Tuesday, August 7, 2018

(208) The Gates of Hell Shall Never Prevail No Matter What the Scandal Is


For Every Bad Priest, a Hundred Good Priests

St. John Vianney
Fr. Vincent Capodanno

Bishop Fulton Sheen
St. Pope John Paul II
Your Parish Priest
St. John Vianney (1786-1859) was assigned to a rural parish from which many fell away.  He not only renewed the parish, but his holiness attracted penitents from all over France.  He would hear confessions up to 18 hours a day.  Marine Chaplain Fr. Vincent Capodanno (1929-1967) received the most prestigious Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery beyond the call of duty.  Bishop Sheen’s (1895-1979) television program “Life is Worth Living” in prime time during the 1950s and 1960s had the best audience rating for that time slot, beating out Milton Berle and Fran Sinatra.  St. Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) made a tremendous impact on the Church and the World.  He was very instrumental in the collapse of Communism in Europe which ended the Cold War.

For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all” (Luke 8:17).   “Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light (Luke 12:3).

       This Bible admonition has been true with the common people as well as many famous historical figures in regard to crime, corruption, and marital infidelity.  One of our country’s most loved past presidents had extra marital affairs in the White House.  

       Recently this truism was very evident to the whole world and rocked the Catholic Church with great sorrow and consternation….. despite $180,000 used as hush money to cover it up.   Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (88 years old), a very gifted prince of the Church and former Archbishop of Washington, D.C., suddenly was swept off of his pinnacle of great respect, honors, and achievement by grievous sins he committed as many as 50 years ago that are coming to light……abusing adult seminarians, some young priests, adolescents, and at least one boy 11 years old (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Edgar_McCarrick).
This is reminiscent of the classic sin and cover-up described in 2 Samuel 11 and 12.  King David yielded to lust while idle and neglecting his role as leader in battle.  He committed the grave of adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah.  To cover it up, he arranged for Uriah to be placed at the front line of battle where he would be most likely killed.  Then he married Bathsheba.  However, once publicly exposed by the prophet Nathan, King David did repent and did public penance.  Reconciled with God and His people, King David went on to become Israel’s greatest king and begin the line to Christ the King, our Savior.   May the former Cardinal similarly admit his sins and do public penance.  It would have a cleansing effect for the Church.

   The clerical abuse scandals corroborate Pope Benedict XVI’s prophetic statement that “The greatest threat to the Church is from within”, not external.  Ralph Martin makes this vividly clear in a recent article.  (See

About 4% of priests (some 4500 of about 125,000 in the U.S. 1950-2004) have been accused (often falsely) in the United States and many convicted, but never an American Church leader of such high rank with overwhelming evidence.  That percentage updated to 2018 would bew much smaller.  Considering all the progress seminary selection and child protection made since 2004, the percentage for currently active priests today should be about 1% or even less.   

Let’s remember that the great majority of our pastors and bishops are holy priests, dedicated priests, faithful priests who are giving their lives to God and dedicating themselves to serve us and help us to attain salvation.  But for every bad priest one can find a hundred good priests, heroic priests, even saintly priests.  We owe them immeasurable gratitude.  It’s not right to judge the entire Church by the sins of a few.  Lest we judge, they are human; no person is immune from sin.
Almost all the abuse occurred in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s with some in the 1990s. Some of this abuse occurred during the sexual revolution of the 1960s as well as during the turmoil that resulted from a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Second Vatican Council. This was also a period in which people both Catholic and non-Catholic lost their sense of sin.  In the 1970s, and 1980s seminary selection was often lax and spiritual formation was very deficient. Of course while these problems might explain some of the abuse in the 1970s and particularly the 1980s they do not explain the increasing number of reported cases from the 1950s and at least the early 1960’s.

 Yesterday. We can understand why bishops covered up clerical abuse…… to avoid scandal by handling it internally, usually ineptly and sometimes even wrongfully.  Every organization and family in the world has the tendency to cover up scandal within.  The bishops often failed to report abuse to the civil authorities, frequently from a sense of loyalty to their priests.  After a Bishop would reprimand the wayward priest, send him off to an extended spiritual retreat, and force him to have psychological counseling, the cleric would be reassigned with the shrink’s approval.    Sadly, there were also cases where church authorities tried to report it to the civil authorities, but were told to handle it internally. That was the mentality of the times. They did not know at the time that cures for such addictions and disorders are rare.  At the same time we believed in the power of contrition, repentance, mercy, forgiveness, and second chances without realizing that sinners often fall again.  However, for a Bishop to allow an offending priest to continue ministry after two or three reprimands is inexcusable if not criminal.
Due to media hype and other factors, the public often did not realize that only some 20% of the abusive predator priests were true pedophiles, those who prey on prepubescent children. Instead around 80% of victims were adolescents, usually teenage boys. While much discussion has focused on homosexual priests preying on young men it is important to recall that a significant number of victims (19%) were young women who too were betrayed by priests they had come to trust and admire. In any case, whether homosexual or heterosexual, these priests chose to break their vow of celibacy to satisfy their own desires rather than focus on the needs of the people they were called to shepherd.

