Right Reverend William (Bill) Hupalo passes away

Right Reverend William (Bill) Hupaloю Photo: Eparchy of Edmonton

Served 3 times as Apostolic Administrator for Eparchy of Edmonton

NP-UN Western Bureau.

On Monday, January 27, 2020, Father Bill Hupalo, a very devoted and beloved priest, who served as Apostolic Administrator for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton, passed away peacefully at the age of 76 years.

Father Bill was born on April 23, 1943 in Bonnyville, AB to parents Nicholas and Ruth Hupalo. At the age of 30, he discerned a call to the priesthood, first completing a Bachelor of Philosophy in Rome in 1972 and then a Bachelor of Theology in Ottawa in 1976.

He was ordained to the priesthood on July 18, 1976 by Bishop Neil Savaryn. From 1976 to his retirement in 2017, he faithfully served a number of parishes, including as pastor of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Edmonton, St. Stephen Protomartyr Parish in Calgary and Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God Parish in Edmonton, among many others.

With great humility, he also served as Eparchial Administrator of the Eparchy of Edmonton three times.

An Apostolic Administrator takes over the leadership of an Eparchy in the absence of a bishop. Fr. Hupalo first served in that capacity over from 1990-1992, between the passing of Bishop Demetrius Greschuk and the consecration of Bishop Myron Daciuk; then from 1996-1997, between the passing of Bishop Myron and the consecration of Bishop Lawrence Huculak; and in 2006 between the elevation of Bishop Lawrence to Metropolitan of Winnipeg and all Canada, and the consecration of Bishop David Motiuk as Eparch of Edmonton.

In honour of his dedicated service to God and the Church, he was elevated to Mitred Archpriest in 2012 by Patriarch Sviatoslav Shewchuk.

Father Bill is survived by his twin sister, Nancy (George) Ference; brother, Leon (Lillian) Hupalo; and sister, Jenovia (Don) Woloshyn; half-sister, Stephania Zuk; as well as many nieces and nephews; his brother priests; and many, many friends. Predeceased by his parents, Nick and Ruth; half-brother, Zen; and great-grandnephew, Greyson.

The Priestly Parastas was held Thursday, January 30 at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, Edmonton.

The Priestly Funeral was held Friday, January 31 at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral with Most Reverend David Motiuk and clergy concelebrating. Interment followed at St. Michael’s Cemetery.

Homily at Father Bill’s Funeral Divine Liturgy

(Delivered by Father Stephen Wojcichowsky, Vicar General, Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton, St. Josaphat Cathedral, January 31, 2020))

Every high priest chosen from among the people is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf … He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this, he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people and he does not presume to take this honour, but takes it only when called by God. (Hebrews 5:1a-4)

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Xристос Pаждається! Christ is Born!

Dear family and friends of Father Bill, dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

These words from the Letter to the Hebrews strike me as offering a basic summary of what it means to be a priest:

  • chosen from among the people
  • put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf
  • able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward
  • he himself is subject to weakness
  • he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people
  • he does not presume to take this honour
  • takes it only when called by God.

But words alone cannot describe the beautiful priesthood of our beloved Father Bill. He was a character, bigger than life, a priest for the generations. It needs something more. It needs a portrait, a picture. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. But his ministry was a canvas too large for me to paint by myself. So, to help me along, I sent an email to some half dozen people who knew Father Bill very well.

I wrote in part: “As you are aware, I strongly believe that a person’s life is a sacred text that reveals the majesty of our gracious and loving God. I would appreciate it if you could share with me anecdotes, insights, recollections that might give a glimpse into the heart of this wonderful priest.” [I promised I wouldn’t use their names]. I received over 50 reflections. Some of the respondents offered six or more items. Many of the themes were already described yesterday evening by Bishop David: humility, faithfulness, simplicity, straight-shooting, down to earth.

Bishop David spoke of Father Bill’s joy in sharing the gospel.

One person wrote: “Friends of mine yearned to re-establish their lives as members of the Christian church. Father Bill, because of his willingness to engage in conversation with them, by the grace of God helped them on the path with even more zeal than they could have ever imaged.”

Another shared: “Fr. Bill came to our house when our daughter was to be baptized. I was concerned that although we were married in the Ukrainian Catholic Church I was not a Ukrainian Catholic. Most simply he asked me if I believed in Jesus. I said I did and that was that. I was welcomed. We had tea.”

One respondent revealed Father Bill’s anonymous generosity: “He was a big supporter of Bridge of Hope. He helped a young girl from Ukraine with her heart surgeries, both monetarily and by visiting her while she was here in Canada receiving treatment. (She is now a young woman working as a cardiac nurse in Ukraine)”.

Several people stated that “An important belief he shared most earnestly and repeatedly [note the underlining] was that ‘Life is about Relationships’.” One of the members of our Pastoral Centre who accompanied father Bill to get his prescriptions found it remarkable that as soon as he appeared, the pharmacist began filling the prescription – there was no inquiry after his name, birth date – she just knew him. The pharmacist declared, “He was so polite, so kind, so patient, a real gentleman.” When our staff member commented on this, Father Bill replied, “Forget Online shopping, you need to talk to people, to relate to them.”

