Could there be a Saint Rudolph of Port Richmond?

Friends and fam­ily of Rudolph “Rudy” Price are mak­ing the first steps to be­ati­fy the former Port Rich­mond man, though the pro­cess could take dec­ades.

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 mjam­is­ 

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