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!
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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!