We all were appreciative of Father Bill’s sense of humour:

One individual described a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Father Bill. She said that she and her husband were standing in the Garden of Gethsemane when “Father Bill comes around the corner and says to us ‘Let’s get out of here I hear they crucify people if you hang around too long.”

Someone who worked closely with him reported that when you asked him how things were going, especially when he was the administrator of the Eparchy, he didn’t complain, he’d just say, “I’d feel better if I was in Hawaii.”

Father Bill also inspired humour. This anecdote was related to me yesterday evening:

“Father Bill was our Mr. Rogers. He liked to wear cardigan sweaters, his favourite colours were brown and blue, and he always welcomed you to the neighbourhood.”

Bishop David mentioned how devoted Father Bill was to his mother. This was echoed by several others. They wrote that he visited her often. In his living room, he had a favourite chair where he would sit for long periods of time. On the coffee table in front of him in pride of place was a photograph of his mother. I don’t know of what their conversation consisted, but now he can surely rejoice in their reunion.

How did he come to be so loving and so loved by so many?

He was undoubtedly influenced by his parents’ upbringing, by the strong relationships he had with his siblings and other family members, and by the echo of God’s voice he heard in his heart. But there was more.

Father Bill loved the Eucharist as Bishop David pointed out. When a priest is being ordained, the people are witnesses of many of the rituals and prayers: the prostrations, the circling of the altar, the laying on of hands, the vesting (to which they respond “Axios!”). What they do not see or hear is his reception of Holy Communion.

Before the bishop gives the newly ordained priest the Precious Body of Our Lord, he calls him to the front of the altar and says, “Receive this particle and preserve it pure and unspotted until your final breath, for you shall render account for it at the second coming of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”

At some point, whether early on or later, Father Bill realized what Christian teachers of the ages have insisted upon: to have a profound reverence for the Eucharistic Body of Christ is to have a profound reverence for the people who are the Body of Christ. Receiving the Eucharist and pledging to preserve it and to give an account of it is to receive the people of God into one’s heart, pledging to preserve them and to account for them before the Lord.

In the words of the beloved apostle John, “Those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20b).

What did that call to love mean for Father Bill?

I had an insight into that recently when I read an interview with a heroic mother who had singlehandedly raised a large family. In spite of all the frustrations, disappointments, and obstacles, she had persevered, and every one of her children had made remarkable achievements, both in their schooling and in their vocation.

The reporter asked what the secret was to raising her children. He said, “I suppose you loved all your children equally, making sure that all got the same treatment.”

The mother’s answer surprised me. She replied, “I loved them. I loved them all, each one of them, but not equally. I loved the one the most that was down until he was up. I loved the one the most that was weak until she was strong. I loved the one the most that was hurt until he was healed. I loved the one the most that was lost until she was found.”

That was our Father Bill: loving the weak, the hurting, the lost. These were the focus of his attention more than anyone. He did not require a word of thanks or recognition. He had internalized Jesus’ words about the final judgment: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

What nurtured this love in Father Bill? How did he keep it up?

We all know that Father Bill was a deeply spiritual person, that he had profoundly intimate relationship with Christ. A brother priest described it as feeling a spiritual warmth whenever he was with him. And this kind of warmth, this sense of ease and well-being, in a word – this happiness – is a sure sign of the Holy Spirit. And you knew the Holy Spirit was of great significance to him – for this reason he chose the icon of the Descent of the Holy Spirit for his memorial card.

One of the beautiful things about Father Bill was that he wouldn’t speak of the inner life he shared with the Holy Spirit. Yet the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola could have been Father Bill’s very own: “I am not going to talk of visions, symbols, voices, the gift of tears. All I say is … I experienced God Himself, not human words describing Him.” And I attest to that because he was my father confessor. You don’t go to confession to a priest for years if you do not see the Holy Spirit reflected in him.

This deep-seated relationship with the Holy Spirit was in evidence even in his final days. At his last meeting with the oncologist Father Bill was told that the prognosis was not good and that treatment would be discontinued. When the doctor left the room Father Bill sat silently for a moment then said “Well I guess that’s it then. I need to start making arrangements and prepare to meet my Lord.”

In the hospital he prayed for those he knew who carried weighty concerns in their hearts. To that he said, “They’re so worried about their health, and this and that, and I say, why do I want to stick around here, Lord knows, there’s glory on the other side.”

Truly, these words of St. Paul could have been Father Bill’s own:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

This was the mitre towards which he aspired and directed his life: the crown of glory from Our Lord. And notice that he wanted that to be shared with all of us, not to be kept for himself.

Father Bill, we thank you for the gift you were and continue to be for us. Pray to our God of Loving-kindness to inspire in us this same desire for holiness that was within you and shone forth from you toward whomever you encountered.

Everlasting be your memory! Вічная пам’ять!

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Xристос Pаждається! Christ is Born!