Epiphany of our LordBy Fr. Gary Spencer
Epiphany, or the visitation of the Magi, is celebrated to reinforce certain beliefs we as Christians hold: the belief that Jesus is the King of Kings, and that Jesus is God who was made man to save us from our sins. The Magi, who are sometimes called kings or wise men, were astrologers who studied the nighttime sky. They were, more than likely, a combination of astrologer and astronomer, seeing as at the time they lived there were no strict astronomers. They studied the nighttime sky with all of its constellations and heavenly bodies, and based on the movements of the constellations and so forth, they would make predictions as to future events. Prior to the birth of Jesus these astrologers saw something very unique in the western sky, a very bright star, which they interpreted as being a sign that a king was to be born. Not just any king, but the King of the Jews. Tradition has it that there were three Magi on this quest, but the Gospel does not really say how many Magi there truly were. But because there are three gifts mentioned in the Gospel, it was assumed that there were three Magi. Whether there were two, three, or three hundred Magi is not what matters. What matters is that these wise men believed that there was a king being born in the west and were compelled to seek him out.
The Magi finally do find the Baby King they were seeking, and when they do, the Gospel says that they prostrated themselves to pay this King homage. Now what’s interesting here is that prior to finding baby Jesus, the Magi encountered another king; king Herod. Yet nowhere in the Gospel does it say that they prostrated themselves before king Herod, so this type of tribute should not be taken as paying homage to a king. No, these wise men saw something else on that day in Bethlehem that caused them to prostrate themselves before this babe, and what they saw was a God.
The gifts the Magi brought were also unique as they seem to be tailor made for God the Son. The gifts were: Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold, obviously, is a gift fit for a king, and Jesus is the King of Kings. Frankincense was used as incense, and incense was used by the Jews to carry their prayers to heaven. So this gift represents the divinity of Christ. Myrrh, however, was used kind of as an embalming substance that masked the smell as the corpse decayed in the tomb, so how did this fit? Well, somehow these Magi knew that this baby’s death was going to be an important event, an event that would change the world, and so myrrh was a most appropriate gift.
Another intriguing thing about the Magi is; Can you imagine traveling hundreds of miles on a camel or dromedary to see the baby Jesus. God somehow revealed to these astrologers the importance of this baby, and they just couldn’t help themselves.
What if you were told that God would be present in such and such a place at such and such a time. Would you make a trip to see Him with your own eyes. Would you travel hundreds of miles to see Him? Well, you don’t have to wonder if you would or would not travel any longer because I’m going to tell you an important fact: God the Son will be present right here in this Cathedral today and every day when Mass is celebrated. This, my friends, is an event of cosmic proportions, yet, where is everybody. Why isn’t this church packed wall to wall with people? How is it that some Magi, who were pagans, could travel hundreds of miles on camel-back to see the God-child, yet many Catholics won’t jump in their car and travel 5, 10, or even 20 miles to see God the Son at Holy Mass? This is baffling! Not only should we all be chomping at the bit to see Jesus, we should be telling everyone we know to come see Him also!
But you my sisters and brothers are pleasing to God. He sees you when you come to pay homage to Our Lord and He smiles. And, He knows what gifts you bear. No, I’m not talking about gold, frankincense and myrrh. I’m talking about gifts of love, peace, joy, forgiveness, and patience. I’m also talking about the gift of yourself. Participating in Mass and joining with Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Partaking of the “living bread” which feeds our souls and fills us with sanctifying grace – the kind of grace necessary to attain the kingdom of heaven.
This week, like the Wise Men, let us bring Jesus our gift. As I said, yours might be joy or love, or peace or patience. Then, you need to share this gift with someone in your family, your circle of friends, or someone in your workplace. Share with them also the news that God is present, Body Blood, Soul and Divinity, right here at Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral, or any of our parishes, and tell them He would be very pleased if they came to see Him for themselves. The wise men came in humility and left encouraged and full of hope. We can expect no less when we bring Jesus our gift: and that gift is the gift of ourselves.
Humble Shepherds ReflectionsBy Fr. Gary Spencer
Sunday’s Gospel reading was a continuation of the Gospel we heard at mid-night Mass. How the angel of the Lord came to some lowly shepherds tending their flocks in the still of the night and told them of the birth of a Savior in the little town of Bethlehem, Christ the Lord.
