Rudolph Joseph Przydzial Price, known as “Rudy,” was born and lived a large part of his life in Port Richmond. It was a life, said those who knew him, that was deeply connected to God and goodness.
A pilot for the U.S. Navy and Delta Airlines, Price was killed in a Delta plane crash in 1985 in Dallas, Texas.
Even now, almost 30 years later, people are working toward his beatification — the beatified are declared by the Catholic Church to have entered into Heaven, are given the title “Blessed,” and receive limited public religious honor in their name. Beatification is the third of the four steps in becoming a saint.
Price was confirmed at St. Adalbert Catholic Church, where he served as an altar boy and played the organ.
Friends and representatives from Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Ga. — Price moved to Georgia in 1970 and is buried there — visited Port Richmond on Nov. 10 and 11 to speak to parishioners at St. Adalbert after Mass.
Nancy Scrocca, of Atlanta, was a very close friend of Price and worked with him at Delta. She, along with the Rev. Francis Michael Stiteler and the Rev. Anthony Delisi, Price’s spiritual adviser and confessor, spoke after the 5 p.m. Mass Saturday and the 7:30, 9 and 10:30 a.m. Masses on Sunday to let parishioners know of the cause.
The beatification process, though, can take years upon years.
Scrocca said individuals could fill out cards in support of Price’s beatification in order to begin the process. Scrocca and Stiteler will have to appeal to the archdioceses in Atlanta and Philadelphia as the next steps in the process. They are not taking any monetary donations; they simply need more information for their presentation.
“This is a gift of love, an act of love,” she said.
According to church law, the process of beatification is such:
It begins with the support of people who knew the individual. Once those spearheading the cause gather significant information about the individual’s life — that’s where Price’s process is now — they appeal to the bishops of each archdiocese.
If those bishops take up the cause, they continue to gather information and documents that will be sent to the Vatican, where The Congregation for the Causes of Saints further investigates the individual’s “saintliness” and if he or she lived a life of “heroic virtue.” Once the bishops of that Congregation determine if there is enough evidence, they ask the Pope to declare that person “venerable.”
Then, the first of two miracles conducted by the individual must be proven. Miracles are usually the healing of medical conditions that cannot be explained by the medical community. After beatification, another distinct miracle would need to be proven for the individual to be canonized as a saint.
Scrocca said those in support of Price’s beatification do know of two miracles he had performed in his life, but she said she is not able to discuss them currently, as the process is in such early stages.
As far as his heroic virtue, Scrocca said she believes Price carried out a heroic act during the flight that took his life. Scrocca, along with Price’s son, Michael Price, explained that during the flight, the pilots - including Rudy Price - quickly recognized the windshear conditions and performed maneuvers to decrease the vertical speed with which the plane hit the ground, saving the lives of 27 on board.
“He understood he was going to try to save somebody on that plane,” she said, and referenced Biblical verse John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
“He laid down his life for his brother,” she said.
She explained that Price also was a prison minister, a lector at his Georgia church, conducted Bible study and taught CCD — religion classes taught to school-aged children — and did counseling with his psychology degree. He also opened up his home to those in need of a place to live.
“He was an ordinary man that God used to do extraordinary work in His name,” Scrocca said.
Donna Sekula, Price’s younger sister by 11 years, currently lives in New Jersey. She said even immediately after Price’s death, people were saying they wanted to make him a saint.
“He was really a very, very good man,” she said. “I really think its [the beatification process] is an honor and tribute to my brother.”
Sekula said Price was very connected to Port Richmond and St. Adalbert’s. He went to La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor, and to College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., where he joined the ROTC.
“When he was small and going through his teenage years, he always wanted to be a priest,” Sekula said of her brother. “Then he realized he wanted to be in the ROTC program.”
Sekula said she was not surprised at the notion of her brother being beatified.
“I was just kind of waiting for this [the beatification] to happen — it might not happen in my lifetime,” she said. “But if not, we all know in our heart what kind of man he was.”
Price’s supporters are also looking to hear from alumni of Holy Cross and those who might have served with Price in the Navy. Show your support for Price’s beatification or share your thoughts about him by writing Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monestary for Rudolph Price, P.O. Box 942164, Atlanta, Ga., 31141.
Managing editor Mikala Jamison can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.