Cause for the Canonization of
Servant of God
"Apostle of the Alleghenies"
Sainthood cause of prince-priest, Father Gallitzin, advances
By Monsignor Timothy P. Stein
Catholic Online - 5 March 2007LORETTO, PA. (The Catholic Register) - The effort to have the pioneer missionary of the Allegheny Mountains recognized as a saint will take a major step forward this month.
On March 11, Bishop Joseph V. Adamec will preside at the opening session of the diocesan inquiry for the cause of canonization of the Servant of God Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin. The. ceremony, which will be followed by Mass, will take place at the Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel in Loretto. The public is invited to attend this unique, historic event.
According to Monsignor Michael E. Servinsky S.T.L, J.C.L., D. Min., Bishop Adamec’s delegate to the Cause and Vicar General, the ceremony will begin with the presentation of a petition to the Bishop to initiate the Cause from the “postulators” - - Frank and Betty Seymour of Loretto - “the persons asking the diocese to undertake such an inquiry.”
Following Bishop Adamec’s acceptance of the petition, members of two commissions appointed by him will take their oaths of office.
The inquiry to be initiated March 11 is called an “historical process,” Monsignor Servinsky said, because there are no living eyewitnesses to the life and ministry of Father Gallitzin who ministered in Loretto from 1799 until his death in 1840. The investigation into his reputation for sanctity will be undertaken by an Historical Commission and a Theological Commission.
Named to the Historical Commission are:
- Father Charles Connor Ph.D., a priest from the Diocese of Scranton who is a noted Church historian and a frequent guest on the EWTN network;
- Matthew Bunson D.Min., the co - author with his mother, Margaret of the 1999 book Apostle Of The Alleghenies: Reverend Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin;
- John Coleman Ph.D., professor emeritus at Saint Francis University, Loretto, and an expert in American history from 1750 - 1860, the time period of Father Gallitzin’s ministry;
- Father Albert Ledoux, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Beaverdale, Pa.,a candidate for a doctorate in Church history;
- Dr. Stephen Rombouts.
“It will be the responsibility of the Historical Commission to review Father Gallitzin’s writings from a perspective of how he fit into the milieu of the day,” Monsignor Servinsky explained.
The members of the Theological Commission, who will examine Father Gallitzin’s writings to make sure there is nothing in them that is contradictory to faith and morals will be:
- Monsignor Timothy Swope V.F., D.Min., Ph.D., rector of the Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel;
- Third Order Regular Franciscan Father Christian R. Oravec S.T.D., Minister Provincial of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular, Loretto;
- Benedictine Father Demetrius R. Dumm S.T.D., S.S.L, a monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, professor of New Testament at Saint Vincent Seminary.
- Father John J. Slovikovski, doctoral candidate, chaplain at Mount Aloysius College, Cresson and pastor of Saint Catherine Parish, Duncansville, Pa. Father Angelo Patti, pastor of Saint Francis Xavier Parish, Cresson,Pennsylvania, has been named the Cause’s Promoter of Justice. Teresa M. Stayer, chancellor of the Diocese has been named notary. Serving as vice - notaries will be Deacon Robert Bailey and Kathleen Kruise.
In addition to providing a forum for these persons to take their oaths, Monsignor Servinsky said the ceremony will also be the time and place for gathering certain documents need to get Father Gallitzin’s Cause underway.
When the two commissions have finished their work, he said a second session of inquiry will be held at which the commission members will give judicial testimony before the Diocesan Tribunal. “Then we wait for a miracle,” Monsignor Servinsky said.
The ceremony at the Loretto Basilica is the latest in a series of steps initiating Father Gallitzin’s Cause. On March 10, 2005, Bishop Adamec wrote to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican detailing the life and ministry of the Prince - Priest, and asking the Congregation “whether there is anything known to the Holy See, that might impede the introduction of the cause of beatification and canonization.” The Congregation responded on May 16, 2005, granting the “nihil obstat” to the introduction of the cause, saying it knew of nothing that might impede the process, and referring to Father Gallitzin as “Servant of God” which then became his formal title in the Church.
