribute communion at Mass two years ago. (I have started a habit of going to confession right before the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.) I was literally upset & even called my priest friend in California to complain. On the feast day, I had to drag myself out of bed at 5:00 AM in the morning to confession & 6:00 AM mass. Well, it was well worth my early get-up because I could not comment enough about his advice during a confession. Although I have been labeled a frequent churchgoer, nobody could tell my mind often wander far away from church while I was there. One morning during the 6:00 AM consecration, I started seeing the true Eucharist thru his hands and voices. From that day on, I long to attend his 6:00 AM masses more but I can’t. I often told my children about the holiness of “that old priest” & hope the image of a small-figure-but-big-heart priest will stay with them. Father Val, THANK YOU VERY MUCH for help teaching me what Consecration really means! Please pray for us in heaven to unceasingly imitate your ways to holiness!

John Maziarz said...

May God bless Fr.Val now and forever! As many have stated, he was a priest who changed many through his touching words of insight that led us to have a deeper sorrow and be aware of how much God loves us. We both shared the same Polish heritage. At times I would talk to him briefly in Polish. I always saw how joyful and peaceful he was. He loved little children and truly he could relate, since he is a faithful and humble child of God. Fr. Val please pray for us! He will continue to help even more now!
John Maziarz

Anonymous said...

I've known Fr. Val for a few years now...he had a great love for the Most Holy Trinity and our Blessed Mother, a great love for his vocation, and a great love for the people of God. He had a special way dealing with the young people of the parish and loved them dearly...his special little ones were the twins, I believe their names are Mary and Maria...they were always at his service, no matter what he asked for or needed, as if they were his guardian angels. I witnessed one of them crying at the foot of his casket during the instate...little do they know he is closer to them now then he ever was before. God Bless you Fr. Val and thank you for witnessing your love of God to his precious little ones throughout your entire life.

Magdalene said...

I have met Fr. Val several times because his brother, Fr. Jerome Rykowski, has been my confessor for the past 4 years. I have heard about his holy Mass but I did not have the privilege of witnessing him as principle celebrant because, in his humility, when he visited his brother, he always concelebrated.

But, oh, do I recall the homily he gave upon his brother's 50th anniversary of priesthood and it was directed-very pointedly-at the priests there in attendance. This holy priest of many years was not going to waste the opportunity to call them to greater faithfulness.

Yes, I heard his songs! And the way he would beg a person: Ask God to teach you to know Him so that you can love Him!

I last saw Fr. Val last May when I was visiting in Michigan and had a light breakfast with him. I saw how he was loved. His brother also is a holy priest who will die with his collar on but is not appreciated as widely as Fr. Val was. So many have so little understanding out there in the spiritual desert place.

I am grateful to have had the honor to know both Frs. Rykowski.

Marie said...

As I knelt before Fr. Val’s casket Monday night praying the ‘de Profundis’, the tears streamed down my face as I realized that I had just lost my best friend…Although I’ve known Fr. For 9 years now, this past year, the spiritual friendship was strengthened tremendously. It was Fr. Val who encouraged me to be holy and to live my life for God alone; it was his confessional which was always open, ready to absolve me of my sins and reassure my of God’s eternal love for me; it was Fr. Val who took me under his wings and showed me the way to the Thrice Holy God.

Once Fr. Started losing his health, he asked my twin sister and I to take care of him…little did we know that he was the one who would be taking care of us…he may have referred to us as his little angels, his faithful servants, yet he loved all and was at the service of all.
Before Fr. Died, he promised me that he would never forget about me…I hold fast to his promise and believe he is praying and interceding for all of us before God.

I thank God for the gift of Fr. Val’s life, I praise God for the gift of his vocation, I bless God for the gift of his fiat. And the day he becomes a Saint, I will praise and glorify God for His Goodness and Mercy.

Anonymous said...

anonymous Fr. Val was a great guy he will be missed deeply

Andy said...

Father Val was our parish Priest here in Wisconsin in the Milwaukee Diocese. He was who built St Columbkille church in Elba Township Wisconsin. He was our parish priest at Holy Family Parish in Reeseville. A devout and holy even venerable Priest, father Val was very close to my parents. My father moved father from Phillips Wisconsin to Houghton with one of our family's semi trucks. As a boy, I remember visiting Father at Phillips, and will never forget the Statue of Chist Scourged. While constructing St Columbkille Church, Father, who was deathly afraid of heights, stained the beams and inside wood at very great heighths as pennance.

He visited my mother while she was in the hospital in Beaver Dam after my birth, and wept at the fact that the sisters were no longer wearing full habit.

May he rest in peace.

Andy From Wisconsin