Metropolitan Archbishop Stephen J. Kocisko

Stephen John Kocisko was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 11, 1915, one of nine children of John and Anna (Somos) Kocisko.  After his graduation from De La Salle Catholic High School, he pursued his vocation to the priestly life by attending Nazareth Preparatory Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. Later, he was sent by Bishop Basil Takach for his philosophical and theological education to St. Josaphat Seminary in Rome where he earned a Licentiate (Master’s) Degree in Sacred Theology. Just prior to his departure for the United States, Bishop Alexander Evreinoff, the Russian ordaining prelate for Byzantine Catholics in Rome, ordained him to the priesthood on March 30, 1941.
Upon his return home, Father Stephen was assigned to pastorates in Detroit, Michigan and Lyndora, Pennsylvania. Besides his pastoral duties, he served as a member of the Matrimonial Tribunal and professor of Patrology at the Seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh. In April 1956, Bishop Nicholas Elko named him Chancellor of the Exarchate.

When Bishop Nicholas petitioned the Holy See for an auxiliary bishop to assist him, his request was granted and he was notified that Father Stephen would be elevated to the episcopacy.                                                                                                                                                    
Following his episcopal ordination on October 23, 1956 at St. Paul (Latin) Cathedral in Pittsburgh, Bishop Stephen resided at Holy Ghost parish on Pittsburgh’s North Side. For seven years, he served as auxiliary to Bishop Nicholas.  He also was appointed to several important administrative positions, including Rector of the Seminary and Vicar General.
On July 31, 1963, when the two new eparchies of Pittsburgh and Passaic were established, Bishop Stephen was named the first ordinary of Passaic. He was installed by the Apostolic Delegate to the United States, Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi, in the newly designated Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel in Passaic.

He organized the administration, appointed various commissions and agencies, and established a residence and chancery for the new eparchy.  He also created a weekly newspaper, The Eastern Catholic Life. An active member of the second session of the Vatican Council which began in the autumn of 1963, Bishop Stephen saw the importance of implementing the Council decrees, including the implicitly noteworthy one which instructed the Eastern Catholic Churches to return to their authentic traditions and practices.

After the resignation of Bishop Nicholas, the Holy See appointed Bishop Stephen as the Bishop of the Eparchy of Pittsburgh on December 22, 1967.
Then when the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh was created by Pope Paul VI on February 21, 1969, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Stephen its first Archbishop. The eparchy of Munhall was elevated to an archeparchy, and the Eparchy of Passaic was designated as a suffragan or constituent part of the Metropolitan Church. A new suffragan eparchy of Parma, Ohio was created from the western territory of the Munhall Eparchy.

Archbishop Stephen was installed on June 11, 1969 as the first Metropolitan in the history of the Carpatho-Rusyn people by the Most Reverend Luigi Raimondi, the Apostolic Delegate to the United States, in Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh.

Again following the decrees of the Second Vatican Council, he undertook the task of restoring the authentic religious traditions of the Eastern Church. He reopened the theology department of SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary and implemented programs with renewed emphasis on Eastern theological tradition and practices there.  He established an Institute for Cantors, an Office of Religious Education, and he began publication of the informative Byzantine Leaflet Series.

In1974, with the cooperation of the other hierarchs, clergy and faithful, Archbishop Stephen erected a beautiful Byzantine-style chapel with an iconostasis and colorful mosaics in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. 

As the head of a sui iuris Metropolitan Church, Archbishop Stephen represented the Byzantine Catholics in the Synod of Bishops, the highest consultative body of the Catholic Church. Through his participation at these synodal sessions, the Archbishop was able not only to express the position of the Byzantine Catholic Churches on the many issues faced by the Church in contemporary life, but also to acquaint the Synod fathers from all over the world with the history and importance of this Church in America.

In February 1990, as the repressive Communist rule finally ended in Central and Eastern Europe, Metropolitan Stephen led a large group of American Byzantine Catholic hierarchs, clergy, religious and faithful to the Eparchies of Prešov in eastern Slovakia and Mukačevo in western Ukraine.  

On his 75th birthday, June 11, 1990, Archbishop Stephen tendered his resignation as Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh to Pope John Paul II, in compliance with the directives of Vatican II. Thus was concluded his 50 years of service to the Church as a priest and 35 years as a bishop.  His health gradually declined, and he fell asleep in the Lord on March 7, 1995 at Mount Macrina Manor on the monastery property of the Sisters of St. Basil in Uniontown, Pa.  His body reposes in the bishops’ section of the cemetery there.