Bishop Adamec also wrote to all the Bishops of Region III (Pennsylvania and New Jersey) of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, asking whether or not they thought the introduction of the Gallitzin cause would be opportune. To date, Monsignor Servinsky said, all the bishops have endorsed the cause and have assured Bishop Adamec of their wish to see it brought to a successful conclusion. Each bishop, Monsignor Servinsky said, has “pledged his cooperation” with the cause.
Any miracles reported to have been obtained by praying for Father Gallitzin’s intercession will be investigated by a tribunal in the diocese where the alleged miracle is said to have taken place. If a miracle is verified, all the documentation surrounding the cause will be forwarded to the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints “thus completing the diocesan process,” said Monsignor Servinsky. He noted that two miracles must be verified: one for the beatification of the Servant of God, allowing him to be known as “Blessed” and one for his canonization, when he would be granted the title “Saint.”
While encouraging the faithful to privately invoke the intercession of Father Gallitzin, Monsignor Servinsky cautioned against “treating him as if he was already canonized.” He noted that the Holy See does not permit the development of a “cult” or public veneration of a candidate for beatification and canonization. “Father Gallitzin is not to be venerated as a saint,” Monsignor Servinsky reiterated, though he noted that pilgrims to the various shrines and holy places in Loretto may continue to visit the tomb of the Prince - Priest and his Chapel House, just as they have always done.
The Servant of God Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, scion of a Russian princely family was born Dec. 22, 1770 at the Hague in the Netherlands where his father, Prince Dmitri Alexeievich Gallitzin was the Russian ambassador. When his mother, the German - born Countess Amalia von Schmettau resumed the practice of her Roman Catholic faith, the young Demetrius became a Catholic on Trinity Sunday, 1787.
Because of his conversion to Catholicism, Demetrius was unable to claim a place at the Russian Imperial Court. In 1792 he sailed from Rotterdam on an educational trip to the New World, bringing with him letters of introduction to some of the leading citizens of the new United States of America.
Within eight days of his arrival in Baltimore, Prince Demetrius entered Saint Mary’s Seminary there on Nov. 5, 1792.
Demetrius Gallitzin was the first priest to complete all of his seminary studies in the United States. Although he was the second priest ordained in this country, he was the first to have received all of the minor and major orders here. He was ordained in Baltimore on March 18, 1795 by Bishop John Carroll, first Bishop of Baltimore, and first Catholic Bishop in the United States.
Assigned to Sacred Heart Church in Conewago, Adams County, the new priest, who chose to be known as Father Smith so as not to reveal his aristocratic background, made his first visit to the Allegheny Mountains just a few months after his ordination when he was summoned to McGuire’s Settlement in Cambria County on a sick call. So impressed was the young cleric by the faith of the mountain community that he sought Bishop Carroll’s permission to return there as pastor. Four years later his wish was granted and on Dec. 25, 1799 Father Gallitzin celebrated Midnight Mass in the first church at McGuire’s Settlement, a community he would later rename Loretto, after the famous Marian shrine in Italy.
For the next 41 years Father Gallitzin served the people of the Alleghenies from his base at Loretto, founding missions throughout much of the territory now comprising the Diocese of Altoona - Johnstown. In ill health for several years at the close of his life, the Prince - Priest died at Loretto on May 6, 1840, and was buried there three days later.
In his 2005 letter to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints Bishop Adamec wrote “In addition to his pastoral ministry to the extensive flock under his charge, Father Gallitzin used his great intelligence to defend the Faith. In response to attacks upon the Catholic Church, he published articles such as “Defense of Catholic Principles”, “An Appeal to the Protestant Public”, “Letter to the Protestant Friend on the Holy Scriptures”, “The Bible: Truth and Charity.”’
These will be among the writings to be examined by the members of the commissions following the March 11 ceremony. Monsignor Servinsky said anyone possessing any other original writings by Father Gallitzin, such as letters, should make them known to the commission members.
Persons wishing to report favors granted, or who want to share original writings by the Servant of God Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin should contact The Cause for Father Demetrius Gallitzin, Diocese of Altoona - Johnstown, 126 Logan Boulevard, Hollidaysburg PA 16648.