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.
Throughout his time in the Diocese of Buffalo, Bishop Grosz has made many contributions to the permanent diaconate, which began in 1975, four years after Bishop Grosz was ordained as a priest. Deacon Ted May, former diocesan Director of Deacon Personnel and Bishop Grosz' longtime family friend, spoke last month about his family's experiences that have spanned six decades.
Deacon May said the two families have remained close enough that his wife's father is Bishop Grosz's godfather, and Bishop Grosz is the godfather of Deacon May's own daughter, Sandra, who knew her from the time she was a baby and later went on to officiate at her wedding ceremony.
"I got to know him very well there, and in the diaconate itself," said Deacon May, recalling how Bishop Grosz was an original faculty member of the Diocese of Buffalo's permanent diaconate program.
"He's always been very positive about the diaconate program," Deacon May added. "He taught for the first three years, liturgy practicum and so forth. We used to have weekend classes once a month, and his was the very first class to be given to the very first class of men entering the diaconate."
According to Deacon May, his earliest experience with Bishop Grosz was when the bishop was an altar server at Deacon May's wedding at Assumption Parish in Buffalo. He recalled how the neighborhood, in the Black Rock section of Buffalo, was very close. Bishop Grosz's father and Deacon May's father-in-law used to regularly play golf, so the two families frequently got together to socialize.
When asked about how Bishop Grosz has continued to celebrate his faith during the time the two men have known one another, Deacon May said the bishop has always put religion first in his life and taken it very seriously, which includes making an effort with each of the people he serves.
"He's very serious about his faith, and he really tries to get people to get serious about their faith," said Deacon May. "The best example I can give is when he does a confirmation, he takes the time with each person, to get to understand them and get them to understand what they're doing at their confirmation."
Deacon May shared an anecdote from 1990, shortly after Bishop Grosz was ordained a bishop and Father May served as his first master of ceremonies. "The first or second day after he was made bishop, he calls me to be the master of ceremonies. I said to him, 'I'm not sure I know what to do.' He says, 'That's okay. Neither do I, but I have a book that tells us what we're supposed to do,'" he recalled.
While working with people to assist them in understanding their faith, Bishop Grosz also possesses the ability to "get down to the level of the person he is talking to" to make it easier. Deacon May recalled how diaconate classes Bishop Grosz taught were always a "good time and a friendly time," and Bishop Grosz was able to interject humor into the seriousness of the subject matter he taught.
"(Bishop Grosz) brings people together to enjoy their faith. He makes them welcome, which is one of the things that we need to do in the Church today in order to bring people back," Deacon May said. "He wants to welcome people to join his journey in faith to God, and he lifts them up."