Diocese celebrates clergy members as faithful servants

GARY – More than two dozen priests and deacons from the Diocese of Gary gathered at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels on Nov. 7 for a Mass of Remembrance for deceased bishops, priests and deacons from the diocese.
While they were remembering him, they also learned from Bishop Robert J. McClory that Bishop Dale J. Melczek, D.D., who died just over a year ago and was entombed in the cathedral on Aug. 29, 2022 has remembered them with a $200,000 bequest to the diocesan Diocese of Gary Priests’ Retirement Endowment, benefitting the pension plan for retired priests.
“It’s good for us to think of the priests who came before us, and lift them up to the Lord in prayer,” said Bishop McClory in his homily. He noted that his thoughts turned to his two late uncles who served as Missionaries of the Precious Blood, each of whom gifted him with a chalice after his ordination.
“What a beautiful sense of continuity (that) connected me to the priests whose priesthoods touched me deeply,” the bishop noted. “This liturgy that replicates the Sacrifice of the Lamb on Calgary … (shows) that connection that we have, that all priests have.
“We come here today to remember the dead, recall their virtues and ask God’s mercy on them,” he added. “We have great confidence that God who loves us wants us to respond to his words. We receive those words so we can live in accordance with the vocation we have.
“It’s good for us to think of the priests who came before us and lift them up to the Lord in prayer,” said the bishop, who hosted a luncheon for clergy members after the Mass of Remembrance.
Father Jacob McDaniel, chaplain at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Student Center in Valparaiso, said his thoughts turned to one of his mentors, the late Father Frank Torres, “who gave me a chalice from his collection when I was ordained. He made one stipulation, that I had to pray for him when I used it. I never thought it would be so soon,” Father McDaniel said of the former associate pastor at St. Helen in Hebron, who died suddenly just a year ago, on Nov. 14, 2022 at age 70.
“Father Torres had been an associate at my parish, Queen of All Saints in Michigan City, when I was in college and in the seminary, and I lived with him for a year in the rectory at St. Francis Xavier. He was always close to the seminarians and I remember him well.”
Father Peter Muha, pastor at St. Joseph in Dyer, said he thought of Father Joe Till, pastor at St. John the Evangelist when he was in high school, during the Mass of Remembrance. “I remember his kindness and generosity,” said Father Muha.
Father Jon Plavcan, diocesan vicar for clergy and pastor at St. Patrick in Chesterton, also mentioned Father Frank Torres, his seminary classmate, as a priest he especially remembered at the Mass. “He was older than I when we were ordained, and I remember that he was always present for those in need, willing to serve in any capacity he could for other priests,” noted Father Plavcan. “He never counted the cost of that ministry.”
Also remembered fondly by Father Plavcan was Bishop Melczek, the Diocese of Gary’s third bishop and later bishop emeritus until his death, at 83, just over a year ago, on Aug. 25, 2022. In addition to his bequest to the Priests’ Retirement Endowment, Father Plavcan noted that Bishop Melczek left a sizable bequest to each of the three endowment funds that he established for the diocesan high schools, Andrean, Bishop Noll and Marquette.
“He wanted the funds to continue supporting education in our diocese, especially for minorities,” said Father Plavcan. “I remember him for his generosity to the people he served, his example and his prayerfulness. He truly believed in God.”


Caption: Bishop Robert J. McClory (center) celebrates a Mass of Remembrance for deceased bishops, priests and deacons from the Diocese of Gary on Nov. 7 at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels in Gary. Concelebrating were Father Michael Surufka, O.F.M. (left), rector at the cathedral and pastor of Ss. Monica and Luke, St. Joseph the Worker and St. Mary of the Lake parishes in Gary, and Father Chris Stanish (right), vicar general and moderator of the curia. (Marlene A. Zloza photo)