About 70% of the wayward priests were ordained before 1970.    When it all came to light, the wave of lawsuits (over 3000) for over $3 billion put the Church under severe financial strain, even bankrupting some dioceses while seriously hurting their apostolic and charitable work.
  These wayward priests have done more harm to the Church than the devil himself could by betraying their vow of celibacy, betraying their people, the Church, and God.  The faithful, including parents, trusted the priests without question, but were betrayed.  The victimized children and adolescents (about 11,000 under 18 since 1950) trusted the priests, but their dignity and innocence were destroyed plus the endurance of a lifetime of psychological wounds.  The Church bears a grave responsibility to help the victims recover from their psychological wounds.  These scandals are tremendous blows to the faith.  It's so sad that a few bad priests drive so many Catholics out of the Church. “Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture” (Jer 23:1). 

But let us remember that God is in control now as He always was, speaking through the prophets of the Old Testament in condemning corruption and warning of the material and spiritual consequences of sin.  After being defeated by other countries, the Jews did repent and ancient Israel became prosperous and powerful once more until the people drifted away from God again as we are doing today.  Will we fall as a nation because of moral decay?
Today. The prelates learned from the wave of clerical abuse scandals resulting from revelations by victims now adults in the first several years of this century.  Today anyone who works with youth in a parish is screened by the police and even the FBI with background checks.  Furthermore every catechetical teacher is required to attend an annual child protection workshop conducted by the diocese.  Sacristy doors must be open at all times.  

     Today an accused priest is suspended from his clerical duties until cleared by an investigation ……. often guilty until proven innocent.  It’s “one strike and you’re out”. Bishops must inform the authorities of such accusations and no priest is immune from prison time.  Today new seminarians are rigorously screened and eliminated if there is a danger of acting out any homosexual tendency in violating his vow of celibacy.  Recently ordained priests show great promise.

     There is more detail in the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People”, formulated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2002 and revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018 (See http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/charter.cfm).  It did not apply to the bishops themselves because disciplinary measures are under the jurisdiction of the Vatican.

     It seemed we were past those scandals; few if any allegations of clerical sexual abuse occurred in the past 25 years.  But more old dirt came to light as the biblical admonition says.  It would have been better if it all came out back in 2002.  We cannot continue to go from one crisis to another.  

Because corruption eventually comes to light, we need transparency now…….to get it all out now, all the dirt, no matter the hierarchical level, no matter the consequences.  If the Church does not do it, some ambitious state attorney generals will.  Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C. and Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop of Galveston-Houston both advocated transparent accountability.  The truth will make us free.     

    Let’s pray and offer sacrifices for the renewal of the Church, that it have the courage to investigate all allegations and suspend or even defrock the guilty, including bishops.  It’s a matter of justice; the Church owes it to the victims.  If some have to go to prison, so be it.  Every guilty priest should take responsibility, make an apology, and do public penance.  Then the Church can be purified and renewed so that its truth and splendor become radiant.

    It is a step in the right direction to suspend now Archbishop McCarrick from public ministry, confining him to a life of prayer and pennance and to ask him to resign from the College of Cardinals.  Perhaps Providence has allowed him to live to the ripe old age of 88 so that he can see how the biblical admonition affected him and what damage he has done.  All the good that he has done is overshadowed by this scandal even though he certainly repented of his sins long ago.  Better yet if he would confess the wrongs he has done to the Church and the faithful by making a public apology and doing public penance as has been done in the Church in years past.  That would have a cleansing effect.  He is now facing a canonical trial.
When Byzantine Catholic Fr. Basil Sheregy (R.I.P.) related to me that he does spiritual reading and prayer up to 8 hours a day, I asked in amazement, “Why so much?”  He answered:  “There is nobody in this world more happy than a good priest and nobody in this world more miserable than a bad priest."  When a priest neglects his prayer life, he’s headed for trouble as his resistance to temptation is lessened. Bishop Sheen had a daily holy hour without fail and composed his television talks in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

The fallen away and the weak in faith do not realize that the Jesus Christ is always with us and the GATES OF HELL SHALL NEVER PREVAIL AGAINST THE CHURCH He founded (Matthew 16:18).  “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).  And we are seeing that.  