It is astounding that God didn’t first proclaim the Wondrous news of the birth of the Messiah, or the Christ in Greek, to the noble class of the day; to the kings, princes, land barrens, or the Sanhedrin. But then, God knows everything, and He knew what was best for His Son. After all, when King Herod heard about the birth he ordered that all male children under the age of two years be put to death. You see, God knows people, and He knows that people can be jealous and egocentric, so instead of the rich and famous hearing the news first, it was the ordinary people. It was people who were on the bottom rung of society; the Humble Shepherds. These were people who lived off the land, and slept with animals, just like baby Jesus was doing. Men and women who sought out the babe in swaddling clothes sleeping in a manger, and when they found Him they fell on their knees and praised and adored Him. A sweet, tender little baby they found in seeming poverty sleeping in a manger instead of a crib, surrounded by his parents and farm animals that changed the shepherd’s lives. After finding the Babe they became, in addition to being shepherds, evangelists. St Luke writes: "The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.”
God chose these humble folk to not only be the first witnesses of the child that would save the world from its sin, but, as I stated, to become evangelists telling everyone they met about the Angel, the Angel’s message, and the fulfillment of that message in a stable in Bethlehem.
You know, most of us are like those shepherds. No! I don’t mean that we tend sheep and live outdoors. I mean we are just ordinary people living ordinary lives. Just the kind of people God uses to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
This is something we all can do, but here’s the thing. We have to go ahead and do it!
We have to tell our friends, workmates, and especially people we meet who are un-churched, de-churched, or never knew Jesus, about the blessings we have received from God, and what God means to us. We have to spread the Good News how Jesus, God the Son, died on the Cross so we might live forever, and tell them how Jesus is all about love. Tell everyone that Jesus is present in our Mass and wants more than anything to be in Communion with us. In addition to telling people about the teachings and commands of Jesus, there is another important thing we must do: we have to live the word we spread. We have to love God, love one another, always be ready to forgive offenses against us, and help the needy in any way we can. By doing these things we can set an example that will compel others to join our parish community – Christ’s parish community. Tradition has it that St. Francis once said, “Preach the gospel always, and when necessary, use words.”
So let us take a cue from the humble shepherds and glorify and praise God every day of our lives for all we have heard and seen, telling everybody what God has done for us. Happy New Year!
Good News of Great Joy! (Christmas Eve)By Fr. Gary Spencer
I have good news of great joy! Today a savior has been born! I see many of you are smiling. You’re smiling because you know the importance of this day, and you feel comfortable because you’re hearing this message from me, your pastor. But imagine if you were one of the shepherds out in the fields on a calm, starry night some two thousand years ago – nothing like tonight I might point out. But there you are tending your sheep herd with some of your fellow shepherds when all of a sudden an angel appears out of nowhere to proclaim a most wonderful message. I don’t know about you, but I probably would have been shaking in my sandals. Meeting face to face with a being from the Spirit world in the dead of the night I wonder if I would have froze, or ran. According to the scripture the Angel of God calmed the shepherd’s fears and then told them the Good News that a Savior has been born. Imagine this: So there you are; assured by the Angel that you are in no danger, and you are told about a baby born in Bethlehem who would save humanity from its sins. OK, so now in my mind I’m standing there out in the field feeling pretty good after hearing this joyful proclamation, when just as suddenly as the Angel appeared, there appears “a multitude of Heavenly Hosts with the Angel.” So not only does an angel appear to you, but then the whole night time sky probably lit up with this multitude of Heavenly Hosts praising God. It’s no wonder that when the shepherds finally locate the stable where the Savior was lying in a manger that they fell to their knees in prayer and adoration. I wonder what their lives where like from that moment on?
