Gracz, 84, died Monday afternoon after a battle with most cancers. He had been handled for years for kidney most cancers and was lately advised by docs that most cancers had superior to his lymph nodes and mind, in accordance with the Shrine.
“We’re devastated and brokenhearted, however we take consolation in understanding he was spared of an extended, painful decline,” in accordance with a submit on the church’s Fb web page. ” We pray he’s now seated on the desk of Christ with the opposite dearly departed, and that he’s free from all ache and struggling. We all know you’re feeling as uncooked and anguished as we’re.”
About three dozen folks gathered on the Shrine Monday night time for a vigil as phrase unfold for songs and prayer. There have been tears, hugs, readings and remarks by a solemn Father Joseph Morris, who was named priest-in-charge after the terminal analysis.
A framed photograph of a smiling Gracz was positioned in entrance of the altar, surrounded by the brilliant lights of candles that have been positioned there by individuals who solemnly walked to the memorial, some bowing barely in reverence, some on their knees and giving the signal of the cross.
Morris advised parishioners that he final noticed Gracz on Sunday after mass. He greeted Morris by identify and held his hand.
Morris gave him the communion bread they usually recited “The Lord’s Prayer.”Gracz, stated Morris, prayed it completely and clearly.
Gracz had needed the communion bread damaged, which Morris defined “wasn’t simply saying much less host, however refers to Christ damaged on the cross for his salvation, a religion assertion made so easy.”
“ His eyes have been as brilliant, as blue, as alert as they often are, however hadn’t been for some days,” Morris wrote in an e mail. “He was shining like an angel, stunning. I requested if I might kiss him and he stated please, and I did.”
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On Tuesday, the workers will meet to debate the celebration of life service.
Gracz spent greater than half a century as a priest, having served in a number of parishes within the Archdiocese earlier than becoming a member of the Shrine greater than twenty years in the past.
In a 2009 article in The Georgia Bulletin, the Buffalo-born Gracz summed up his vocation this fashion: “A priest, in some methods, is expressing God to His folks, and God makes use of different folks to talk to us monks. It’s a dialogue.”
Credit score: Kelly Quindlen
Credit score: Kelly Quindlen
It was that give and take that endeared the white-haired Gracz to many on this parish and on the streets surrounding the historic downtown church, on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, only a brief stroll from the state Capitol.
Laureen Fredella, a former parishioner who now lives in New York, watched the vigil from London.
“And for many people, he was positioned earlier than us at a weak time once we have been damaged, hungry, or disillusioned with our Church and have been looking for a beacon. I’ll carry him on my shoulder now, as all of us will,” she wrote on the church’s web site.
In line with his LinkedIn profile, Gracz graduated from Canisius College in Buffalo in 1961 with a level in historical past.
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Gracz was amongst religious advisers the Archdiocese named to assist sexual abuse survivors.
And through companies after the U.S. Supreme Court docket overturned Roe v. Wade, Gracz urged folks to be compassionate.
“So we, who’re a pro-life church, must pay attention very rigorously to the pains of others,” Gracz stated throughout a mass. “An excessive amount of of the motion about life alternative has been folks at one another’s throats … that may’t be the decision that now we have within the Gospel, folks.”
His ministry of inclusion didn’t go with out criticism from extra conservative parts of the religion group.
“It by no means dissuaded him in any means,” stated Kathy Farrell, president of Lucky and Devoted Households, a ministry that helps the mother and father of LGBTQ kids. “The way in which he addressed it was to proceed to like each single individual, even those that didn’t perceive.”
Kelly Quindlen, the pastoral assistant, stated Gracz, at all times deliberate out the weekly church bulletins for the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Gracz at all times needed Jesus depicted as He almost definitely regarded. That may very well be olive pores and skin. Black or darkish hair and brown eyes.
“He would say, ‘I don’t like that artist’s rendering, Jesus seems to be too white’,” she recalled. He additionally favored to incorporate work by Center Japanese, East Asian, African or feminine artists. “He was at all times very excited in regards to the art work. He favored it to be radical and make folks problem their assumptions of who Christ was. Most church buildings have imagery of Jesus with an enormous crown behind him. Henry would say, ‘I don’t need this triumphant king Christ. I need you to discover a Christ of the bread strains.”
Within the Fb observe posted earlier this month, Gracz talked about getting into palliative care.
“It’s a brand new journey – one I’ve by no means been on, however one we should all take in some unspecified time in the future in our earthly lives. I really like you all and belief that you’re holding me shut. As Jesus taught us, loss of life is rarely the ending – solely the start.”