Friday December 31, 2021
Reverend Monsignor William (Bill) David Bonczewski
August 16, 1948 ~ December 22, 2021
Reverend Monsignor William “Bill” David Bonczewski, Jr., 73, of Youngstown passed away on December 22, 2021 at Mercy Health-St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio. He was born August 16, 1948 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the son of Mary Ellis and William Bonczewski.
Mgr. Bill received a master’s degree in theology from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, completed seminary at the Maronite Seminary of Our Lady of Lebanon in Washington, DC, and was ordained a priest on May 29, 1976. He has served as a pastor of the Maronite Catholic Churches of l Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, Utah and New York over a 45-year period. He spent 23 years as rector at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon, North Jackson, Ohio (1980-2003), where Pope John Paul II awarded him the title of Monsignor; and was educated by Archbishop Francis Zayek in 1991. From October 15, 2008 to September 2011, Mgr. Bill served in the Diocese of Salt Lake City as Pastor of St. Jude Maronite Parish, Chaplain of the Carmelite Sisters, and also part-time hospital chaplain.
Mgr. Bill’s gentle spirit, warm smile, love for everyone he met and constant prayer was an inspiration to everyone who knew him. He was devoted to his priestly mission at the service of the Church and her flock. Mgr. Bill was always incredibly generous with time and with what little possessions he owned, and he welcomed everyone to meet their needs. He gave what he had to the stranger, whether it was to eat or drink. He visited the sick in their homes and hospitals; he visited the prisoners and gave them all hope. As a seminarian, he received an Award from the Army Chaplains Association for Outstanding Service at Walter Reed Military Hospital for seven years of ministry to wounded soldiers during the Vietnam War.
As much as he lived his faith, Mgr. Bill was motivated by his love for the Catholic Church and the Maronite tradition of which he was a part. He was very proud of his two Lebanese and Polish heritage. He told us how he once told Pope John Paul II that he was a “Polish Maronite”, and Saint John Paul II’s face lit up with surprise.
Mgr. Bill was known for his love of fun, the Three Stooges, and for bringing people together for ice cream. He had a sharp wit and a talent for storytelling, which often ended with everyone laughing, nothing more than his characteristic belly laugh. He also loved the nature and the simplicity of small farms. He frequently visited the Cooks Forest in the woods of eastern Pennsylvania, as well as the small Amish towns of Ohio.
Mgr. Bill is survived by his brother Peter and his wife Mary Bonczewski, as well as his sister Jeanne Marie and her husband Jim Calko. In addition, “Unc” had six nieces and nephews and 10 grandnieces and nephews.
A Divine Liturgy was held on December 29, 2021, at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon North Jackson, with His Excellency A. Elias Zaidan, Bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, as officiant. Interment will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.
In lieu of flowers, people are encouraged to donate to the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon, 2759 N Lipkey Road, North Jackson, Ohio 44451 or to the Maronite Monastery of the Sacred Heart (Portland, Oregon) .