We are blessed, as Catholic Christians, to have Jesus physically with us, body, blood, soul, and divinity, in our tabernacles, and every time we celebrate Mass. Yet, I wonder how many of us actually believe He is truly with present? Remember, Jesus told us through the Gospels when he broke and blessed the bread and the cup He said, “This is my Body. This is my Blood. He didn’t say this is sort of like my body, and this is a symbol of my blood. No. He said this is my Body. This is my Blood. And, because Jesus is the truth, you can rest assured my sisters and brothers that He is truly here. And not only Him, but when we celebrate Mass the Angels and a multitude of Heavenly Hosts are here too. They are here right now because Jesus is here with us. But while they don’t manifest themselves visually to us, if we open our hearts to God’s love, we can feel their presence right here among us.
I have a request; an experiment, if you will. Please just close your eyes for a minute. Forget about whatever has been picking at your mind. Try to free yourself from all earthly cares. Now feel God’s love enveloping you. He’s here right now, and He loves you. Can you feel His presence? (OK, open your eyes.)
So let us join in with the multitude of Heavenly Hosts this night and give praise and glory to God! To God who sent His only begotten Son to suffer and die here on earth so we could attain the Kingdom of Heaven.
And let us pray: Thank you Lord for giving us this babe who was the only babe ever born to die. Born to save all the people of Faith. We thank the Blessed Mother Mary who said yes when the angel ask her to be the mother of our Lord, and who, as a frightened teenage girl, gave birth in a barn with only her husband and some animals to aid and comfort her. We thank St. Joseph who cared for, protected, and loved Jesus as his own. And we thank the angels and the multitude of heavenly hosts who are with us tonight to celebrate this monumental event – the birth of the Wonder-Counselor, the Prince of Peace, the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.
Third Sunday of Advent - Year CBy Fr. Gary Spencer
Last Sunday was the Third Sunday of Advent; also known as Gaudete Sunday. Today is a day to rejoice because we are half way through our time of preparation; our time when we prepare our hearts, souls, and lives to celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The Nativity is one of the two most wonderful miracles God performed for the salvation of humankind. The other miracle, of course, is the Resurrection of Our Lord after His crucifixion.
In the birth of Jesus, God came to be physically in our midst, as the prophet Zephaniah foretold. The Son of God became like us to give us an example as to how we should live, to give us knowledge of the Kingdom of God, to give us Hope for our salvation, and to give us Himself in the Holy Eucharist so He can be with us Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – physically present with us, and always patiently and lovingly waiting for us to be in Holy Communion with Him.
What’s really interesting in this reading from the prophet is that in addition to exhorting us to rejoice and shout for joy because God is with us, Zephaniah gives us an insight into the character…no, character is not the right word. The prophet gives us a picture of Our Lord that is quite unique. For the very most part God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are depicted as loving, wise, and rather stoic. Normally we don’t think of God as light hearted and the life of the party. Yet, Zephaniah prophesizes that God is in our midst and will rejoice over us with gladness, and will renew us in His love, AND He will sing joyfully because of us as one would sing at a festival!
How often I ask you, have you, in your mind’s eye pictured Jesus singing out a joyful song because He is happy with us. I would venture a guess that quite possibly none of us pictured God the Son in this manner.
When Jesus walked this earth He was just like us in every way, except He was without sin. So maybe, even though it is not recorded in the New Testament, Jesus liked to sing. After all, in Jewish tradition there are many songs, chants, and even dances that are incorporated in their religion.
Also, look how many prophesies were fulfilled by Jesus. Maybe the foretelling of God singing was also fulfilled by Jesus. After all, John tells us that Jesus did so many things there is not room enough in all the books in the world to record it all.
My friends, if God, who is King of the entire universe, can rejoice and even sing joyfully because of us, then we can certainly and surely rejoice, be glad, sing out, and let our hearts race in anticipation of Christmas.
Please don’t be shy about singing out while at Mass today, or any Sunday for that matter. Sing out loud and strong and with joy in your heart, because you will be singing about the greatest gift ever given to humankind, Jesus, who was born in a stable 2,000 years ago.
If you feel uncertain about singing out ask Jesus to help you when you are in Holy Communion with Him. He might just send His Spirit to take away your inhibitions, and in its place fill you with confidence and joy!
So on this Gaudete Sunday, and every Sunday at Mass, sing out joyfully to the Lord with enthusiasm and confidence. It will lift your spirits and be pleasing to God as well.
