Bishop Edward U. Kmiec laid in state as friends and family members took part in a diocesan Mass on July 16 in memory of the 13th bishop of Buffalo, who passed away July 11, after a short illness.
We gather together to pray for Bishop Kmiec, that he may be raised to eternal life by the Lord, God, who he served for many, many years in this world as a priest and a bishop, a friend to all of us," said Msgr. Salvatore Manganello, vicar general and judicial vicar for the Diocese of Buffalo, who served as the main celebrant of the Mass. "We pray that the glory of God will be revealed to him and that he will have a place at the heavenly banquet feast in heaven."
In His homily, Msgr. Manganello painted his former shepherd as a model disciple. He answered the call build and plant God's kingdom as Jeremiah did. He proclaimed the Word as Timothy was asked. And he became a fisher of men as St. Paul had.
Biblical call narratives are extremely important in our Scriptures," Msgr. Manganello said in explaining that evening's readings.
Today we are here because our beloved Bishop Kmiec heard the call of Him, the Lord, calling him to proclaim the Word, to perform the work of an evangelist, which ultimately brought him to us.
Like Jeremiah, he most likely had his misgivings, his doubts, and his hesitations where all of this may lead. After all, he said, "This is not the cruise I signed up for." But, he enjoyed this cruise as much as many others as he was fond of taking cruises with his classmates over the years. Bishop Kmiec made the most of this cruise and enjoyed it.
The last port on that cruise was Buffalo, where the bishop was appointed in 2008.
"He found a home here among the people of Western New York, and we are all better for it," Msgr. Manganello said.
His spiritual ship set sail on June 4, 1936, in Trenton, N.J., where the future bishop was born and attended school, and later seminary. He then made the tough decision to leave his family to study in Rome four years.
"No Thanksgiving, no Christmas, no Easter holiday spent with them, yet he responded affirmatively to where the Lord was leading him," Msgr. Manganello said. Bishop Kmiec's whole life was a journey to follow the Lord's call wherever it took him. His only goal was to serve the Lord and the Church wherever that may be.
He was named an auxiliary bishop of Trenton before being named bishop of Nashville, then Buffalo.
Being from a working class family helped Bishop Kmiec to be the priest and the bishop that he is. He humbly followed his call wherever it led, making many friends along the way.
His cruise was not always calm. There were strong storms along the way and there were some rough seas along the way as well. Like St. Paul, he remained faithful to his vocation to proclaim the word, be persistent whether convenient or inconvenient, to perform the work of an evangelist and to fulfill his ministry.
Now leaving the ship, he will be reunited with his parents and siblings in heaven.
Like St. Paul, Bishop Kmiec can say, "I have competed well, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
Bishop Robert Cunningham from Syracuse, Vicar General Father Peter Karalus, Moderator of the Curia Father Walter Szcesny, and Msgr. David LiPuma, the former priest secretary to Bishop Kmiec, concelebrated the Mass.
A private Mass for the bishop's family followed the next day.