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.
During Bishop Edward M. Grosz' more than 40 years as a priest and 25 years as a bishop, he has influenced men studying to join the priesthood, as well as how things continue to be done in parishes.
Msgr. David LiPuma, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Lewiston, spoke about his own experiences, which date back to when he was a seminarian.
"He was just a good model of somebody who was very dedicated to the priesthood, very dedicated to our diocese and the Church," Msgr. LiPuma said of him. "I found him to be someone who always had a lot of spirit, faith and joy in everything that he did, so he was a good example."
Between 1975 and 1980, Bishop Grosz was executive secretary of the diocese's Liturgical Commission, followed by a 14-year ministry, from 1976 to 1990, as director of the Office of Worship in the Catholic Center in Buffalo, after which he became pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Cheektowaga. Msgr. LiPuma said, to this day, many of the practices Bishop Grosz started in the diocese, including lector and Eucharistic minister training, as well as training for hospitality and ushers, are continued in the same ways.
"He put together a wonderful liturgical commission," said Msgr. LiPuma. "He went all over the diocese training people to be lectors, Eucharistic ministers. He was always available to do that, so he had a lot of energy. From that position, he was named auxiliary bishop in 1990 and ordained, and was given St. Philip as his first pastorate. He asked Father Richard Jedrzejewski and myself to be his associates."
At this point, Msgr. LiPuma frequently served as Bishop Grosz' master of ceremonies for confirmations and other liturgical events. Bishop Grosz made sure to include both his assistants in the decisions he made for the parish, and referred to them as a "pastoral team." "He was very collaborative in terms of us all meeting and making sure we were doing things together, wanting to grow the parish."
Bishop Grosz was pastoral and "a lot of fun to work with" as the leader of St. Philip Parish. During their free time, Msgr. LiPuma and Bishop Grosz would often jog in Stiglmeier Park near the parish.
"He'll always be known as outgoing. He's very entertaining and funny," Msgr. LiPuma added. "During Confirmations, he always went down and spoke to the candidates from his heart; he preached down in the middle of the aisle. He's known for engaging them one-on-one when they come up to be confirmed. He talks to each candidate about their confirmation name and encourages them to stay close to the Church."
Although the collaboration between Msgr. LiPuma and Bishop Grosz ended in 1993, the two men have stayed in touch with one another. Last year, Bishop Grosz held an evening of recollection for St. Peter Parish for Advent, and he also recently gave a keynote address for Catholic school teachers.
Msgr. LiPuma, who has been pastor of St. Peter since August 2013, recalled, also noted Bishop Grosz' faith. He is deeply spiritual and has always been very faithful to Mary, the Blessed Mother. When he preaches, he speaks of experiences that come from his prayer life, Msgr. LiPuma added, calling him an "inspiration" and someone who "makes you want to do your best, be a good priest and serve people well.
Additionally, the fact that Bishop Grosz has been a bishop for 25 years marks what Msgr. LiPuma called a "significant milestone" in his long and productive ministry as a man of faith.
"He's touched the hearts, minds and lives of a lot of people in Western New York. He's confirmed so many young people; he's been to so many parishes," Msgr. LiPuma added. "Everywhere he goes, people always say it was enjoyable having him here."