First Sunday of Advent33th Sunday in Ordinary T
Advent is an exciting time in the church. The word Advent comes from the Latin word, advenio, and it means to come to, or the coming, and during Advent we are supposed to prepare ourselves for the coming of the anniversary of the birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and to prepare ourselves for His second coming as well.
In today’s first reading the prophet Jeremiah is prophesizing an advent similar to the Advent that most of us think of when we think of Advent. Jeremiah is telling the people of Israel and Judah that God will raise up “a just shoot” who will do what is right for His people. And, of course, that “Just Shoot” is Jesus. God fulfills that promise on a silent night in Bethlehem about 2000 yrs ago when baby Jesus was born of a virgin. We call that day Christmas.
Yes, Christmas is coming, so how do we prepare? Well, when we look around what is it that we see? What is it that we hear? We see snow men and candy canes; we see Santa and his reindeer; images of elves working in Santa’s workshop at the North Pole; Christmas trees; O yes, and every so often we see a Nativity scene. And what do we hear? The words of Christmas songs and carols such as: Chestnuts roasting on an open fire; Let it snow…; Rocking around the Christmas tree; Rudolf the red nosed reindeer; I saw mama kissing Santa Claus; and, every so often we hear Silent Night; O Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; and the Little Drummer Boy. Overall, this time of the year is an Advent, but unfortunately, more people are interested in Santa Claus coming to town than in celebrating Jesus coming to that little town of Bethlehem.
The Gospel reading has to do with the second coming of Jesus, and in it Our Lord tells us that the end of the world as it is presently known is coming and that we should be prepared for it. It will be a time of great disasters, and Jesus even tells us that some people will die from fright in anticipation of this terrible time. But, He is also telling us not to be afraid. He tells us to hold our heads up high because our redemption is on the way. When you follow Jesus, my sisters and brothers, there is nothing to fear because Jesus is the Way, and He will never lead us into danger.
If we keep on doing what we are doing now – if we celebrate the sacrifice of Mass, receive the sacraments, love God and neighbor, and try to live according to Christ’s teachings, then we can wait with joyful anticipation for the Second Coming, instead of with fear and trembling.
The problem is that so many people are turning away from God. I keep trying to figure out why it is that more and more people are turning away from God and the only thing I can figure is that when people are doing OK, when they have just about everything they need, then it is easy to forget about God - who gives us everything we have. The nation is doing pretty darn well right now economically. Reportedly, the nation’s unemployment is at an all time low. The parking lots at the McKinley Mall and the Galleria Mall, and many area restaurants, are full, and church pews are empty. Hey, we only need to call on God when we need His help, right? So, why bother paying God homage by celebrating with a priest the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We can make the Lord’s path straight later.
During this time of Advent I encourage you all to pray often, especially through community prayer at Mass, thanking God for the gift of His Son, asking God to help you keep your priorities straight, and to enlighten the minds and hearts of people everywhere to look beyond the material world and to see who is the true source of all that is good in the world. The more often we pray and receive the sacraments, the closer we become to God, and the closer we are to God the easier it is for us to see that there is more to Christmas than Santa Claus, pretty lights, and giving presents to each other. That God loves us and wants us to live in a perfect state of being with Him for ever.
During Advent, instead of preparing for Santa Claus coming to town, let us all prepare ourselves to worthily celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, Our Savior; to prepare our souls as fitting abodes for Jesus coming to us in Holy Communion; and through God’s grace, to make ourselves ready for His final coming as Judge, at our death, and at the end of the world. It is truly a time to rejoice, for Jesus came into the world to save us from death, He is with us now, in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, and He will come again to bring us to a perfect life in the New Jerusalem.
33rd Sunday in Ordinary TimeBy Fr. Gary Spencer
In two weeks, with the coming of Advent, we begin a new Liturgical year – year C in the readings. And with the end of the liturgical year the readings remind us of the end of time as we know it.
You know, many people throughout history have predicted the end of the world, and, of course, all have been wrong. I remember a time about a decade ago when the false profits were saying that the end of the world would occur on December 21, 2012 because one of the Mayan calendars ends on that date. Remember that? The calendar referred to is known as the Mayan long cycle calendar, one of many Mayan calendars, and it did end on the winter solstice in the year 2012, yet, here we are! Archeologists say that the Mayans never had any apocalyptic theories or predictions, and that people who don’t know anything about this ancient culture are just speculating and fanaticizing.
