Christian 05

Archpriest John G. Petro

July 1, 1942 ~ October 29, 2022 (age 80) 80 Years Old

Obituary

 

Archpriest John G. Petro Asleep in the Lord

Archpriest John G. Petro, a retired priest of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, died suddenly of heart failure on October 29, 2022 at St. Clair Hospital, Upper St. Clair, PA.

Father John, as he preferred to be called, was born July 1,1942 to the late Nicholas and Elizabeth Orlosky Petro.

John attended Canonsburg public schools and he was a member of the very first graduating class of the newly organized jointure known as Canon-McMillan. He served as Student Council President for the C-M Senior High School class of 1960.

After graduation, he entered the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, simultaneously enrolling in Duquesne University. After four years of study, he graduated from Duquesne in 1964 with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy. He was then chosen to pursue higher theological education at the then known Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. He resided at the American College of Theological Studies there, and he graduated from the now designated Dutch Catholic University of Leuven with a master of arts degree in theology.

On September 29, 1968 Bishop Stephen J. Kocisko ordained him to the priesthood at his home parish of St. Michael the Archangel in Canonsburg. He then began what would be a 54 year ministry to God’s people in the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Church. Numerous parishes welcomed the newly ordained Father John as their assistant pastor, and in 1974 he accepted his first assignment as pastor to St. Nicholas Church in Nanty Glo, PA.

In 1977 Father John became the chaplain, spiritual director, and retreat director for the Sisters of St. Basil at Mt. St. Macrina, Uniontown, PA. During his years of assistant pastorship Father John assisted the Sisters in a monumental effort to translate liturgical services [matins, vespers, Lenten, and others] previously published in Greek, Slavonic, and French, into English. His untiring efforts led to the publishing of texts that eventually became the basis for books and booklets that are used for Byzantine uthenian services across the country.

During this same time, Father John initiated a self-directed study in the history and development of Eastern Christian Spirituality. He concentrated on the writings and teachings of the early church fathers, the various monastic communities and their contributions through the ages, the application of spiritual disciplines on the personal, parish, and institutional levels, and finally on the adaptation of spiritual traditions from the past into today’s world.

Father John conducted retreats, spiritual conferences, and individual spiritual counseling at the Mt. St. Macrina House of Prayer on a regular basis. His talents were soon recognized and he became a much sought after leader for clergy retreats, religious communities’ renewal      programs, and numerous events and occasions seeking an emphasis on spirituality.

Recognizing his accumulated knowledge and talent for communicating the principles of spiritual life into contemporary society and lifestyles, his alma mater, the American College of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium invited him in 1984 to return and join its faculty as director of spiritual formation. With his bishop’s approval, Father John humbly accepted the invitation and soon returned to Leuven to begin a five- year term.

He worked closely with the seminary students at the American College, together with others who sought his spiritual wisdom, at both the conference and individual levels. During this same five year period, and living on the campus of a world renowned university, Father John continued his study and research into Eastern Christian spiritual theology, spending countless hours at the university library, and also visiting some of the great Eastern Christian monastic communities throughout Europe.

Committed first to his assignments at the university, Father John also expanded his own cultural education on days off, by taking a readily available train to Brussels, Paris, Lyon or other towns and cities in Western Europe. On longer holidays and during the summers he welcomed family and friends to join him in Europe for a “dream vacation” where they would explore Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and other countries.

His five-year assignment quickly ended and upon returning home in 1989 he became pastor of Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church in Charleroi, PA. Once again, Father John responded to requests to speak or lead events with a spirituality theme or purpose. He also taught at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary. 

Archbishop Judson Procyk named Father Petro rector of the Byzantine Catholic Seminary in 1995. Father John quickly transitioned from parish priest to seminary leadership.

Recognizing the directives of the Catholic Church on priestly formation, together with the then current academic status of the Byzantine Catholic Seminary, Father John, his faculty, Board of Directors, and project team set out to obtain full academic accreditation from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Association of Theological Institutions.

Their untiring efforts through several years culminated in the full accreditation of the Seminary as a four-year degree granting institution, authorized to award master of arts degrees in theology as recognized by the Association of Theological Institutions.

After an unprecedented 17 years as seminary rector, Father John resigned, enjoyed a sabbatical year of rest, and then in 2013 became pastor of St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Church in North Huntington, PA. With his parish council, parish organizations, dedicated parishioners and even interested non-parishioners Father John led a renewal effort that embraced parish infrastructure, finances, liturgical and spiritual life, and other aspects of life at St. Stephen’s, all of which remain as signs of their total communal effort.

Earlier this year on St. Thomas Sunday, Father John celebrated his final Divine Liturgy at St. Stephen’s and immediately transitioned from pastor and leader to a quiet life in retirement near his hometown of Canonsburg. And, as he quietly entered this life on July 1, 1942, in the middle of the night on October 29, 2022, he would depart from this earthly life and forever be asleep in the Lord.

Preceding Father John in death were his parents. He is survived by his brother Fred [Mary Ellen] Petro; sister Barbara [John] Modzelewski; nephew Gregory [Kristen Sweeney] Modzelewski and great-niece Eliza Sweeney-Modzelewski; and niece Dr. Katherine [Dr. Nicholas Bosch] Modzelewski; and numerous cousins and friends.

Family and friends will be received at St. John Cathedral, 210 Greentree Road, Munhall, PA, 15120, on Wednesday, November 9 from 2-4 and 6-8 PM. The priestly Parastas memorial service will be celebrated at 7 PM. The Funeral Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at the Cathedral on Thursday, November 10, at 10 AM by Metropolitan William C. Skurla. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Byzantine Catholic Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA or Sisters of St. Basil the Great, Uniontown, PA.

Arrangements entrusted to the SAVOLSKIS-WASIK- GLENN FUNERAL HOME, INC., 3501 Main Street, Munhall, PA 15120. Condolences may be left at www.swgfuneralhome.com. 

Eternal memory and blessed repose, Archpriest John George Petro, Vicnaja jemu pamjat’.

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Services

Visitation
Wednesday
November 9, 2022

2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
St. John Cathedral (Greentree Road, PA)

Visitation
Wednesday
November 9, 2022

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
St. John the Baptist Cathedral
210 Greentree Road
Munhall, Pennsylvania 15120

Parastas
Wednesday
November 9, 2022

7:00 PM
St. John the Baptist Cathedral
210 Greentree Road
Munhall, Pennsylvania 15120

Divine Liturgy
Thursday
November 10, 2022

10:00 AM
St. John the Baptist Cathedral
210 Greentree Road
Munhall, Pennsylvania 15120

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