Bishop Edward M. Grosz, auxiliary bishop of Buffalo, celebrates the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordination this month. In honor of Bishop Grosz, we are celebrating him all week with a series of stories about his ministry prior to his anniversary Mass Sunday, Feb. 1, at 2 p.m. at St. Joseph Cathedral. All are welcome.
While he has served the Catholic Church for 25 years as a bishop, Bishop Grosz has also been able to collaborate with other churches, including the Polish National Catholic Church.
He would often work with the former bishop of its Buffalo-Pittsburgh Diocese, Bishop Emeritus Thaddeus Peplowski, who retired in 2012.
Bishop Emeritus Peplowski, who currently lives in Lancaster, said in November he has known Bishop Grosz for the entire duration of his time as a bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, since 1990.
"He's Roman Catholic, and we're National Catholic, and we're both Polish-American, and somehow we met at a meeting - I don't even recall the meeting, but we became friends there," Bishop Emeritus Peplowski said. "We began to visit one another, our churches and so forth. He got on the commission that we were both on, between the Roman Catholic and Polish National Catholic Church. We became very good friends."
Bishop Emeritus Peplowski has known Bishop Grosz to be a very outgoing person. "As soon as he sees you from a distance, he'll call your name and come over and greet you. He's a very loving person," he recalled. When they both served together at collaborative meetings and on commissions, it had generally been during the scope of various Polish-American programs and events, and they worked well together.
"He's proud to be Polish, and so am I. I think that was one of the things that brought us closer together," Bishop Emeritus Peplowski said. "We're both Catholic bodies. The Roman Catholic Church is under the jurisdiction of the Pope in Rome and we are not, that's the only difference."
Prime Bishop Franciszek Hodur founded the Polish National Catholic Church in Scranton, Pa., in 1897, when Prime Bishop Hodur, ordained a Roman Catholic bishop, split from the Roman Catholic Church to form a new church. It now claims about 25,000 members in North America, including the Buffalo-Pittsburgh Diocese, the Canadian Diocese and the Central, Eastern and Western Dioceses. Bishop Emeritus Peplowski said many of the other aspects of the churches' worship, including liturgy and sacraments, are the same.
During special events at each other's individual churches, Bishop Emeritus Peplowski and Bishop Grosz would typically invite each other to participate in the events. "I know when the Holy Father came here, I was invited to (St. Stanislaus Parish in Buffalo), and at that time he was pastor there. We got to attend things of that nature, and other important things that were in the area," Bishop Emeritus Peplowski recalled.
In addition to seeing Bishop Grosz during special events and otherwise, a total of up to 20 or 30 times throughout the course of a typical year, Bishop Emeritus Peplowski said he tries to keep in touch with Bishop Grosz, and the two will call each other to stay updated on each others' lives.
When asked about his experiences with Bishop Grosz during his own time as a bishop, Bishop Emeritus Peplowski called them "satisfying," and emphasized the importance of having different church leaders who can come together to recognize the similarities, rather than differences, in their churches.
"(It's a good thing) to be able to have two church leaders that can get along together and talk about things without breaking each others' rules or regulations, and working within each others' parameters, when we can," said Bishop Emeritus Peplowski. "Friendship goes beyond a lot of things."