There was also a Bible Scholar who stated that the rapture would occur on May 21st a few years back. Then when it didn’t happen he stated that he recalculated and that the rapture would occur on October 11th. When that didn’t happen he went into hiding.
And speaking of the Rapture, this hypotheses about all the good people being taken from earth up to heaven, and all the bad people being left behind to suffer a very long period of tribulation before Jesus comes again, is only about 170 years old and is not a part of Catholic teaching. I will comment more about this at a later date.
It seems like everyone has figured out when the end of time will occur, yet they all seem to forget the words of Jesus concerning the end times in today’s Gospel reading that says, “But of the day and the hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” The end of time is coming. We know this because Jesus told us so. But we cannot go about our lives worried about when this will happen. What we do have to do is live our lives as Jesus has taught us. We have to concentrate on spreading God’s love and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and if we are going to worry, we need to worry about all the people who do not know The Word of God, Jesus Christ, or those who have turned their backs to Him. Because when we do the will of God we never have to worry about the end times.
In the Book of Daniel we are told that those who are wise, that is, those who are righteous, and those who turn others to God will shine like the stars when the end comes. And Jesus tells us that He will send out His angels to gather His elect, His followers, when the end time comes, so you see, if we live right and do as Jesus teaches we will not have anything to worry about when that final hour comes.
As this liturgical year comes to an end let us not fear the end times, but live with joy and love knowing that we are under God’s protection. We need only to love God and neighbor, receive the sacraments, and try our best to make disciples out of those we encounter who need God in their lives. That is the way to salvation, the way to peace of mind, and the way to peace on earth.
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Give it your all to God!)By Fr. Gary Spencer
Did you ever give everything you’ve got? Some how, some way in your life, did you ever give all you had? So many times the examples we see of giving it your all ends up being a competition of sorts. And it seems to be the person who is not expected to succeed who gives it her or his all that beats the odds. But these two women we heard about today truly gave their all and were generous way beyond what many of us can comprehend today.
The woman who encountered Elijah was totally distressed about her son’s and her impending death by starvation and dehydration, yet she was willing to help the prophet out by getting him a glass of water. This, mind you, was during the time of a famine. No dew or rain fell in the land of Israel in Samaria for so long that people were dying.
The woman in the Gospel reading gave everything she had financially, and her gift too may have been the difference between living and dying. For two copper coins she could probably have purchased enough flour and oil to last her for days. But, she wasn’t thinking of herself. She was making a money offering to God, giving everything she had to the Temple treasury.
We hardly ever see anyone really giving everything they have now a days, except in some sort of competition as I mentioned earlier. We all have survival instincts, so we tend to hold back “just in case.” Yes, we all have survival instincts and having them is generally a good thing, but we have to control our instincts so that we make the right decisions. By that I mean that we should examine our whole existence, not just the time we spend in our physical bodies, and we must think about our eternal souls. If we want to spend eternity in paradise then we have to learn to give our all to God!
This doesn’t mean selling our house or our car in order to make a money offering to God. God understands that we need a place to live if we are going to do His work. But, God does want us to give our all in terms of loving Him and helping our neighbor. As I stated last week, we attain heaven by the grace of God and the grace of God alone, yet Jesus tells us that at the judgment we will be separated into two groups: those that did the Corporal Works of Mercy, and those who didn’t. So we all need to help our neighbors to enter through those Pearly Gates. We cannot just claim to be “Good Christians” without doing the Corporal Works of Mercy! We cannot hate, distrust, and shun those in need of help, but rather, we must try our best to love everyone; even our enemies.
So we are invited to be generous today. We recognize that the measure with which we give is the measure we shall receive. Only if we forgive others will we be forgiven. Only if we love others will we be loved. And we can love others because we know that we are first loved by our God, loved in Jesus Christ and loved in the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us give thanks to the Lord!
31st Sunday in Ordinary TimeBy Fr. Gary Spencer
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” These, Jesus’ commandments of love, are taken from the Gospel of St. Mark.
