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Servant of God 

Demetrius Gallitzin

"Apostle of the Alleghenies"




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Bishop Names Roman Postulator For Gallitzin Cause

Father Luis Escalante Will Present Documentation To Congregation For Causes Of Saints

The Catholic Register - 11 February 2013

Father Luis F. Escalante, a priest living and working in Italy, has been named Roman Postulator for the Cause of the Servant of God Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, by Bishop Mark L. Bartchak.

In announcing the Wednesday, January 23 appointment, Bishop Mark said "I am pleased that we will be having the assistance of Father Escalante who will be working on Father Gallitzinís Cause in Rome. Father Escalante is a specialist in this type of work.

"It is good to have someone of his ability and availability to be working on the Cause in Rome."

Like Bishop Mark, Father Escalante holds a doctorate in Canon Law, and "It is our good fortune that Father and I have known each other for some time, and have worked together," according to Bishop Mark.

"From our conversations," the Bishop said, "I am even more optimistic about how the Cause will proceed in Rome."

The newly - appointed Roman Postulator shares that optimism as he takes up his duties.

Speaking to The Catholic Register at the Diocesan Administration Center in Hollidaysburg on the day he received his appointment, Father Escalante said that so much work has been done locally, that he expects to be able to present the documentation of the Cause to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican "surely before the end of the year."

Father Escalante said that while he had "a general idea" of who Father Gallitzin was before being named Roman Postulator, from having read Dr. Matthew Bunsonís biography of the Prince - Priest, "I wanted to see with my own eyes what has been happening with Demetrius Gallitzinís Cause since it was officially opened in the Diocese of Altoona - Johnstown in 2007."

The priest was "surprised to find that just about everything was ready," for presentation of the documentation in Rome. "What is needed is someone to organize the documents.

"I have seen that the work of the local Theological Commission is done. The Historical Commission needs some direction in compiling their final report. That will require some months of work."

Father Escalante credits Diocesan Postulators Frank and Betty Seymour and those who have been working with them on the two local commissions for having done an amazing amount of work that now can be brought to completion. But, he cautioned, there are still steps that must be taken on the diocesan level, before the Cause can move to Rome.

"We need to hear from witnesses about the continuing fame of sanctity of Father Gallitzin," he said, explaining that it must be shown that Father Gallitzin "had a reputation for holiness in his lifetime, and how that reputation has continued since his death in 1840."

Because there are no longer any living, direct witnesses to Father Gallitzinís life and ministry, much of that reputation for holiness must be proved from written sources such as early biographies of the Prince and newspaper accounts of his era. Because of a reliance on such sources, Father Gallitzinís is an "historical Cause," Father Escalante explained.

"And the amount of documentation available about Father Gallitzin and his reputation for holiness is not usual in historical causes," he said, noting that in the case of Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin "there is a mountain of documents showing his reputation for sanctity."

With those documents organized, it will remain, Father Escalante said "to speak to witnesses about current devotion to Father Gallitzin in this area."

When all of that work is completed, which the Roman Postulator expects will be before the end of 2013, "I will come back for the closing of the diocesan part of the Cause, and will take the documents back with me to Rome."

The conclusion of the Causeís work on the local level will mark an intensification of his own labors, Father Escalante explained.

As "coordinator of the final phases of the work," Father Escalante will await the judgment of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on the validity of the diocesan process. When that decision is given, the Congregation will appoint an official called a "relatore" to help Father Escalante complete a document called a "positio."

"The relatore acts like the director of a doctoral dissertation," Father Escalante said. "The positio - - a document of no more than 500 pages - - presents the work of the diocesan historical commission and theological commission. It will truly be a collaborative venture of all those who have been working on Father Gallitzinís Cause."

The positio will be "the subject of deliberation in Rome," Father Escalante said. It will be examined for accuracy against the original documents of the Cause. There will be a vote on its contents by a panel of historians, and another vote by a panel of theologians. Only after those votes will it be presented to the Cardinals and Bishops making up the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for a definitive vote on whether or not the Servant of God Demetrius Gallitzin practiced the virtues in an heroic manner. If that vote is favorable, a decree from the Holy Father will confer the title "Venerable" on the Servant of God.

Father Escalante planned to begin working on the positio when he returned to Rome after his meetings with Bishop Mark, even before the appointment of a relatore. "This Cause has been waiting for too long," Father Escalante said. "To bring it along will bring happiness to those who have been waiting so patiently."

As Roman Postulator, Father Escalante has also been charged by Bishop Mark to investigate any extraordinary favors that are alleged to have been granted to the faithful through the intercession of Father Gallitzin. These investigations constitute a separate process, Father Escalante said, and must be conducted in a timely manner "so as not to lose proof" of what is alleged to have happened.

Though, as Roman Postulator he can conduct his investigation of a reported favor at any time, Father Escalante said, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints would only become involved in the investigation once the Servant of God is named "Venerable."

The favors he hopes to investigate are usually called "miracles," which Father Escalante defined as "a suspension of the natural law - - the physical law.

"This usually involves a medical healing, but they can be any form of an extraordinary event," he said, "and can happen anywhere, not just in the Diocese of Altoona - Johnstown."

Father Escalante concluded "I hope that the people of God will continue to ask for the intercession of the Servant of God Demetrius Gallitzin.

"We hope for proof of a divine sign from heaven, of Father Gallitzinís intercession, in order to show that God wishes him to be recognized as a true saint of the Church."