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Statements Regarding the Passing of Cardinal Szoka
Statement of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
Having learned with sadness of the death of Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka, Archbishop Emeritus of Detroit, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the archdiocese. Recalling with gratitude the late cardinal’s tireless episcopal ministry in Gaylord and Detroit, and his years of service to the Apostolic See and the Vatican City State, I willingly join you in commending the soul of this generous servant of Christ and the Church to the merciful love of God our Heavenly Father. To all who mourn Cardinal Szoka in the hope of the Resurrection I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord.
Statement of the Most Rev. Steven J. Raica, Bishop-Elect of Gaylord
I was saddened to hear of the passing of Cardinal Edmund Szoka who had served God and His Church with such commitment, dedication and great love. He was a holy priest, a gifted leader whose response to the Lord’s call was always a resounding “Yes,” no matter where he was called.
As I reflect on the role he played in my own life since being appointed to follow in his footsteps as Bishop of Gaylord, I am grateful for the ways he entered into my life. Cardinal Szoka was a priest of my home Diocese of Marquette before being appointed the first Bishop of the newly-formed Diocese of Gaylord in 1971. He ordained me to the diaconate just six years later. While I was studying and later worked in Rome, Cardinal Szoka served there. We had our last conversation just a short time ago after he learned Pope Francis had appointed me the Fifth Bishop of Gaylord. It was an honor to know Cardinal Szoka. I hope that I can lead in a manner worthy of the legacy he leaves behind.
My most heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to the family, friends and all those who, like myself, were touched by the faith, life, and dedication of Cardinal Szoka.
May the angels lead you into paradise;
may the martyrs come to welcome you
and take you to the holy city,
the new and eternal Jerusalem.
Statement of Msgr. Francis J. Murphy, Diocesan Administrator
Today is a sad day, in a sense, as a chapter of our diocese has passed for this life, but it’s also a good day for Cardinal Szoka. I know he has been hurting physically in the past few years and so this time of suffering is over, so that can be a blessing, and I would expect that he’s gone to his reward.
I have many fond memories of Cardinal Szoka which go back to even before he was installed as the first Bishop of Gaylord. Prior to his episcopal ordination, I was asked to move to Gaylord to represent the Grand Rapids diocese to help him set up the new diocese and get it going, along with Fr. Larry Boks from the Saginaw diocese. Then-Msgr. Szoka would come across the Bridge and we would all meet in Mackinaw City as plans were being made for the celebration.
He was our first bishop and of course the first of anything is always very special and very important. Right from the start he created an atmosphere of drawing people together and I think that remains today. He stayed close to the diocese and even when he’d come back from Rome, we would all try to get together to visit. He was gregarious, very hospitable and very talented. He loved people and he loved the Church. He was there for us and I think we were there for him. It really was an honor to start out with him. May he rest in peace.
Statement of the Most Rev. Bernard A. Hebda, Coadjutor Archbishop of Newark
Recalling Cardinal Szoka’s kindness to me and the many helpful insights that he graciously offered when I was serving as Bishop in his beloved Diocese of Gaylord, I was deeply saddened to learn of his passing. As he shared with me stories about the challenges of his early days in Gaylord, he would often touchingly add that his heart would always belong to Gaylord, his first love. He set the bar high as a Shepherd and I am confident that the Lord of Life will now reward him in abundance for his generous service.
Statement of the Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit
We mourn the loss of a dedicated shepherd, for sixty years Cardinal Szoka gave himself totally to his priestly service of Christ and his Church. He has gone home to the Heavenly Father with our prayers. May the Lord give him the reward of his labors.
Statement of the Most Rev. John Doerfler, Bishop of Marquette
On behalf of the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Marquette, we give thanks to God for the life and ministry of Edmund Cardinal Szoka. As a priest son of our diocese, we are especially grateful for the ministry he exercised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in addition to his ministry as the Bishop of Gaylord, the Archbishop of Detroit, and his service to the Universal Church. We pray that God welcome him into eternal life.
Statement of Paul A. Long, President and CEO of the Michigan Catholic Conference
he news of Cardinal Szoka’s death has struck the heart of the Michigan Catholic Conference, as His Eminence played a significant role in the life of this organization since its inception in 1963. Serving the MCC while a pastor in the Diocese of Marquette, then as Bishop of Gaylord, and later as Cardinal Archbishop of Detroit, His Eminence strongly believed in the mission of the MCC to advocate for the common good for all in Michigan. Cardinal Szoka believed equally as strong in the ministry of the Bishops to provide administrative services for the common good of the Catholic Church throughout the state. His acumen in various subjects, particularly finance and business, helped to propel Michigan Catholic Conference toward the 21st Century.
A particularly affectionate memory for this organization was when His Eminence, while serving as President of the Governatorate of Vatican City State, celebrated Holy Mass at the Tomb of St. Peter for the National Association of State Catholic Conference Directors, who were on pilgrimage to Rome in 1999. A pastor with firm direction, of deep faith and a love for the State of Michigan, especially the City of Detroit, Cardinal Szoka will be fondly remembered and mourned by this organization and the many others who were touched by his large heart and concern for all.