Archbishop Borys Gudziak was so inspired by the testimony given by the parents of 18-year-old hero Kendrick Castillo at last year’s Supreme Convention that he recently called him a “saint for our times.”
The metropolitan archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia since June 2019, Gudziak invited Kendrick’s parents, John and Maria Castillo, to speak Dec. 8 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
“He gave his life for his friends, and there is no greater love than that,” the archbishop said. “That’s what we Christians are called to do — give our life for the other.”
Kendrick was killed after he charged a gunman at his suburban Denver high school last May; he was posthumously made a Knight of Columbus and his parents were presented with the Caritas Medal, the Order’s second-highest award, at the 137th Supreme Convention in Minneapolis last August.
Archbishop Gudziak introduced the Castillos during the archeparchy’s Sobor assembly of Ukrainian Catholic clergy, religious and laypeople. Also in attendance was Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halyč, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church worldwide and a member of the Knights.
John Castillo described his son as a “catalyst of love” who understood the importance of community and close relationships with family and friends. Kendrick’s devotion to God, he added, was “number one.”
Kendrick frequently volunteered at Knights of Columbus events with his dad, who is a member of a member of Southwest Denver Council 4844, and planned on joining the Order shortly after graduating from high school.
“Kendrick would go out of his way — nothing was more important than helping someone else,” John Castillo said. “He did what we should all be doing in our faith. We gather here as a community to learn the lessons of love, but when we exit the doors, it should never stop, and Kendrick figured that out.”
At the end of the testimony, Archbishop Gudziak led the attendees in praying “Eternal Memory,” a Byzantine prayer for the dead.
This was the first time the Castillos were invited by a diocese to speak about Kendrick’s life. John Castillo hopes that talking about his son will help those who feel lost in today’s culture, especially younger men.
“If Kendrick can be the new light to bring people out of darkness, to let them know that there’s hope and to live their lives differently, get involved, reach out to the marginalized … I think that’s a good thing,” John Castillo said. “We need someone like that, and he was that person.”
ANDREW FOWLER is a content producer with the Knights of Columbus Corporate Communications Department.
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