DETROIT (WWJ) – Cardinal Edmund Szoka, who ran the Archdiocese of Detroit between 1981 and 1990, celebrates 40 years as a bishop Thursday with a mass at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral. Szoka once served as president of the government of Vatican City State and is currently Archbishop Emeritus of Detroit.
Szoka was born September 14, 1927 in Grand Rapids. Attracted to religion at an early age, he attended Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and then St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth to study theology.
In June of 1954, Szoka was ordained to the priesthood in St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Upper Peninsula. He took part in the first session of the Second Vatican Council in 1962 and in 1963 was raised to the rank of Honorary Prelate of His Holiness by Pope Paul VI. In 1971, he was appointed the first Bishop of Gaylord. In March of 1981, he was promoted to the third Metropolitan Archbishop of Detroit by Pope John Paul II. Szoka later went to work at the Vatican.
At the Church’s mandatory retirement age of 75, Szoka submitted his resignation to John Paul II in 2002, but was requested to continue working. In 2006, Pope Benedict announced that Szoka’s resignation had been accepted. Since then, the 83-year-old has relocated to Northville.
Szoka told WWJ we’ve seen a major change in the world, courtesy of computers, e-mail and cell phones. He said we’re also seeing a change in how we view religion and God.
“In this country we certainly, I think, we have seen a diminution of people who consider religion important. There are many people who still believe in God, and believe God is important, but they don’t think religion is important.”
But, he said one thing hasn’t necessarily changed.
“When times are difficult, people tend to turn more to God and to religion. I think they begin to realize they need the Lord’s help and they’re dependent on him. I don’t know if that’s going to happen this time, but it has in the past.”
Although we’re living in difficult economic and political times, Szoka said he’s confident we can work through our problems.
He celebrates his 40th Anniversary of Episcopal Ordination with a mass at 2:00 pm at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.