NORTH JACKSON, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Reverend Monsignor William “Bill” David Bonczewski, Jr., 73, of Youngstown, passed away on Wednesday, December 22, 2021, at Mercy Health- St Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio.

He was born on August 16, 1948, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the son of Mary Ellis and William Bonczewski.

Msgr. Bill received a Master of Divinity from the Oblates of Immaculate Mary, completed seminary at Our Lady of the Lebanon Maronite Seminary in Washington DC and was ordained a priest on May 29, 1976. He served as Pastor of Maronite Catholic churches in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, Utah and New York over a span of 45 years. He spent 23 years as Rector at the National Shrine to Our Lady of Lebanon, North Jackson, Ohio (1980-2003), where Pope John Paul II bestowed upon him the title of Monsignor and was elevated by Archbishop Francis Zayek in 1991.

Msgr. Bill’s gentle spirit, warm smile, love for everyone he met and constant prayer were a source of inspiration to all who knew him. He was devoted to his priestly mission of serving the Church and her flock. Msgr Bill was always incredibly generous in time and with what little belongings he had and he welcomed all to minister to their needs. He gave what he had to the stranger whether food or drink. He visited the sick at their homes and hospitals; he visited the imprisoned and gave them all hope. As a seminarian, he received an award from the Army Chaplain Association for outstanding service at Walter Reed Army Hospital for seven years of ministering to the wounded soldiers during the Vietnam War.

As much as he lived his faith, Msgr. Bill was driven by his love for the Catholic Church and the Maronite tradition which he was a part of. He was very proud of both his Lebanese and Polish heritages. He would recount to us how he once told Pope John Paul II that he was a “Polish Maronite” and St. John Paul II’s face lit up in surprise.

Msgr. Bill was known for his love of good fun, the Three Stooges and for bringing people together for ice cream. He had a quick wit and knack for storytelling, which oftentimes ended with a roar of laughter from all, with none louder than his trademark belly laugh. He also loved nature and the simplicity of small farms. He would frequently visit Cook Forest, in the woods of eastern Pennsylvania, as well as the small Amish towns in Ohio.

Msgr. Bill is survived by his brother, Peter and wife, Mary, Bonczewski and his sister, Jeanne Marie and husband, Jim, Calko; in addition, “Unc” also had six nieces and nephews and ten great-nieces and nephews.

Viewing for the public will be held on Tuesday, December 28, 2021, from 12:00 – 6:00 p.m., with the family present from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m., at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon, 2759 N. Lipkey Road, North Jackson, with a Ginazz Service to be held at 6:00 p.m.

There will be a Divine Liturgy held on Wednesday, December 29, 2021, at 10:00 a.m., at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon with His Excellency A. Elias Zaidan Bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon as officiant. 

There will also be a viewing from 9:00 – 10:45 a.m., with a Divine Liturgy to follow at 11:00 a.m., on Thursday, December 30, 2021, at Saint Anthony/ Saint George Church, 311 Park Avenue, Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, with His Excellency A. Elias Zaidan Bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon as officiant. 

Burial will take place at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the family suggest that masks or face coverings be worn for those attending calling hors or services for your protection and theirs.  

Arrangements have been entrusted to the professional care of the Rossi & Santucci Funeral Home, 4221 Market Street, Boardman.

Instead of flowers, people are encouraged to make Donations to Basilica & National Shrine to Our of Lady of Lebanon, 2759 N Lipkey Road, North Jackson, OH 44451 or the Sacred Heart Maronite Monastery (Portland, Oregon).

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Rev. Msgr. William David “Bill” Bonczewski, please visit our floral store.

A television tribute will air Sunday, December 26, at the following approximate times: 8:58 a.m. on FOX and 9:58 p.m. on MyYTV.