According to one quote, “If sin and corruption in the Church would justify leaving it, I would have left it after Judas betrayed Christ and hanged himself”.  The Mystical Body of Christ, the Church is holy, but often those in it are not.  Throughout history the Church has been full of heroic saints and also despicable sinners among the laity and often the religious who profess to give their lives to God.
However, no amount of corruption and no sin by any priest or bishop can take anything away from the essence of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ……..the holy sacrifice of the Mass, the Eucharist and the other sacraments as sources of grace, the devotions, the guidance, catechetics, the schools, the charitable work, all to help us on our journey to eternity.  If people, laity and religious alike, would only follow the Gospel and Church teaching, they would be much happier and avoid a lot of misery.

 Where Sin Abounds, Grace Abounds the More 

St. Francis of Assisi
St. Teresa of Avila

St. Ignatius Loyola
St. Teresa of Avila

St. Charles Borromeo
Over the centuries whenever the Church is in crisis or engulfed in corruption, God would raise up great saints to rescue the faithful, clean up the mess, and be catalysts of reform.  The same is happening in modern times.

      Over the centuries God raised up great saints to clean up messes after periods of corruption.  Christ told St. Francis (1182-1226) in the 13th Century “Rebuild my Church” and he did along with such great saints as St. Clare (1194-1253), St. Dominic (1170-1221), St. Thomas Aquinas (1227-1274), and many others.  In the 14th century, St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) bemoaned the “stench of sin” coming from the papal court and prophesied that even the demons were disgusted by the homosexual activity they had tempted priests into and the cover up by their superiors!

    Corruption and sin laid the ground work for the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century which tore the Church apart and we still suffer from it today, but God raised the great saints of the Counter-reformation………St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), St. Philip Neri (1515-1595), St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), and so many more that St. John Bellarmine called the 16th Century the “Century of the Saints.

That’s the beauty of it all.  The devil worked so hard to destroy the Church during its very inception starting with Judas.  It took 300 years of persecution before the Church was finally established in the Roman Empire.  Then the centuries of alternating periods of holiness and corruption followed.  There were even corrupt popes.  The devil was always there trying to destroy the Church starting with his two primary targets, families and priests, as he is trying to do at this very moment.
Napoleon Bonaparte told Pope Pius VI that he would destroy the Church.  The good Pope answered, “We ourselves tried to destroy it and could not; you won’t either”.  Adolph Hitler tried; Joseph Stalin tried; Mao Zedong tried; many other tyrants tried.  If the Church were simply a human institution it would have never survived for 20 centuries.  The Church would have been placed on the ash heap of history.  

But the Church is also divine.  Thus we know that the gates of hell shall never, never prevail, no matter how bad the scandal.  It is miraculous that the Church has gotten through every sort of crisis for almost 2000 years.  It will get through this crisis as well and with the help of God come out stronger for it.  As members of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, we ask for forgiveness from God and the victims, resolving to do our part in the renewal of  the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Sources of Possible Interest

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_sexual_abuse_cases - an overview of Catholic Church sexual abuse cases with a summary of the John Jay Report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  The research was done by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York.  The link to the complete report is:


Sunday, April 22, 2018

(207) THE FOUNDING AMERICAN IDEALS & RIGHTS BETRAYED: FROM SLAVERY TO ABORTION.........May we make the ideals of our founding fathers a reality in our businesses, communities, and ultimately in our nation.


Paintings of the Declaration of Independence (1776) by Trumbull in Independence Hall in Philadelphia.  The signers of the declaration risked their lives and property for freedom which is costly to obtain and then maintain.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ---” (From the Declaration of Independence https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript).  

        Thomas Jefferson wrote the draft and is considered to be the father of the Declaration of Independence.  He didn’t like his writing to be revised by the cosigners.  The Jesuit educated Catholic Charles Carroll (1737-1832), a plantation owner in Maryland, was one of the 56 signers.

The Constitutional Convention (1787) in Independence Hall, Philadelphia.  In the photo George Washington is recognizable and so is Benjamin Franklin who at 81 had to be carried in.  The original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and the Bill of Rights can be seen by all in the Archives Building in Washington, D.C.  It has excellent displays that give a panoramic view of United States History. 
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America” (Preamble of the Constitution with James Madison the lead author.  There were 39 signers of the final document.  See https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript).
As can be seen above, both foundational documents are based upon Christian values.  Thomas Jefferson only had an indirect influence upon the Constitution through letters since he was abroad as the American minister to France.  His best friend, James Madison, whom he mentored, took leadership and is considered to be the Father of the Constitution and the architect of the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments of the Constitution), having drafted much of it and promoted its ratification.  The United States Constitution was the first of its kind in the world and was a model for later constitutions.  Poland framed the second constitution which must have been influenced by Revolutionary War hero, General Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1746-1817), George Washington’s chief engineer and friend of Thomas Jefferson.

