Jan. 1, 2012
We got up before dawn and our group of about 20 people took a shuttle along with the Bishop to the Vatican. We were bound and determined to get a good seat and to be there early.
Paul, who is a longtime friend of the Bishop and his spiritual son and my prayer partner volunteered after much prayer, to escort the Bishop into the Vatican. The Bishop was going to sit with the other bishops but he had no ticket or any letter inviting him to the New Year’s Day Mass!
Those of us who dressed up in skirts and heels immediately regretted doing so because the cobblestones forcefully sent its cold through the soles of our shoes into our feet.
Bishop was given a chair to sit down upon while he waited on the security guard to grant him permission to come into the Vatican. He waited patiently and he only had a lite suit coat on under his vestments. His vestments were worn and frayed at the edges and his face had stubble on it because his electric razor wasn’t working very well. His hair was too long and needed to be brush down or cut. With his eyesight dimming and his hearing diminished he relied on others to lead him in total trust.
The only one at peace was the Bishop as he prayed silently and trusted that he would be allowed into the Vatican. After an hour sitting in the cold predawn some security guards came and escorted Paul and the Bishop in and I realized suddenly that I had the Bishop’s passport and his documents in my purse!!
I felt panicked at the thought that the Bishop would be turned away and there was nothing I could do because the crowd of people were now gathered so tightly and were moving forward towards the metal detectors again and there was no turning back. I felt sick to my stomach because I was in charge of keeping him organized and kept glancing back, but I did not see the Bishop or Paul.
As we got into the Vatican we raced towards the front so that we could be close to the area that the Bishops and Cardinals sat. I saw the bishop and Paul fifteen or twenty rows ahead but I could not just yell out Paul’s name in the hushed hall to tell him I had the bishop’s passport. The bishop was sitting down in a pew on the left near the aisle and Paul was seated at the other end of the pew on the right. Right under St. Paul the Apostle.
A security guard came up to the bishop and whispered something to him and I saw him checking his pockets and then he turned and stood up and walked towards Paul and he checked his own pockets. Paul then turned to the massive crowd and scanned it. I raised my arm and waved frantically. He saw me and I met him at the barrier and I handed him with great sighs of relief the Bishop’s passport but I later found out that the security guard had never asked Paul for his passport which was a true miracle because we had been told over and over again, the Vatican has very tight security.
The procession started and the place was packed for those with golden tickets to be there. I felt more than blessed.
The Holy Father Benedict XVI came down the aisle on an electric gurney preceded by the Cardinals and Bishops, altar servers and security personnel. He again looked weak as he gently waved to the crowds of people. The beautiful Mass progressed and we felt the divine energy of all the prayers rising up to God asking for mercy on the whole world. I looked at the back of the Bishop and saw him in his worn vestments with his head bowed down in prayer, not seeking attention but humbly making his presence known to God that he was there.
I looked around and thought to myself, “Many of those who are dressed in fancy clothes who have beautiful perfect vestments and who have powerful positions will look right past this humble Bishop and not know that he was a groundbreaker.”
He was a stedfast servant of Christ who tirelessly went against those who sought to compromise the teachings of the church.
In an article in the ‘Interim’ September 12, 1998, writer Donald DeMarco wrote, “In 1968 the “Winnipeg Statement,” while affirming the Church’s teaching in general, was widely interpreted as allowing contraception in certain circumstances. Critics argue it has led to the notion that an individual’s conscience can be a source of truth—an idea strongly opposed to Catholic doctrine. Conscience, just like a mirror, may reflect the truth, but it cannot create it. On July 29, 1998 Bishop Roman Danylak called on his fellow Canadian bishops to affirm Humanae vitae, and to retract their own controversial policy on the matter. Two bishops agreed to submit The Winnipeg Statement to the Holy See for evaluation. They were Bishop Basil Filevich, Eparch emeritus of Saskatoon (Ukrainian) and Bishop Roman Danylak, then Apostolic Administrator of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto. While traditional Catholics in Canada have been calling for the retraction of the Winnipeg Statement for years, Bishop Danylak’s action marks the first time a concerted, public effort has been made to address the problem. It is also the first time a bishop has admitted frankly that the policy has created a great deal of confusion in the Church.”
