Audio length: 9:43 minutes
Transcript published: December 21, 2009
On Friday, December 18, 2009, His Eminence Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest unexpectedly fell asleep in the Lord. Details about his death are now available in our interview with Fr. John Zdinak, Chancellor of the Midwest Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America. Fr. John spoke to His Eminence only 2 hours before he died.
John Maddex: We’re talking with Fr. John Zdinak, who is the Chancellor of the Midwest Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America. And we want to get information about the very sad, falling asleep in the Lord of the beloved Archbishop Job, Bishop of the Midwest Diocese of OCA. Thank you Fr. John for your willingness to talk to us on such a very sad time.
Fr. Zdinak: You’re quite welcome. Quite welcome.
John Maddex: Now tell me any details you can about what happened. I know that this happened on Friday the 18th, the very day that we’re recording this. What can you tell us?
Fr. Zdinak: His Eminence had not been feeling well for most of the week. See, on Tuesday, he seemed to be having some heaviness of chest; some shortness of breath. His Eminence was not fond of going to the doctor. Getting him to go to the doctor was quite a chore.
I begged him on Tuesday. He was actually staying at his home in Black Lick, Pennsylvania. I asked him to go to the UrgiCare or to the ER and go see a doctor, because I had a suspicion that he might have pneumonia.
He said he was just going to rest. He actually went to his home there, to take a couple of days of rest. I talked to him Wednesday. He said he felt better. Thursday, the 17th, he was in Mentor, Ohio for a meeting with the Cleveland Deanery of our diocese.
He said in the morning he felt much better. I saw him at 4:00, and when we departed, he said he was feeling a little heaviness again in his chest. I told him I would check on him. If he was going to drive, as was his custom when he starts out late in the day from Ohio, he would drive to Maumee, Ohio, which is near Toledo, stay at a hotel there, and then drive the rest of the way to Chicago that following morning.
So I called him this morning, in between 9:30 and 10:00, as I was on the road doing some errands. He sounded very bad. He told me that he couldn’t lay down. He had to sit up in a chair all night, because he couldn’t catch his breath. Once again, I begged him to call 911 or go to the ER. He insisted after much arguing that he was just going to drive home, and he would go to the doctor there in Chicago.
I told him, I would call him back in two hours to check on him. Before I had the opportunity to call him back, I got the call from the Protodeacon, Joseph Matusiak, at our chancery that the hospital in Maumee had called him; that His Eminence had passed away. They had found him collapsed in the parking lot of that motel; that he never really made it to his car. And that’s where we’re at right now.
John Maddex: So, he drove from Pennsylvania to Maumee to check into the hotel that he normally stays at, when he is en route back home to Chicago, and actually died in the parking lot.
Fr. Zdinak: He actually drove from Mentor, Ohio to Maumee, Ohio on Thursday evening. And this morning, apparently, he collapsed in the parking lot. He did not even make it to his car. And they took him to the hospital, and it was 11:25 when they pronounced him dead.
John Maddex: Do you know if he was still breathing on the way to the hospital and died there? Or had he died earlier?
Fr. Zdinak: They didn’t tell us anything there. I do know that he was only in the ER about five minutes before they pronounced him dead. So it’s hard to say. Because he is so young, he’s only 63, and that he was found in the parking lot, the coroner has to do an investigation. And he is sensitive to our religion, and it is going to be as noninvasive as possible, to determine the cause of death.
John Maddex: Well, this is very sad for so many of us who knew and loved him, particularly for those he shepherded in the Midwest of the OCA, but for all of the Orthodox worldwide. I know funeral arrangements have now been made. Perhaps, you can give us the details.
Fr. Zdinak: Vladyka will be at Christ the Savior Church in Chicago, on N. LaSalle Boulevard, from 1:00 to 4:00 on Monday the 21st. He will then be at Holy Trinity Cathedral, on N. Leavitt, at 6:00 Monday evening until 9:00. There will be a panikhida service, a memorial service, at 7:00 at the Cathedral on Monday evening.
Holy Trinity Cathedral will be open, and His Eminence will lie in state in the cathedral all day on Tuesday the 22nd. The cathedral will open at 11:00 and be open all day. At 7:00, Tuesday evening the 22nd, the funeral service will take place, presided by His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah and visiting hierarchs and clergy.
On Wednesday morning, the 23rd, at 9:00 in Holy Trinity Cathedral, will be the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. And this His Eminence will be taken to Cleveland, Ohio. He will go to St. Theodosius Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio, where he will be from 7:30 P.M. til 10:00. A memorial service starts at 8:00 at St. Theodosius Cathedral. This gives people, in the eastern portion of our diocese, the opportunity to come and pay their respects and to pray.
From there, he will be taken to Black Lick, Pennsylvania, which was the location of his first parish and also his home that he owned in Pennsylvania. They’re making arrangements for visitation. However, the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy will take place on Saturday December 26th at 10:00 at St. John the Baptist Church in Black Lick, followed by a memorial service and the internment.
He will be interned behind the altar on the grounds of St. John the Baptist Church, which he was the pastor when they built the church. He is actually the priest who built the church.
John Maddex: Well, that’s very helpful information. We thank you so, so very much. How long had Archbishop Job been the bishop in the Midwest? Do you know?
Fr. Zdinak: I believe he came in 1993. My mind slips me. I think it was 1993 that he arrived in Cleveland.
John Maddex: I know many of us who knew him, knew that he spoke often, looking forward to the day that he could retire, write icons, and compose his music.
Fr. Zdinak: Yes, that was his hope. When we asked him if we could beg him to stay on, he always said “I need to retire for the sake of my soul.” The responsibilities of a hierarch in the Church are tremendous; so much there.
And as a lot of clergy, sometimes we become so inundated with so many things to lose our own soul sometimes. And I think he felt, he just wanted to take time for peace and calm—just to be able to pray and work on his salvation for the rest of his life.
John Maddex: Well, now he is in the ultimate place of peace and calm. And may his memory be eternal.
Fr. Zdinak: Thank God. I thank God for that. He will be absolutely, truly missed, mostly by his clergy, I’d have to save to say. Because he was beloved by all of his clergy. He was truly a pastor to the pastors. He was a good friend, but he will be missed by all of his faithful. But I will say, I know that the clergy will dearly miss him.
He was a people’s bishop also. Again, we’re saddened that we’re going to lose him. We were saddened to think of his retirement. This was just totally beyond any kind of expectation.
John Maddex: I can imagine. Well, Fr. John Zdinak, who is Chancellor of the Midwest Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America, thank you. During what has been just, I’m sure, a chaotic and frenetic day for you, thank you for taking time to talk with us; to give us so many of the details that I know our listeners would be interested in hearing.
And we will pray for Archbishop Job and for his soul. We’ll pray also for those who will be travelling to the various services that will be coming up in this next several days. Thank you again, Fr. John.
Fr. Zdinak: Thank you, John. God bless and keep us all in your prayers