As Christians our goal, ultimately, is to get to heaven; and so most Christians strive to achieve this goal. Let us all keep in mind, however, that we get to heaven one-way and one-way alone: By the grace of God. God’s grace is a free gift to us and is not something that we can earn. But, Jesus tells us through the Gospels that we can get near the kingdom of God by having faith, and by understanding His teachings and following them.
In a nutshell, Jesus teaches us that we must love God with everything we’ve got, and love all of our sisters and brothers here on earth. We must feast on the Lamb of God, we must seek forgiveness from our sins, and we must do corporal works of mercy.
These two commandments of love we heard in today’s gospel are proof that God loves us and wants us to be with Him in Heaven. But these commandments are also proof that God wants us all to get along!
I was just reading some thoughts about loving God by a Benedictine Monk who said that loving God is both hard and easy. He said that loving God is hard because God is not with us, not present, in a way that the person right next to you is. Physically present as Jesus was to the Apostles. So, due to an out of sight; out of mind type of thing our love for God is dampened down. The monk then turns around and says that it is easy to love God because He is not here, in our sight, telling us how we should love Him, so we can love Him more innocently, like a child faithfully loves God.
Isn’t it harder though, to love our neighbor than to love God? Jesus tells us that everyone we come into contact with is our neighbor, but so many people are so different from us. They’re not like us. It’s hard to like people who are different from us, let alone love them. Yet, this is what Jesus teaches us, and wants us to do.
We can do what Jesus teaches us to do because love is infectious. If we can expose people we meet to love, brotherly and sisterly love, they will catch it too, and there are a lot of ways to spread love. Just being courteous to others is one way. Trying never to be negative when we speak to others is another. Helping anyone in need is another. Encouraging someone when they are unsure, or praying with someone who needs God’s help are some of the ways we can spread love to our neighbors. We also have to stop thinking that because someone is different from us that we must distrust or suspect them. We have to stop thinking that way because distrust and suspicion breed fear, and when people are full of fear they forget about God, and the love of Christ.
If we all allow Christ’s love to flow from us to everyone we meet we will be united by His love to one another because that same love will be our “common good”.
I have this book at home with saying from kids on how to live our lives, and one of these sayings really struck home. It was said by a young lady named Christina, age 10. She said, “Just because God makes us different doesn’t mean He wants us to fight about it.” Boy, out of the mouth of babes.
So, my sisters and brothers, Jesus calls us to love God and love our neighbor. Let’s listen to Him, and in listening to Him only good things can happen. Who knows, by the power of God’s love we might even change the world.
"Joyfully Remembered, Already Missed!"Bishop Thaddeus Peplowski 1936 - 2018
The Right Rev. Thaddeus S. Peplowski, Bishop Emeritus of the Buffalo-Pittsburgh Diocese of the Polish National Catholic Church, died Friday in the Macauley Residence, Town of Tonawanda, after nine months of declining health. He was 81
Bishop Peplowski was born on Nov. 4, 1936, in Albany, the son of Joseph and Sophia (Zalenski) Peplowski, and baptized in the Polish National Catholic Church. As a youth, he received his Catholic education at Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in Albany and his formal education in the Albany public education system.
He entered the Savonarola Theological Seminary, in Scranton, PA, in September 1954, and completed a four year course of study. He was ordained to priesthood on May 15, 1958 by Most Rev. Leon Grochowski. His first assignment was, ironically, at the parish he is serving presently, the Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral, which he served for nine years. Of his first assignment in Buffalo he stressed involvement with the youth of the parish, and organized a strong Youth Club of whom members are still very active in the parish.
After leaving Buffalo he was assigned to All Saints Parish in Rome, New York and St. Joseph Parish in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, until 1971. After those assignments he organized the St. Barbara Parish in Houtzdale, PA, and stayed there until 1990 when he was assigned to the Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral in Buffalo which he served until his retirement in 2012.
He was elevated to the office of Monsignor (Senior Priest) in July 1982 by Most Rev. John Swantek and served as the dean of the Central Deanery of the Buffalo-Pittsburgh Diocese. He was elected a bishop of the Polish National Catholic Church at the 19th General Synod of the Polish National Catholic Church in Toronto, Canada. On Nov. 30, 1995 he was consecrated bishop by Most Rev. John Swantek, and installed as Ordinary of the Buffalo-Pittsburgh diocese on the same day at Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral.
