|The Eparchy of Parma|
Simultaneously with the elevation of the Byzantine Catholic Church in the United States to the status of an ecclesiastical province, the Holy See issued a decree known as “Christi Ecclesia.” In this decree, the Vatican announced its intention to create a third diocese for the American Byzantine Church.
According to the papal decree, the large territorial expanse of the former Pittsburgh Eparchy would be considerably reduced in size. The new Pittsburgh Archeparchy would now cover the following area: the western half of Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and all of the states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. From the remaining portion of the old Pittsburgh Eparchy, a new diocese covering the mid-west and western portions of the country was established. To head this new suffragan eparchy, which was centered in Parma, Ohio, Pope Paul VI named the Chancellor of the Passaic Eparchy, Father Emil Mihalik.
Father Emil Mihalik was born in Pittsburgh on February 7, 1920. After receiving his high school education in his hometown of Brentwood, Pennsylvania, a small suburban community south of Pittsburgh, the future bishop pursued his philosophical and theological studies at St. Procopius College and its Benedictine Seminary. On September 30, 1945, Emil Mihalik was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Basil Takach.
Father Mihalik served as a priest in a number of parishes throughout the Pittsburgh Exarchate. At the time of the creation of the Passaic Eparchy, he was the pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish where he was instrumental in the construction of a modern Byzantine style church and a new parish center.
With the formation of the new diocese, Father Mihalik was given a number of administrative duties in addition to his pastoral responsibilities. These administrative duties included Director of Vocations, membership on the Matrimonial Tribunal, Diocesan Consultor and finally Chancellor of the Eparchy. Archbishop Stephen Kocisko consecrated Father Mihalik as a bishop at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Parma and installed him as the head of the new diocese on June 12, 1969.
Bishop Mihalik’s initial task as bishop was the creation of the boards, commissions and structure necessary to administer the affairs of the new Parma Eparchy. To facilitate this effort, the bishop convened an eparchial council in the spring of 1970. Under Bishop Mihalik’s leadership, formal offices for religious education and youth ministry were established. In later years, other worthwhile eparchial programs such as the secular Franciscans, Marriage Encounter, Pre-Cana, the Apostolate of St. Nicholas and Youth Singles Ministry were implemented.
To improve communication within the Eparchy, Bishop Mihalik announced the creation of a diocesan newsletter. This newsletter, named “Horizons,” subsequently was upgraded and converted into an independent newspaper.
The increased movement of Byzantine Rite Catholic to different areas of the country created an urgent need to establish new parishes, particularly in the western portions of the United States. Bishop Mihalik responded vigorously to this challenge. Soon, parishes and missions were started in such places as Anaheim, California, Denver, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio, Dayton, Ohio, Brunswick, Ohio, Tucson, Arizona, Spokane, Washington, Sugar Creek, Missouri, Indianapolis, Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada. It was the foresight of Bishop Mihalik which eventually lead to the creation of a separate Byzantine Catholic diocese in 1982 to cover the parishes located in the western United States.
Bishop Mihalik’s episcopate also saw the introduction of a new religious order into the Parma Eparchy. Soon after assuming his episcopal duties, Bishop Mihalik asked the Order of Poor Clares to come to Parma and establish a Byzantine Foundation of their order. This invitation was accepted and the sisters eventually established a monastery in North Royalton, Ohio in the mid-1970's.
Unfortunately, Bishop Mihalik’s zealous pastoral work for the Parma Eparchy were cut short when it was discovered that the bishop had terminal lung cancer. Bishop Mihalik died on January 27, 1984, less than two weeks before he would celebrate his sixty-fourth birthday.
On June 19, 1984, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II appointed a new bishop to succeed the late Bishop Mihalik. The pope’s choice to serve as the second bishop of Parma was the Most Reverend Andrew Pataki, the auxiliary bishop of the Passaic Eparchy.
Born in Palmerton, Pennsylvania on August 10, 1927, Andrew Pataki began his formation for the priesthood at St. Procopius College and continued his theological studies at the newly opened Ss. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary. On February 24, 1952, Bishop Daniel Ivancho ordained him to the priesthood.
After eighteen years of service as a parish priest, Father Pataki was sent to Rome in 1970 to pursue studies in canon law. Upon his return from Rome in 1972, Father Pataki was appointed as the Rector of the Seminary and professor of canon law. In addition, he was named to Papal Commission for the revision of canon law for the Eastern Catholic Churches. In 1974, he was named a papal prelate with the title of Monsignor.
While serving as Chancellor of the Pittsburgh Archeparchy and as pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Weirton, West Virginia, Monsignor Pataki was named by Pope John Paul II as Auxiliary Bishop of Passaic on May 30, 1983. Monsignor Pataki’s consecration as a bishop was held on August 23, 1983 at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Less than one year later, Bishop Pataki was named to succeed the late Bishop Emil Mihalik in Parma. On August 16, 1984, Bishop Pataki was formally installed as the second bishop of Parma.
Upon assuming responsibility for the stewardship of the Parma Eparchy, Bishop Pataki undertook a number of measures to improve the governance of the diocese and to advance the quality of religious life. Under the bishop’s direction and guidance, a second eparchial assembly was held and important new eparchial bodies such as the Presbyterial Council, Finance Council and Priests’ Pension Board were created. Bishop Pataki also promulgated a standardized form for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and revised Holy Week services. To improve congregational singing, a Cantors’ Institute with a faculty and an advisory board was created. Finally, educational videos on the Eastern Church and Byzantine Rite worship were produced by the Eparchy’s Office of Religious Education.
Bishop Pataki’s eleven year tenure as the bishop of Parma ended on February 8, 1996 when he was installed as the new bishop of the Eparchy of Passaic to succeed the retired Bishop Michael Dudick. With the departure of Bishop Pataki, Father David Hannes was selected by the Eparchial Board of Consultors as the temporary administrator of the Parma Eparchy. On May 2, 1996, the Holy See announced the selection of Father Basil Schott, the hegumen (chief abbot) of the Holy Dormition Byzantine Franciscan Monastery in Sybertsville, Pennsylvania to succeed Bishop Pataki in Parma.
Born on July 21, 1939 in Freeland, Pennsylvania, Myron Schott was educated in Catholic schools in Freeland and Hazleton, Pennsylvania. After his graduation from high school, young Myron Schott entered the Byzantine Franciscans in 1958. After his formal profession, whereupon he assumed the monastic name of Basil, he attended Immaculate Conception College in Troy, New York and St. Mary’s Seminary in Norwalk, Connecticut. Basil Schott was ordained as a priest by Bishop Stephen Kocisko on August 29, 1965.
Subsequent to his ordination, Father Schott held a number of administrative positions within the Byzantine Franciscan community. He also saw service as a chaplain to the Byzantine Nuns of St. Clare and the Byzantine Carmelite Nuns in Sugarloaf, Pennsylvania and as teacher of religion in several Catholic schools. In addition, he was actively involved in giving retreats, workshops and renewal programs for clergy, religious and parishes throughout the United States.
On July 11, 1996, Father Schott was consecrated and installed as the third bishop of Parma. Since his episcopal consecration, Bishop Schott has faithfully ministered to the needs of the faithful of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma and continues to build upon the firm foundation of faith constructed by his predecessors.