The constitutional convention was deadlocked and apparently not going anywhere.  Thus the members decided to take a recess for a few days for prayer and fasting.  When they returned, everything fell into place.  The system of checks and balances is ingenious as are the compromises to satisfy both small and large states.  Our country is indeed a nation under God.  Most of the founding fathers were men of faith as was the country as a whole.

     The French Revolution of 1789 had many of the same ideals, but went in a different direction.  Its basis was the so called secular and godless enlightenment.  It deteriorated into a bloody reign of terror, especially against the former royal aristocracy and the Church.  Many priests and nuns were guillotined for the faith.  Those who could fled.  Five hundred of them got as far as the New World in 1790 and founded the town of Gallipolis, Ohio, the French city.  My own St. Louis Church has its roots in the French 500.
     The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were revolutionary for the time.  With the world dominated by monarchies and their aristocracies, the colonies came up with the concept of government by the consent of the governed with basic freedoms of speech, press, assembly, religion, etc., due process, trial by an impartial jury, among others.  Have we remained true to these ideals?

       Interesting is that the founding fathers were for the most part men of God and well versed in the Bible with a Christian world view.  Although some were deists, 52 of the 55 framers of the Constitution belonged to a church.  James Madison, considered to be the father of the U.S. Constitution, as the author of the first draft, said: 

"We have staked the whole of all our political Institutions upon the capacity of mankind for Self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to The Ten Commandments of God."

If secularized America continues to drift away from God and the Ten Commandments (displayed in the United States Supreme Court) are prohibited from being displayed in our public schools and public places......can the vision of James Madison for our country long endure?  Then will our society eventually collapse as the Roman Empire did? 
      WomenOver our history these freedoms applied only to white males.  Women were not permitted to vote or run for public office until the 20th Century.  Women are still catching up to day in regard to equal pay for equal work and are victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.  The glass ceiling for executive advancement has weakened considerably, but is still there.  

     Catholics were persecuted although not martyred.  It was intense under the Know Nothing Party when Catholic churches were burnt down in the 1840s.  In 1928 the Catholic candidate for president, Alfred Smith was vehemently opposed by Protestants.  Finally in 1960 a Catholic did become president in a close election, but John Kennedy’s faith was still an issue.

       Our treatment of the Indians is a blot on our history.  As the frontier expanded to the west, we forced them off of their lands through numerous wars.  We made treaties with the Indians and then broke them.  We forced the Indians to live on reservations where unemployment and alcoholism are high and the standard of living is low.  Today Indians have the freedom to leave the reservations and find opportunity outside, but to break out of that is not easy.   
Immigrants and Jews were victims of prejudice well into the 20th Century.  Groups, such as the Ku Klux Clan persecuted minorities while local governments looked the other way.  Unskilled workers were exploited with very low wages and poor working conditions.  None of these groups had equal opportunity for the better jobs and had to fight for their rights.   Because of the prejudice in hiring, many Jews simply started their own businesses and did well, causing jealousy and even more prejudice.  During a wave of Irish immigration in the 19th Century, there were signs:  “Irish need not apply” for job openings. 

Do our present problems with illegal immigration during a period of full employment have a xenophobic component?  Nevertheless, many, especially sons and daughters of immigrants have come a long way and many did achieve the American dream. Paying low wages did provide enough capital for self-sustaining expansion and the economic take off of the U.S. in the late 19th Century.
Thomas Jefferson’s plantation at Monticello, Virginia.  His home is in the upper left corner.  

A slave cabin.  Jefferson owned about 600 slaves over his life.
    Slaves were excluded all together, treated as subhuman property with no liberty and no rights at all.  The slave owners believed that they had the right to beat their slaves into submission, break up families in the slave trade, and even rape the women.  They kept most slaves unskilled and illiterate.  The universal Church condemned the slave trade, but the American Church, powerless to do much, lived with the status quo.  Slavery is the biggest blots on our history, a national historical sin begging forgiveness.

Slaves at work picking cotton.

A slave family in the old South.
  Many of the framers of the Constitution struggled with the issue of slavery or were opposed to it, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, but they still owned slaves.  Only George Washington provided for freeing all of his slaves in his will.  General Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a hero of the American Revolution as well as in Poland’s fight with  Czarist Russia to exist as a country in the early 1790s, walked the walk.  His love of liberty was so intense that he bought slaves and gave them their freedom.  In addition he provided money in his will for freeing and educating slaves.
The Slave Trade - an advertisement posted in a public place.

        Since the founding fathers knew that the southern states would never join the union if slavery were abolished, they left it up to future generations to deal with it.  Slavery was too ingrained in the culture.  They considered slavery to be an economic necessity to maintain their life style.  The slave owners rationalized that they were “taking care of these ‘uncivilized inferior’ people who are incapable of taking care of themselves and treating them well”.  “We love our nigras”.  Thomas Jefferson, for example, had some of his male slaves learn to read and write and acquire other skills such as blacksmithing.

