STAMFORD, Conn. – On May 25 clergy and religious of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford and close friends, including Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak and Bishop Paul Chomnycky, OSBM, gathered in St. Basil Seminary to celebrate the golden anniversary of the consecration of Bishop Basil H. Losten. On that day, 50 years ago, Msgr. Basil H. Losten was elevated to the episcopacy through the imposition of hands by Metropolitan-Archbishop Ambrose Senyshyn of Philadelphia (1961-1977).
The event commenced with the moleben service of thanksgiving to the Mother of God concelebrated by Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys, Bishop Paul, and presided by Bishop Emeritus Basil.
In his homily, Bishop Paul recalled the major events in the history of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the second half of the 20th century.
“And the most important thing to realize is that Bishop Basil didn’t just witness all these things, all this phenomenal growth; he played an integral role in their realization,” Bishop Paul said.
In concluding his address, Bishop Paul invited the attendees to continue their prayers for Bishop Basil.
“So, our prayer for you today, dear Bishop Basil, as you celebrate the 50th anniversary of your episcopal ordination, is that the same holy spirit that descended upon the apostles in the upper room in Jerusalem and strengthened and inspired them to heroic acts of witness for Jesus, would also continue to inspire and strengthen you to fulfill anything that God, in his providence, has yet to realize in your life. And may the most holy mother of God, whose faithful son you are and have always been, embrace you, cover you, and always protect you under her powerful Omophor,” Bishop Paul said.
After the moleben service, Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys greeted the jubilarian and in the name of the head of the Church and the Synod thanked Bishop Basil for his dedicated service to the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
“Your efforts and work with international journalists brought the story of our Church to the attention of the globe just as it needed support as it came out from the underground,” Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys said.
A celebratory luncheon was held in the main auditorium. Msgr. John Terlecky, a long-time friend and a co-worker of Bishop Basil, masterfully led the program which included reminiscences by several clergy ordained by the bishop.
During his toast to Bishop Basil, Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys recalled some of the major accomplishments of the jubilarian over his five decades of service:
“Bishop Basil makes us proud! In the 1960s and 1970s Bishop Basil spearheaded the construction of 240 apartments extending hospitality to hundreds of low-income Ukrainian, African, Asian and Latino American senior citizens – in fact, to all seniors in need. Today, as the country struggles to bring harmony among peoples and races, the Ascension Manor towers are a shining witness to how our Ukrainian Catholic community, in a Christ-like manner, extends a hand to our surroundings and offers hospitality and serves the needy and minorities in our neighborhoods.
“Bishop Basil shared the good news about God’s graces in our Church, past and present! During the 1980s Bishop Basil led a campaign to bring the plight of the underground Church in Ukraine to the attention of the nation and the world. The 1988 celebration of the Millennium of Christianity in Ukraine was brought to a broad global audience.
Bishops Basil’s leadership was seminal for these efforts. Millions of visitors to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome for centuries will bow and pray before the mosaic icons of Ss. Volodymyr and Olha that Bishop Basil sponsored.
“Bishop Basil led us into the future! Bishop Basil helped our Church in Ukraine get off its knees in the 1990s and in the 2000s left the Stamford Eparchy with a strong, youthful presbyterate, the most diverse in our Church. The [Stamford] Eparchy and St. Basil’s Seminary continue to thrive.”
At the celebration, special letters of greetings from Pope Francis and Major-Archbishop Sviatoslav, head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC), were read.
Patriarch Sviatoslav, personally and on behalf of the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC, congratulated Bishop Emeritus Basil on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his episcopal ordination.
“The celebration of your jubilee is for all of us a sign of God’s great blessing, which through your ministry, like anointing oil, flows to the God-loving people of our Church,” the authors of the letter wrote.
“For hundreds of thousands of the faithful, you have become a good father, a zealous preacher of the truth of Christ. Thanks to the cooperation with the laity, you managed to carry out a number of important projects, one of the largest of which was the opening of St. Olha’s Chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, which marked the unchanging unity of our Church with the Apostolic See,” the letter continued.
“All this testifies to you as a man of great faith, who sincerely cares for the development of our Church,” concluded Patriarch Sviatoslav, who wished the merciful Lord to thank the bishop for his grace and accept his gift of service.
The Rev. Edward Young, one of the priests ordained by Bishop Basil, shared some stories about his life and years of service. Additionally, young priests who came from Ukraine and other countries to serve the Stamford Eparchy shared their words of appreciation and gratitude.
At the conclusion of the luncheon, Bishop Basil thanked all who prepared the event in his honor as well as those who throughout the years have helped him to lead the eparchy and urged everyone, especially the clergy, “Remember, we are here to serve!”
The Very Rev. Bohdan Tymchyshyn, a former seminarian whom Bishop Basil invited to study in the Eparchy of Stamford over 20 years ago, and who is currently the rector of St. Basil Seminary, offered a concluding greeting and prayer.
Bishop Basil was born on May 11, 1930, in Chesapeake, Md. His priestly ordination took place on June 10, 1957. Ordination was by Metropolitan-Archbishop Kostiantyn Bohachevsky of Philadelphia.
On May 25, 1971, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Philadelphia (USA), the Rev. Basil was consecrated a bishop by Metropolitan-Archbishop Ambrose Senyshyn.
Sources: Stamforddio.org; ukrarcheparchy.us, with reporting by Deacon Volodymyr Radko; and the Information Department of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.