Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
34 years ago today my father, Roman, reposed in the Lord.
He loved beekeeping and went to seminary at L'viv where he was interviewed by the Venerable Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky who said to him, as dad related to me, "You, Roman, would be a good priest but I see in your eyes that you want to get married (and pursue a secular career)." Dad was directly related to the good Metropolitan and his grandfather Leo was the Metropolitan's caretaker of his summer Carpathian residence. His father, Fr. John, was ordained by Metropolitan Andrew.
Dad completed his engineering studies and later, in Canada, his diploma in town planning at the University of Toronto. He worked as a planner for the provincial government until his retirement in 1983. He managed a beekeeping business involving about one thousand hives and just loved being among the buzzing fellows.
When he died, I remember how bees began to collect inside our city home (this never happened before). When we placed his wooden Cross grave-marker in his main bee-yard/apiary, the bees began to light on it and soon, much to our amazement and awe, they formed a cross of bees. It was as if they remembered their friend and companion in their own mystical way . . .
As I was terrified of being stung, he would tell me that the bee's stinger is only something like 0.237 of an inch long - the other two feet were in my imagination . . .
While a teenager, dad contracted the cholera and was already half-dead when my grandparents' Polish neighbour told them about St Roch of Montpellier, the patron against pestilential disease. She and my grandparents knelt beside dad as he was lying motionless in bed to invoke St Roch's intercession. My grandmother, Presbytera Irina, told me that she felt the warmth return to dad's hand during the half-hour or so that they prayed over him.
He always honoured St Roch as his special protector from then on - as he did the North American Jesuit Martyrs since his first bee-farm was on land that once formed part of the first Jesuit mission in Huronia - the mission of St Nicolas. And St Nicholas parish was our parish, the same parish where the movie, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was filmed