The permanent scars of brutal beatings.

     Don’t we also make ridiculous rationalizations today regarding the unborn?…..that the fetus is just a blob of tissue; they aren’t human beings or persons yet; that women can do anything they want with their bodies; these babies would be neglected; they would be an economic burden, an inconvenience, etc.  These rationalizations are made to maintain hedonistic life styles while working toward or maintaining a career.

Are we even more cruel in depriving unborn babies of their right to life, using painful saline solution to extinguish their lives, dismembering their bodies in the womb even though they can feel pain and according to ultra sound videos resist and fight for their lives, (16th Century England called it quartering in the persecution of Catholics).  Do we claim to be gods in deciding which unborn baby should live and which pregnancies should be terminated (using abortionist language)…….in reality life exterminated?  How many gifted people, even geniuses, possible saints, and potential Hall of Fame athletes have we deprived of the right to live?   We can only imagine what they would have contributed to society, perhaps a cancer cure.  Who knows?
 Sin Has Consequences.  Thomas Jefferson saw slavery as depravity and predicted that our country would suffer the consequences for many years to come.  It was a prophecy come true.  Our country had to suffer through a long and bloody Civil War that almost destroyed the union.  Following that, we had years of segregation plus racial prejudice and strife that continue to this day.  That calls to mind how the Jews suffered through the breakup of the kingdom after King Solomon's sins of offering sacrifices to the pagan gods of his wives.
Will our nation suffer the consequences of having killed over 50 million babies since 1973 as sacrifices to the pagan gods of convenience, pleasure, and money?  Will we have a severe shortage of young people needed to support the old people?  China and Europe already have this problem.  Refusing to follow God and the resulting sins have consequences.  God doesn’t have to punish us; we punish ourselves.

Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Staunton, Virginia.  After so many years of slavery, segregation, and racism, it was beautiful to assist at Mass presided by Fr. Joseph Wamala, who was born in Uganda.  To see an essentially white congregation of 600 families accepting a black pastor shows how far the Deep South has come, considering that even in Catholic churches blacks once had to sit in the back.  Who knows?  Some of Fr. Wamala’s distant relatives may have been slaves.  For years we sent missionaries to Africa; now they're sending missionaries to us because of a lack of vocations.
This  vibrant parish has a Crisis Pregnancy Center in the struggle for life, a boy scout troop, a Knights of Columbus council, library, and daily Eucharistic Adoration, averaging almost ten hours per day.  It is unbelievable how well dressed the congregation was at a well attended 7:15 am Sunday Mass.  The men wore suits and the women wore a head covering.  See http://stfrancisparish.org.
     We have come a long way in achieving racial and social justice while the pro-life vs. pro-abortion war still rages, but we still have a long way to go to truly achieve and maintain one nation under God with liberty and justice for all……born and unborn regardless of race, color, religion, ethnicity, or gender.  At least by prayer and example, in big ways or little ways……let’s do our part as citizens and leaders to make the ideals of our founding fathers a reality, first in your business and your community……and ultimately in our nation.  Then America will be truly great! 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

(206) Discovering and Visiting Our Long Lost Hungarian Relatives in the Ukraine

From left to right are Ella & Disiderius (Dezső) Voloszinovich, Rev. Vladimir & Olga Mihalich.  Behind them are Irene, Martha, Stephanie, and Lilly on the extreme right.   The picture was taken in 1918 or so in present day Slovakia, then part of Austria-Hungary.

       My grandfather, Rev. Vladimir Mihalich (1874-
1943) and his wife Olga Podhajezky (1881-1964) 
had five daughters: Ella (1900-1982), Lilly 
(1902-1987), Irene (1904-2005), Martha (1907-1994),
and the baby of the family, Stephanie (1908-2006).
Because of conditions after World War I, they
immigrated to the land of opportunity, the United 
States in 1921.  However, they left Ella behind since 
she had married Disiderius (Dezső) Voloszinovich 
(1897-1974), a seminarian in 1918 and already had 
two children, Helen Ilona or Ilus (1919 - ?) and Catarina 
(1921 - ?).  Later Ella had two more children, 
Alexander (1924 - ?) and finally the baby Erzsébet or 
Elizabeth (born 1929).

                                 Ella Mihalich Voloszinovich  
         Abandoned by her husband in the early 1930s, Ella 
heroically managed with faith, courage, and 
determination to raise the four children by herself.  
She moved them to Uzhgorod in 1936 for a better 
education.  It’s amazing how she managed.  
What a terrible legacy that the weakness of
Dezső left, extending to at least the fourth generation!
Erzse did reconcile with him and forgave him before
his death.  Ella never did.
I never met my Aunt Ella, but she knew all about us.  Ella was always part of our extended family.  At least we were able to visit her grave and place some flowers on it as a tribute to a heroic woman.  May she rest in peace.

