Funeral discourse – Dr. Bohdan Lonchyna

Oktober 1, 1985

St. Paul in his first letter to the Church in Corinthians says the following about the various gifts-powers we receive from the Holy Spirit: “There is a variety of gifts, but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose. One may have the gift of preaching with wisdom, given him by the Spirit; another may have the gift of preaching instruction, given by the same Spirit; and another the gift of faith, given by the same Spirit; one, the power of miracles; another prophecy; another the gift of recognizing spirits, another the gift of tongues and another the ability to interpret them. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, who distributes gifts to different people, just as he chooses.”

(I Cor. 12:4-11)

God likes variety in his garden and so, no one person possesses all the gifts, all the talents and powers in a pre-eminent way. Each of us is different, each with different gifts, yet it is the same one God, His Holy Spirit working in each of us for a good purpose. Each of us has or her place, mission in God’s great plan, the building of the body of Christ, God’s kingdom on earth. This inhering of God’s Kingdom, Christ’s body, the Church, not the exclusive office or duty of the ordained clergy і one. By virtue of Baptism, our irrevocable commitment to Christ, we all become members of the Royal Priesthood of Christ, we become participants in a special way of т us’ priesthood and His mission.

You as laymen — husbands and wives, workers (blue collar and professional) students — all of you are given a measure of the Holy Spirit’s gifts, God’s powers working in you, working as St. Paul says: “for a good purpose,” namely the building and furthering of God’s Kingdom. All of us then, have a mission, a special dignity in God’s Church, a mission that is compatible with the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

However, God in his providence calls certain people, be they religious or laymen and women, to an extra measure of service. For this special service, He gives them certain gifts of the Spirit in greater or even extra-ordinary measure. However, God gives these gifts with an invitation to cooperate. We respond, accept by our free and generous cooperation. God, then, begins working through us to build, remake and renew the face of the earth.

Dr. Bohdan Lonchyna I believe, was given two gifts of the Holy Spirit in special measure, namely extraordinary faith and the gift of instruction – that is, the gift to teach in a special way.

Jesus reminds us, “you shall know a tree by its fruits” Luke 6:43-44), you shall know a man’s character by his deeds, his activities.

Bohdan Lonchyna’s faith was deep… it was genuine. He believed that Jesus was the center of his life and he practiced that conviction daily, not just on Sunday. Whenever he could, he attended the Divine Liturgy, frequently during the week he received Holy Communion, he joined with Our Lord, his companion and his strength. Not only did he attend, he participated. He considered it an honor and duty to assist the priest and congregation by leading the responses.

His living faith is evident because it has rubbed off on his family, his sons and daughters. What Bohdan believed and held as a treasure, this unique relationship with Christ, he and his wife shared with their family, two sons of which are now priests.

As for the gift of instruction. Not only was Dr. Lonchyna a teacher by profession, he taught by his example. Some presume to teach by words alone, yet their life is not in harmony with their maxims. Dr. Lonchyna practiced what he preached.

His words, ideas and ideals were not only lofty, he worked wholeheartedly, unselfishly to realize his convictions, especially his dream to see a Ukrainian Catholic Patriarchate, realized, recognized and respected. His methods, in all his undertakings, are worthy of note: always a gentleman, always loyal to rightly constituted authority, always respectful to his fellow man, particularly fathers in the faith, his bishops, his pastors and the members of the clergy.

Dr. Lonchyna was firm and unshakable in his convictions, but yet ever patient, long suffering, in bringing his goals to completion. Division, discord, controversies and polemics were not his way, for he knew well the maxim, “a house divided against itself can not long stand.”

Even with his multitude of obligations as the world head of the Patriarchal Society, Dr. Lonchyna was most generous with his time. Last year, although comfortable in his retirement, he graciously accepted our invitation to teach French, a task he diligently carried out till last Monday, just four days before his death.

What love he showed to Father Abraham Miller for 41/2 years and Father Walter Rybicky this last year by tutoring them in spoken Ukrainian and Ukrainian history.

So often it happens that when a great, an extraordinary person lives among us, we tend to take them for granted, we just accept their specialness as commonplace. My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, especially you dear students, Dr. Bohdan Lonchyna was a rare individual, a gentleman, a man of God, a true teacher. His example and his words were always in harmony with each other.

His last moments were exemplary, he died as he had lived… in union with God. He was well prepared for death. He knew his illness was terminal. He expected pain and those last hours indeed, there was much pain. Yet he prayed with me the prayers of the anointing of the sick. He accepted this last duty our Lord placed on his shoulders, the cross of sickness and pain; he carried it as did Jesus on his way to Calvary. Bohdan lived with our Lord, he shared our Lord’s cross and died in our Lord’s arms, so as to live and reign with Him.

Although he knew there was little hope of recovering from his type of cancer, this knowledge did not break his spirit. He chose to continue teaching as long as he could, for in you dear students, being with you, he found special joy and strength. You helped him forget his illness, you gave him motivation to cling to the gift of life as long as God would permit. French was only a course of study, but the example he gave you as an educator is priceless. Let’s thank the Lord for having had him in our midst.

There is but one thing, I am sure, Dr. Lonchyna would ask of you today, as we commit his soul to Our Lord, namely, your gift of remembering him in your prayers – pray for him, pray for the causes he so diligently fostered for the good of our Church and Ukrainian people. As you receive Our Lord in the intimacy of Holy Communion today, speak a kind word to the Lord in Dr. Lonchyna’s behalf… truly a rare and special man.

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