Bishop Innocent (Lotocky, OSBM) 1915-2013

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Retired Bishop of St Nicholas Eparchy in Chicago, +Innocent (Lotocky) fell asleep in the Lord July 4, 2013. His funeral services and burial were celebrated July 12 and 13 in Chicago at St Nicholas Cathedral and the parish cemetery.

 At age 97 he was the oldest bishop in the Ukrainian Catholic Church worldwide. Bishop Innocent was relatively active until recently. On June 29, he was admitted to the hospital with breathing difficulties.

The future bishop was born November 3, 1915 in Stary Petrykivci, (Ukraine) the youngest of two daughter and two sons of Stefan and Maria (Tytyn). At age 13 he entered the Gymnasium of the Basilian Fathers in Buchach. After completing his studies in 1932, he entered the novitiate of the Basilian Fathers.in Krechiv, pronouncing his solemn vows August 8, 1937.

At age 25 he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Blessed Paul Peter (Gojdich, OSBM) of Presov, in Omolouc (Czechoslovakia) on November 24, 1940. He did pastoral work in Vienna (Austria) while earning a Doctorate with a dissertation theme “The Holy Spirit in the Liturgy.”

He did additional pastoral work in Belgium, and in 1946 came to the United States He was Superior and Master of Novices in Dawson, Pennsylvania. Five years later he became the Provincial Superior of the Basilian Fathers. In 1953 he was made pastor of St George Ukrainian Catholic Church in New York City, New York. In 1958 he was appointed Novice Mater in Glen Cove, Long Island, New York until 1960 when he was named Superior and in 1961 pastor of St Nicholas Parish, inn Chicago, Illinois.

It was in 1961 that the Eparchy of St Nicholas was established. The parish was named a cathedral, staffed now by clergy of the eparchy. From 1962-1981 he served as pastor and Superior of Immaculate Conception Parish in Hamtramck, Michigan. During this time Fr Innocent was also named a delegate to the General Chapter of the Basilian Fathers (1963) and from 1962-1980 was also a member of  the Provincial Council of the Basilian Fathers in the United States. Upon the death of Bishop Jaroslav (Gabro), he was chosen as the second eparch of St Nicholas Eparchy,

On March 1, 1981 he was elevated to the episcopal dignity by Patriarch Joseph (Slipyj), along with co-consecrators Bishop Basil (Losten) of Stamford and Bishop Neil (Savaryn OSBM) of Edmonton. He served as the Eparch of St Nicholas until his retirement on July 2, 1993.

Among the duties as eparch, Bishop Innocent ordained 35 men to the diaconate. Some of those deacons were among the 21 priests ordained by Bishop Innocent. Additionally in 1983 he was the principal consecrator od Bishop Vladimir (Tarasevych, OSB) along with co-consecrators Archbishop Daniel Kucera, OSB and Bishop Emil (Mihalik), as bishop for the Belarusian Church, also in Chicago. Subsequently Bishop Innocent was a co-consecrator of Bishop Robert (Moskal) in 1981; Bishop Michael (Kuchmiak) in 1988; Bishop Walter (Paska), 1992; and, in 1993, his successor as Eparch of St Nicholas, Bishop Michael (Wiwchar, CSsR).

Even as a retired bishop, Bishop Innocent maintained a presence in the Eparchy of St Nicholas. He regularly celebrated the Diviine Liturgy at St Nicholas Cathedral, becoming, in 1997 Chaplain to the Senior Citizens Club at the cathedral parish.

Funeral services for Bishop Innocent were celebrated on Friday and Saturday, July 12 1nd 13 at the cathedral. Early in the afternoon on Friday the body of Bishop Innocent was borne into the cathedral by priests of the eparchy. This wa followed by a panakhyda celebrated by Bishop Richard (Seminack), the current Eparch of St Nicholas Eparchy and  eparchial clergy. Visitation was continuous throughout the day until an evening Parastas was celebrated.

During the time until the Parastas, a Panakhyd was celebrated by Bishop Daniel of the nearby Ukrainian Orthodox Diocese, along with several priests and deacons.from various parishes in the vicinity.

Concelebrating the panakhyda were His Eminence Metropolitan Archbishop Stefan (Soroka) of the Archeparchy of Philadelphia;; Metropolitan Emeritus Stephen (Sulyk) of Philadelphia; His Grace, Bishop Richard (Seminack); Bishop Paul Chomnecky, OSBM) of Stamford; Bishop Emeritus Basil (Losten) of Stamford; Bishop Emeritus Michael (Wiwchar, CSsR) of Saskatoon and Bishop Hlib (Lonchyna) of the Eparchy of the Holy Family, London, England. Provincial, Father Philip Sandrick OSBM delivered a homily/eulogy of the Monk-Bishop Innocent to the other concelebrating clergy, including many Basilian Fathers, and the numerous faithful present.

Choirs and faithful from a number of parishes were on hand to sing the responses for the funeral rites composed so many centuries ago to serve as a prayerful comfort to all who attend and participate, as well as a petition to the Almighty God in Whose presence each one stands, for mercy and justice in judgment.

The concelebrants were joined at Saturday morning’s Divine Liturgy for the deceased bishop by Bishop John (Bura), Apostolic Administrator of St Josaphat Eparchy of Parma, and, representing the Archbishop of Chicago Francis Cardinal George, Auxiliary Bishop Francis Kane, as well as a number of clergy who were unable to be present for the parastas.

Concluding the prayers, Metropolitan Stefan --havingread the Prayer od Absolution—placed it in the hand of Bishop Innocent. Then followed the oil anointing, and the “Farewell Kiss” by all present.

Priests again bore the body---this time from the cathedral to the waiting hearse. A large cortege followed for twelve miles to St Nicholas Cemetery for the committal service, the burial and the sealing of the grave “until the Second Coming of Christ.”
   Bishop Innocent was  laid to rest accompanied by the ever-repeated “May his memory be eternal!”

By Rev. John Lucas, Saint Nicholas Eparchy

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