       Helen Ilona (Ilus) married Tibor Gyumoles in 1944 and had three children, Olga (b 1945), Istvan (b 1948), and Kathy (b 1952).  Catarina married Nicolos Timco in 1946 and had three children, George (b 1947), Kathy (b 1949), and Magdaline (b 1950).  Alexander married Margaret Povsik in 1949 and had two children, Margaret (b 1950) and Alexander (b 1958).

       Alexander probably missed serving in the army during World War II since the Ukraine was under German occupation when he reached his 18th birthday in 1942.
       Only Erzsé, Ella’s youngest daughter, is still living, a spry, mentally sharp, and charming 88 years old.  Erzsé, married Istvan Borosh I (1922 - 1998) in 1955, with whom she has a daughter, Elizabeth (b 1956) and a son, Istvan II (b 1960), who married Gertrud (Greti b 1962), the parents of Istvan III (b 1989) and Viktoria (b 1983) who married Jaroslav Ihnatenko. Viktoria and Jaroslav have a six year old son, Denis and live in Kiev. 
Lost and Found. Grandma Stephanie (my mother) kept contact with her oldest sister, Aunt Ella, After World War II Stephanie and her parents sent packages to help her in the years of scarcity under a shattered economy after World War II.  After Aunt Ella died in 1982, Stephanie continued to correspond with her neice Erzsé and sent photos of her children and grandchildren.  Tim (Irene’s grandson) and Barbara Loya did some pathfinding and visited the Borosh family in 1993, but Erzsé was not at home that day.  They inspired us to do the same.  Istvan III was little more than a toddler as seen in the photo below.  Since Grandma Stephanie’s death at the age of 97 in 2006 (well before that she had less energy and did not correspond as much), we lost contact and the Borosh family became lost relatives.

Tim and Barbara Loya were the first pioneers or pathfinders in finding the Borosh family in 1993,  In the photo is Baby Istvan III 25 years ago, being held by his mother, Greti.  To the right is her husband Istvan II, our cousin Helen Ilona or Ilus (Erzsé’s oldest sister), and young Tim Loya.  Barbara is behind the camera.

However, Aunt Ella’s great-grandson Istvan III, through his grandmother Erzsé learned about us and, being very resourceful, found our daughter Naomi on Facebook in 2016.  Naomi got his e-mail address for me and we were in full contact.  His English is good; his very intelligent and beautiful wife Anita’s English is excellent.

       Jaga and I just got back from the Holy Land to Rzeszów which is about six hours from their home in Uzhgorod in the Ukraine.  So we had to take advantage of the opportunity to visit our long lost relatives and bring the Mihalich Extended Family East and West, Old World and New World together.  So we visited Aunt Ella’s great grandson Istvan III & his lovely wife Anita, his parents, Istvan II & wife Greti, and my first cousin Erzsé, all of whom live in the same house.
       Before and after our pilgrimage to the Holy Land, we stayed with our wonderful friends, the Kaplita family.  After living in Allentown, Pennsylvania (USA) for a couple of years, they decided to return to Poland.  Their two lovely daughters speak excellent English.  Asia teaches it.  We were supposed to meet Janusz and drive to Uzhgorod, but he took sick.  Janek Kaplita heroically did us a huge favor by driving us for over two hours to a major city in the middle of Slovakia from where we caught a bus to Uzhgorod.  Jaga spoke Polish and the Slovakians understood.

       Benefits of the European Union.  We drove from Poland to Slovakia as though traveling from Pennsylvania to its neighboring state of Ohio.  Passports are not required.  However, the Ukraine is not a member of the European Union.  Thus crossing the border in our bus involved over an hour wait to pass through customs.  Crossing from the Ukraine back to Poland, we were stuck at the border checkpoint for over three hours since they inspected our suitcases.  It’s much worse with passenger cars.

Uzhgorod was first settled by Slavs who built a fortress there.  It was then conquered by Hungarian tribes under Arpad.  Thus the region was part of Hungary as Hungvar since the year 895, but became a part of the Austrian Empire by conquest (1804 – 1867), then under a political compromise, the empire was called Austria-Hungary (1867 – 1918).  The victorious allies carved up Europe after World War I and gave Hungvar to Czechoslovakia (1919 -1938) who changed the name to Uzhgorod.  Germany gave it back to Hungary (1938 – 1944), but the conquering Soviet Union annexed it to the Soviet Republic of Ukraine (1944 – 1991).  When Communism was overthrown, Uzhgorod remained part of a free Ukraine (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uzhhorod).

