September 06, 2018
BY TONI CASHNELLI
PHOTOS BY TONI CASHNELLITop, Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth Janice Marie Blados, Janice Fulmer and Geraldine Wodarczyk: above left, David Moczulski, OFM; above right, St. Stanislaus Kostka
Scattered throughout the rest of the church were several hundred people – unrelated by blood – who were treated like family by friar David Moczulski.
“He was a person of quiet strength, always there for you when you needed him,” friar Leonard Cornelius said at David’s Aug. 17 funeral in Pittsburgh.
“David had a very compassionate heart,” said friar John Joseph Gonchar. “He would never leave you wanting for anything.”
It was his unexpected death at age 62 that brought together relatives, sisters whose religious communities he served, friends from hospital ministry, and friars who, like David, were part of the Vice Province of the Holy Savior before its union with St. John the Baptist Province in 2000. They filled stately St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, a historic Polish-American parish in the city’s old market district and one of David’s favorite places.
They celebrated the simplicity, humanity and generosity that made him a little brother not only to friars and his family – older sisters Myra, Cynthia and Mary Jo – but to many whose connections were fleeting or peripheral.
“He touched so many people in so many different ways,” said Sr. Geraldine Wodarczyk, CSFN, who met David 20 years ago when she was the local superior and he celebrated Mass at Holy Family Manor for infirm and retired sisters.
“He was only five years ordained,” she said. “One day he asked to see me. He said, ‘I want to know if what I say reaches the hearts of the sisters.’ I was touched. No one before or since has asked that.”
Most departed friars leave a long legacy of service. David, who recently marked his 25th Jubilee, died in the midst of ministry, compounding the shock and pain of those who were closest. “He worked very hard and wore many hats,” said Leonard, a resident of Holy Family Friary, where David was guardian.
Chaplain at Allegheny General Hospital, he also served the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the School Sisters of St. Francis and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. Many of them shared the depth of their loss and gratitude during the Reception of the Body, calling David “a saint”, “generous beyond belief,” “very human, very humble, very holy” and “truly a Franciscan”. They described his shoeless sermons and the wince-inducing back pain he often endured at Mass. “He had the most incredible love of the sisterhood,” said friend and ordination classmate Mark Hudak. When David traveled, visiting Poor Clares was always on the agenda.
“They loved him at Allegheny Hospital,” said Angela Costa, a former co-worker. “He was passionate, kind, funny. People drove from far away just to go to Mass with him.”
Thanks to David, homeless patients left with food and clothing, said Mary Lou Krieger, the hospital’s Director of Social Work Services and Pastoral Care. “What a teacher he was to me. He taught me to be compassionate and caring at 2 a.m. He reached out to undocumented immigrants and those with special needs. That was his specialty. It made him feel good.”
Srs. Anastasia Chernitsky (Mark Hudak’s aunt) and Colette Baran will miss David’s daily visits; below, beautiful St. StanislausHe was known as “The Man for All Seasons,” said Sheila Gold, a medical social worker and colleague. “I thank God for David’s life.” His care extended to people of all faiths who needed a partner in prayer. Once when a Jewish patient was dying, “He asked me to go with him” to see the woman. David read prayers and asked Sheila, who is Jewish, to sing. “It was just before Yom Kippur. She was really moved and so was I.”
Mike Lenz called David “a very good friar and a very good priest. Once when I was living in Pittsburgh I had terrible chest pains. He was at a sisters’ community, and someone told him I was rushed to the hospital. He got there before I did.” Mike underwent angioplasty and was ordered to lie still for hours. “By 7 o’clock at night I was starving. David came in. When the nuns brought Salisbury steak, David cut it up and fed me like a little baby. To the day I die I will remember that.”
In addition to his gifts, he also had his demons, said homilist Mark. “He had a lot of hardships in his life. He loved things to where it hurt him. He suffered from depression and tinnitus,” a ringing or roaring in the ears. “He was a fun-loving guy, but there were depths to him he would not share because he was so introverted. He wanted to help others but couldn’t help himself.”
Top, Frances Siedliska founded the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth; below, Mary Lou Krieger, niece Mary Beck, and Angela Costa
Tested through the years, the friends remained close, with David issuing this demand. “During one of our heart-to-heart talks, he warned me that if this song wasn’t played at his funeral, he would haunt me the rest of his life,” Mark said, pulling out his smartphone. Holding it up to the microphone, he clicked on the pop tune, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, which begins with the catchy “A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh” intro. By the time they reached the first verse – “In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight” – the congregation was smiling and singing along.
Ironically, the person being eulogized preferred to stay in the background. “He was very reserved,” said Leonard. “He didn’t make a show of himself.”
At the hospital, David often witnessed death and dying. Mary Lou remembered he once said, “Can you imagine if they asked someone to speak [at the funeral] and nobody got up?”
She looked around the church and shook her head. “He would be amazed at how many people got up to speak about him today.”
BY GREG FRIEDMAN, OFM
PHOTOS BY GREG FRIEDMAN, OFMThe postulants represent a variety of ages, backgrounds and places of origin.
