On Wednesday, Feb. 10, Bishop Gerald N. Dino received a letter from Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, informing him that Pope Benedict XVI had approved a change of name for the Eparchy of Van Nuys. The official new name of the eparchy will be "Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix." The pope also elevated the Pro-Cathedral of St. Stephen, which is located in Phoenix, to the status of a cathedral. The former Cathedral of St. Mary, which is located in Sherman Oaks, Calif., is now given the title of proto-cathedral, since it is the first cathedral of the eparchy. The changes took effect immediately upon receipt of the letter.
The Eparchy of Van Nuys was canonically inaugurated on March 9, 1982. The cathedral and the Pastoral Center were located in that section of the city of Los Angeles, which was then called Van Nuys. Later, the section where the cathedral is located was renamed Sherman Oaks.
In 1987, Bishop Thomas V. Dolinay, the first bishop of the Eparchy of Van Nuys, moved the Pastoral Center to Northridge, Calif. In 1990, Bishop Dolinay was appointed the coadjutor archbishop of Pittsburgh and Bishop George M. Kuzma, auxiliary bishop of the Eparchy of Passaic, was appointed the second bishop of the Eparchy of Van Nuys.
Seeing that the high cost of living in California was taking an economic toll on the financially struggling eparchy, in 1993, Bishop George asked the opinion of the eparchial consultors about moving the Pastoral Center out of California to another state with a lower cost of living, but, centrally located and easily accessible to the clergy and faithful. The consultors suggested either Las Vegas or Phoenix.
In 1994, Bishop George was confronted with a natural disaster that would greatly affect the eparchy. The devastating Northridge Earthquake in January 1994, with its epicenter just one mile from the Pastoral Center and episcopal residence, caused severe damage to these structures as well as to the cathedral complex, which was eight miles away in Van Nuys. In the wake of this disaster, Bishop George decided to relocate the Pastoral Center and his residence to Phoenix, where facilities were readily available at St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Church. After the move, Bishop George said "Instead of a gentle nudge from God to move, he used a sledgehammer to get our attention." After the relocation, St. Stephen church was designated a pro-cathedral, but the eparchy always retained its original name, the "Eparchy of Van Nuys."
After nearly 16 years of the Pastoral Center operating out of Phoenix, and with no possibility of moving back to California, Bishop Gerald decided to normalize the reality that Phoenix would be the permanent home of the eparchy. In October of 2008, he wrote to Archbishop Sambi, asking for guidance in the procedure to change the name of the eparchy to reflect its new center of administration in Phoenix. The end result of this process is the above mentioned letter from Archbishop Sambi.
Courtesy of Horizons, the newspaper of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, Ohio.