       Uzhgorod was very Hungarian for over a thousand years.  According to the 1910 census, 80.3% of the 17,000 inhabitants were Hungarian.  About 30% of that population was also Jewish, but the Nazis first forced them into ghettos and later sent them to Auschwitz for extermination.  The Soviets did ethnic cleansing by deporting, jailing, or murdering most of the Hungarians.  Nevertheless, Uzhgorod’s roots are still Hungarian.  The Borosh family speaks Hungarian at home and even has its clocks there on Budapest time (one hour behind) to be in sync with the Hungarian TV programs they receive on by satellite ?.  A statue of the great poet, Sandor Petofi below is one of the indications of Hungarian roots of Uzhgorod.  My father would rave about him and show us with pride the book of his poems he won for being best student as a kid.  

We finally arrived and waited in the intercity bus station of Uzhgorod.  Istvan and Anita  only knew that we would be arriving in the late afternoon or evening.  They were looking for us at the border since crossing would be so complicated.  How do we contact them?  I had my laptop and the little bus station had Wy Fy.  They had their i-phones.  So Istvan and Anita received our e-mail and within ten minutes they couldn’t miss those two foreigners with their suitcases straight from the Holy Land and Rzeszow, Poland.  It was a happy meeting.  Amidst the hugs, I exclaimed: “She’s beautiful”.

Aunt Ella had moved her four children from Presov to Uzhgorod in 1936.  She was very resourceful and hard working, being especially good in sewing and crocheting.  Thus Ella was able to purchase a small house.  Later Erzsé’s family of four lived in it.  The next generation, Erszé’s son Istvan II and his family of four lived there with his mother.  Today Istvan II and Greti take care of his mother Erzsé, while Istvan III and his wife Anita live upstairs.  Along the way the family added on rooms.  It’s so beautiful how Erzsé took care of her mother Ella and now her son Istvan II and Greti take care of his mother…..all in the same house.  A nursing home was out of the question.  Isn’t that the way it should be if at all possible?


From left to right, Erzsé, Istvan II & Gertrud (Greti) Borosh, Paul & Jaga, and Anita & Istvan III Borosh.
Erzsé shows us her album of old family pictures, including all the ones that Mom sent her.
Aunt Ella’s picture is just below the old picture of the Mihalich family.

It was such a wonderful time we had together.  Sunday evening we had supper together with Erzsé, her son Istvan II & daughter-in-law Greti, and Istvan III & his wife Anita.  To my great surprise Erzsé had a family album that included my parents and American extended family (Sebastians, Foleys, and Elds when we were growing up).  It even had a 1933 picture of my mother when she was Maid of Honor for the Martha & Aksel Eld wedding, and my parents’ wedding picture in 1934.  
Because of my mother’s letters and included photos, Erzsé knew about me, Jaga, and our children as well as John and his family.  She knew about the great job that Jaga did in taking care of my mother.  It was such a thrill to meet them all, especially Erzsé, my first cousin.  They gave us great bag of gifts and souvenirs to bring back to the United States.  The conversation was English – Hungarian – English, no Ukranian, although they all speak it.  It was a joy to hear Hungarian, which I have been getting away from.  What little Hungarian I know came back to me.
I had hoped to spend more time with Erzsé on Monday, but she wasn’t feeling well.  I think that we exhausted her the night before.  Tuesday we had to leave for Lviv and back to Kielce, Poland and the home of Jaga’s sister Marysia and husband Janusz.  We did learn a lot about Aunt Ella’s extended family.  Anita did a masterful job of translating from English to Hungarian and vice versa.  Since her father was a Russian army officer stationed in Germany, she never lived in Russia.  Her mother is Hungarian.

Their family business. Istvan II took advantage of an opportunity to be the representative and distributor of building materials produced by a Hungarian company in Budapest.  The distributorship became a family business with his wife, while Istvan III, and Anita having important roles.  Istvan III was interrupted by several phone calls while taking us on a tour of Uzhgorod.  They’ve built up the business, providing work for people, and it has been rather successful.  This is just another example where people, once under Communist domination, can prosper when they are free to be enterprising and creative.  I wish we had time to visit the business.  On Monday evening I commented to Istvan II that he had a long day.  He voiced his frustration: “It’s difficult doing business in the Ukraine because of so much corruption”.  That is the legacy of Communism……..do whatever it takes to get around the bureaucracy.
The Ukraine is still far behind Poland and Hungary in its economic development, but there’s tremendous potential.  The Ukraine is progressing.  Potholed streets and roads are common.  The highway between Uzhgorod and Lviv is very substandard…..bumpy and narrow.  At the rest stop, the rest room was   squatting only like I remember years ago in France of the 1960s.  Lviv, sometimes called the “Little Paris of the East”, a big cultural center and very European, seemed to be doing well with construction projects going on.  