Rev. Msgr. Vincent Foy, former Officialis, Toronto Tribunal in the article “An Historical Note on the Winnipeg Statement” posted on April 10, 2014 and published originally June, 2008, Catholic Insight, and republished on Lifesitenews.com said,
“In reply to this plea, only two bishops agreed to submit The Winnipeg Statement to the Holy See for evaluation. They were Bishop Basil Filevich, Eparch emeritus of Saskatoon (Ukrainian) and Bishop Roman Danylak, then Apostolic Administrator of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto. Because no Latin Rite bishop agreed to the procedure, I let the matter drop.”
As a young priest Danylak refused to sign the letter that went against Pope Paul VI’s document Humane vitae that basically said, “I will not teach this encyclical.” He was one of two priests who stood against bishops and peers. He was marked for persecution and derailed in his endeavors from then on. But our Blessed Mother took him to her heart. His love for her never wavered and his love for Christ and His tumultuous Church was always worth defending. So much so, that our Lord deemed to take him home with him on Oct 7th 2012 –just ten months after our pilgrimage. It was the feast of Lepanto; the well known battle that pitted a faith-filled Pope against a huge Navy of the Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras. It was the largest Navy battle in Western history since classical antiquity. It was the a defense of Christendom against Muslim invasions of Europe.
The only time I ever heard the bishop raise his soft voice is when I naively asked him, “Bishop, if we win in the end, why do we have to work so hard and battle so much?” Obviously I had no idea at the time what I was saying…It hit a nerve because he sternly replied, “We must NEVER stop working for the good of humanity with heaven as our goal! There are to many lazy people! To many lukewarm people! There are so many souls to save! If not you, then who will save them? Christ and our Lady are counting on you! “
He gave expert spiritual direction to his spiritual children with kindness and stressed courage and obedience and humility above all. His love for our Lady drew many people who were receiving apparitions and locutions to him for direction and discernment. His tiny apartment became a prayer haven and a meeting place for those who sought to ask questions without judgement or condemnation. He offered the Divine Liturgy every day and people stopped by just to go to confession and give him a sweet roll or a half dozen eggs. He loved listening and was so acute that he could recall even years later, conversations from people he had only met once. As a Canon lawyer Bishop Danylak was a brave and humble shepherd of the Church firmly loyal to the authentic Catholic Faith. He was fearlessly supportive of the Blessed Mother’s work in Naju, Korea. Giving testimony to the Vatican as the first to witness the Eucharistic miracles there. He fought against injustices especially when dealing with high powered officials with fasting and prayer. His defense of Maria Valtorta and her holiness and the authenticity of her writings drew sharp criticism from Fr. Mitch Pacwa of EWTN who discounted them as nothing but personal writings; not of supernatural origin, even though our Lady Queen of Peace of Medjugorje even spoke of them. He used to give as a penance in confession pages of Maria’s books, the volumes of Poem of the Man God with the scriptural notations and the suggestion to read both and to go deeper into the life of Jesus and Mary. Now that Maria’s cause has gone forward to the Congregation of the Saints hopefully she will be acknowledged for her heroic suffering for Christ and her extraordinary gifts. Visionaries came from all over the world to visit with him. He traveled extensively with Josyp Terelya after he was released from prison after 22 years in the Russian gulags. He translated for him and sent his locutions and visions to the Vatican. Josyp met with Pope John Paul II eighteen times and had Benedict XVI on speed-dial.
As Pope Benedict XVI processed out of the Vatican and behind him the princes’ of the Church followed. I watched the Bishop still sitting in his chair, head bent in fatigue and prayerfulness giving thanksgiving to God for bringing him to this event and the beginning of this new year.
Paul went over and the bishop stood up and took his arm and as we all met up we walked out of the Vatican together and we smiled and laughed out loud. So much so, we got looks from the guards. As we got out the doors to my surprise there were thousands of people in Vatican square waiting for the Pope to give his New Year greeting to the world! I was thrilled and as the crowd was cheering we waved like we knew we belonged there. I walked down the steps to join the throngs of people and I felt this would be the last time I visited the Vatican.