With these words, OLG Provincial Minister Jack Clark Robinson exhorted the 12 men entering the postulancy program of six U.S. Franciscan Provinces on Aug. 30 in Silver Spring, Md. Jack went on to spell out the challenges the postulants will face: “individual challenges, individual affirmations, meant for you and for you alone….[and] the challenges that we face together. They come in your community here, among the friars of the six Provinces, and in the Church in our world.”
The group which will face those challenges are a diverse gathering of ages, backgrounds and places of origin:
Edgar Alberto (HNP), 27, comes from El Salvador and more recently, Durham, N.C.
SJB postulant Joshua RichterThey bring a variety of educational preparation: business management, theology, philosophy, anthropology, education, language study, environmental science, global studies. They come to the friars through contact with the Franciscans in their families and parishes, as well as other religious.
The new postulants were welcomed at a Eucharist which was attended by the local friar-community at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, friars from the six collaborating provinces, and Franciscan lay volunteers also based there.
Jack included in his homily a far-reaching prediction for the postulants: “You will, God grant, make solemn profession of vows, five, six or more years from now, into a Province not yet born.
“But our challenge and the hard work that we must do together before your day of solemn profession is to bring that new Province into being, by offering our best selves—the best Franciscans each of us can be individually; offering the best of our inheritance from our six Mothers (now there is a thought—six Mothers!) and offering the best of our dreams, which is where you are so very important, to make that…truly a new sign of the power of God at work to change our world.”
is a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes )
Sancta Clara Monastery in Canton, OhioMy recent Visitations to Holy Family Friary in Pittsburgh and to the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Canton were very good. What made them so? In reviewing my time with both groups of Franciscans, there is a commonality that binds us together. The groundedness in our humanity allowed us to express both sorrow and joy.
The evening I arrived in Pittsburgh we celebrated the birthdays of both Leonard and John Joseph at Outback Steak House. Naturally, the friars who just two weeks prior had experienced the death of our brother, David Moczulski, were still trying to put that together. The suddenness of his death at 62 was surprising and sad. But as we waited for salads to arrive, out came stories of David’s generosity and, then, some of the funny incidents that only those who live together would know. We moved from the sadness of death to the realization that “life is changed, not ended.”
With both the friars of Pittsburgh and the sisters in Canton, conversation shifted to the sorrow we feel for the victims of child sexual abuse that were made public through the Pennsylvania Grand Jury. And the anger at such callous actions on the part of the perpetrators. And wondering how to move forward as the Body of Christ. There has been talk of making reparation, focusing on our lives as Franciscans dedicated as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance. Each person, in their way, said that she or he had put on the habit of penance when we entered this community. Some have talked of fasting as a way of bringing our own bodies into an experience of solidarity with those whose lives have been hurt. Many quoted how the San Damiano Cross told young Francis to “Go, repair my church, which as you see, is falling into ruin.”
There is not much laughter in the face of such enormous hurt and pain. Still, the power of the Risen One, who bore such wounds—even in his risen body—is a source of comfort and genuine healing. Baptism is not a flu shot that prevents suffering. The Risen Christ summons us who feel mourning, anger, pain, sorrow to bring these experiences to His own Wounds. There we take our nailed hands and hold them to His. There is a time for mourning.
The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration are also bringing it to their adoration times. When a person enters their chapel, one cannot ignore the gigantic monstrance that dominates that sacred space. It called, beckoned, even demanded my attention. I found myself with Him who took bread, tore it and said, “This is what will become of my body. This is my body.” His self-identification with that bread is what opened the eyes of the disciples on the road to Emmaus as they were at supper. They had gone through their long litany of how everything in their world had collapsed at the execution of Jesus. They asked this Stranger, are you the only in one in all Jerusalem that has not heard of these things? And Jesus, in a line that strikes me as funny, asks, “What sort of things?” And they pour out their hearts.
The peaceful grounds of the Poor Clare Monastery in CantonThe table in the Monastery of the Poor Clares is in the shape of an oval. Everyone has a place there. And naturally the stories of various friars who have served there start pouring out—especially of Nick Lohkamp and Stan Bir. Soon we were laughing and telling some of our favorite jokes. I told one from Murray Bodo about when Pope John XXIII met with some of the Mother Superiors who had made their pilgrimage to Rome. I messed up the punch line. And when I finally got it out correctly they all laughed—partly at my messing up punch lines. That’s how it works with us. Even in the midst of real pain, the Risen Christ, the Unseen Guest, comes to dine with us and allows healing—even laughter. Maybe that cleansing laughter is a tribute to the power of the Resurrection. There is a time to weep and a time to laugh.
– Mark Soehner, OFM
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PHOTOS BY GREG FRIEDMAN, OFMThe postulants represent a variety of ages, backgrounds and places of origin. “Jesus said to his disciples, and to us, ‘Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.’ Jesus might have said that you do not know the day, but I know it. That day was yesterday, and today, and tomorrow.”