During his time as priest and bishop, he was responsible in organizing several parishes that include St. Stephen the Martyr Parish in Canada in 1969, St. Barbara Parish in Houtzdale in 1970, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Lilly, PA, in 1995. Later he organized St. Martin & Rose Parish and Annunciation Parish, both in San Antonio, TX, St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mesa, AZ, Transfiguration Parish in Mt. Pleasant, PA, in 2003, Our Lady of Good Health in Dallas, TX, and St. Anne Parish in New Millport, PA, with the last two in 2008.
He has performed mission work at St. Thomas Mission in Tyrone, PA, Blessed Sacrament Mission in Fayetteville, NC, St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Denver, CO, and Holy Cross Mission in Pe Ell, WA. Mission work was also performed in North and South Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Canada. Mission work over ten years was done with the Nordic Catholic Church which had eight parishes in Norway where he served as its Missionary Bishop.
He instituted many items of importance, that exist to this day, such as the National Youth Convocations, first held in Buffalo in 1964, Altar Boy Retreats, Diocesan Basketball Tournaments, Youth Tours to Poland where he served four times as Youth Chaplain, the Diocesan Holy Mount Retreat Program, and helped to establish the bi-annual Music Workshop of the United Choirs of the PNCC.
His other activities in the Polish National Catholic Church are: representative in the Old/Orthodox Dialogue Commission, which produced the book, “Road to Unity,” served for six years on the Dialogue Commission with the Roman Catholic Church, which produced “Journeying Together in Christ,” signed a Convenant agreement between the Buffalo Roman Catholic Diocese and the PNCC Buffalo-Pittsburgh Diocese with Bishop Edward Head, taught Liturgy for five years at the Savonarola Seminary, and authored a “Handbook on Liturgy” in 1981, for students and priests of the Polish National Catholic Church. He then was appointed to chair the PNCC/Orthodox Dialogue Commission.
He directed a Polish Cultural Program in Houtzdale which included weekly Polish language and pisanki classes. He directed Polish dance groups that performed in Buffalo, Cheektowaga, in Poland, in the State Education Building in Harrisburg, PA, and many other performances in New York State, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and at the rededication ceremony of the Statue of Liberty. While serving on the board of directors of the Polish National Union for eight years the Bishop Hodur Center was built, and a new office was constructed.
However his biggest achievement, as far as his present parishioners are concerned, was the building of the multi-million dollar cathedral complex, located on Broadway in Lancaster. His foresight, courage, guidance, and inspiration were essential to the successful completion of this project.
During his 50 years in the priesthood he has traveled extensively, and has visited Poland fourteen times, Holland, Germany, Italy on several occasions, Switzerland, England, Greece, Turkey, Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. He has had an audience with Pope John Paul II in 1992 and met with the Patriarch, Bartholomew II in Istanbul, Turkey. At one time Bishop Peplowski had a private pilot’s license, and wishes he still had it to help him in his journeys.
His many recent awards include the General Pulaski Association of the Niagara Frontier Recognition of his spiritual guidance to Polonia in 2002, the Polish National Union of America award in recognition of many years of dedicated service in 1999, the Diocesan Union of Holy Name Societies (Roman Catholic) Ecumenical Award for outstanding work for God, church and community in 1993, the 1991 Am-Pol Eagle Citizen of the Year Award in the religion category, the 2005 Am-Pol Eagle Citizen Award in the heritage category, and the Buffalo Bisons and the Polish Community of WNY award of Polish American Citizen of the Year award in 2006. He is listed in Strathmore’s Who’s Who in 2006-2007.
On June 7, 2008 Bishop Peplowski was honored at the Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral, in Lancaster, the See of the Buffalo-Pittsburgh Diocese, bishop, pastor, and spiritual leader on his 50th anniversary of priesthood. He retired in 2012.
The parishioners of Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral know how blessed we were to have Bishop Peplowski as our pastor and spiritual leader. While our hearts are deeply saddened in his passing, it was our greatest honor to know and love him.
God bless you Bishop Peplowski or Bishop Pep as we fondly referred to him, you will remain forever in our hearts!