Probably the biggest obstacle to development is the mentality inherited from Communism and centuries of Russian domination.  It is manifested in corruption, bureaucracy, inefficiency, and dependence upon government and welfare.  I noticed much of the same in Poland, but they are overcoming it with rapid development.  Another big obstacle is the fact that the Ukraine is fighting a war against Russian speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine who want to be annexed by Russia.  Vladimir Putin, of course, is all for it and helping them.  In Lviv we noticed that there were many soldiers coming and going at the railroad/bus station.

The dollar goes a long way in the Ukraine since their currency is weak.  The century old hotel, five star in its day, but very good today, only cost about $25 per night.  A taxi only costs a couple of dollars.
Istvan III and Anita were most gracious in taking us on a tour of Uzhgorod and then helping us with booking transportation to Lviv and Poland.  For a video tour of Uzhgorod click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNRp_lvsFcE.  It describes Uzhgorod as “Located on the border with Slovakia, Uzhgorod is one of the less known gems of Europe.”  

On Sunday evening we walked in the old city among the shops, restaurants with outside tables, and street vendors.  Some sort of festival was going on.  The beautiful Uzh River (not navigable) skirts the city.  The next day we walked across one of its bridges.  The city is very quaint with an old European flavor.  It made me think: “That’s how it was when my father lived in Austria-Hungary from 1899 until 1924 when he immigrated to the United States. 

  The next day Istvan and Anita took us to the Divine Liturgy of the Greek Catholic Church.  It was probably offered for a deceased loved one since attendance for a Monday was very good.  The singing in old Slav is so much more impressive than its adaptation to English.  Since Istvan I was Roman Catholic, Erzsé followed; my mother changed rites for the same reason.  Although we are of the Latin Rite, part of our heritage is Greek Catholic (Byzantine Rite) and we’re proud of it.

The                                         Holy Cross Greek Catholic Cathedral in Uzhgorod.  Churches are being restored now.

  Then they took us to the old Uzhgorod Castle pictured.  It was part of the defense of the city in medieval times.  Then we visited the neighboring Museum of Folk Architecture and Life that depicted country life in the 19th Century and before.  The original buildings were moved here from the country.  Fr. Vladimir Mihalich was pastor of five rural churches similar to the one below before immigrating to the United States.  He would travel from church to church by horse and buggy.  Following that, we had a traditional dinner at the restaurant there.

In the afternoon we did some shopping, visited a wine cellar, and the local university which is old and lacking in resources.  We also visited Aunt Ella’s grave.  That’s the closest I’ll get to her on this side of eternity.  Someday in eternity, we’ll all be together for a reunion even more beautiful as the one we had with her daughter Erzsé.
I’m so grateful to Istvan III for uniting our extended family.  It was an exciting trip.  Anita arranged for us to travel by a local bus to Lviv and change to an international bus to Kielce, Poland.  We had about seven hours to get acquainted with Lviv the great cultural center that changed hands over the years between Poland, Russia, and the Ukraine.  For some videos on Lviv, click on

We tried taking a taxi to the center of the city, but that was a negative experience.  I didn’t notice, but Jaga sensed that we might be robbed.  The taxi driver signaled somebody and then made a phone call while being very nervous…….all very suspicious.  To make sure, Jaga said she had to go badly to the bathroom, paid the guy and got me out.  It would be very easy for a taxi driver to take us to some abandoned place.  However, that was cancelled out by a random act of kindness.  We checked our baggage at the railway station, but did not have enough Ukrainian money.  The person next in line so kindly paid for it.  So we traveled by trolley.  Jaga was a huge help in us getting around.  She simply spoke in Polish and the Ukrainians understood.  The languages are very close.

There seems to be a religious revival going on in the Ukraine.   I noticed a disproportionate number of groups from the Ukraine visiting the Holy Land.  Uzhgorod has Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, and Orthodox churches.  In Lviv we stumbled upon a beautiful 18th Century Jesuit church, St. Peter & Paul Garrison Church for the military.  The Soviets shut it down and converted it into a book depository.  It fell into disrepair.  When the Ukraine obtained its freedom in 1991, the Government gave it to the Greek Catholic Church.  Now they are restoring it to its former beauty.  This vividly brought to mind the words of Christ from the Gospel of Matthew 16:18……..“THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT”.

Around 5 pm we took an international bus across the border through customs and finally the bus left us off in Kielce, Poland at about 3 am.  It was all such a great experience and an adventure. 

I really hope that many of our relatives become facebook friends with Istvan.  All it takes is for either Istvan or one of the relatives to make a friend request.

Appendix – Other Photos of Uzhgorod and the Museum of Old Rural Life

Views of a Rustic Church and Homes in the Museum of Rural Life in Uzhgorod in the Ukraine