Father Joseph L. Sredzinski
1944 - 2015
Sixty-five years after the founding in 1905 of Saint Joseph Parish in Uniontown, a church founded by Polish immigrants of the area, the first son of the parish was ordained a priest and celebrated his "First Mass" at the local church where he grew up and grew spiritually. His name was Father Joseph Sredzinski. It was a long wait for a priestly vocation from the parish, with much prayer and encouragement and many boys entering the seminary. But that May day in 1970 unlocked the door to other vocations and in the last forty-five years there have been seven men ordained from this small parish of deep faith and good people, including yours truly. Father Joe, though, has the distinction of being "the first".
Father Joseph Sredzinski, who had just retired from active duty this July at the age of 71, after forty-five years of dedicated service, died in his sleep on October 10th while visiting in Krakow, Poland. His funeral Mass was yesterday, October 20th, at his home parish of Saint Joseph. Bishop Edward Malesic led us in Eucharist and prayer for Father Joe.
Father Joe's ministry involved parish and chaplain assignments over the years, including the local State prison in Greensburg, Westmoreland Manor, and Saint Emma Monastery with the Benedictine Sisters. He served as Chaplain of a number of groups and organization, including as National Chaplain of the Polish Falcons of America for over thirty years. He took the reins of a short radio program of meditations on WMBS in Uniontown entitled "That You May Believe" when I gave it up after fifteen years, a program originated by the late Father Andrew Charnoki. He had a great love of his Polish heritage and background, and even though born in the U.S., we jokingly said that he was "more Polish" than our priests who were born in Poland. There were only three years that separated Joe from myself in ordination years, but at times it seemed as if we were an era apart. Joe was "old school" when it came to his lived expression of priesthood, and yet embraced the qualities of ministry, prayer, devotions, teaching, evangelization, tradition and caring - qualities that served to define his priesthood. Those who were blessed by his life and ministry can and do attest to his impact in their lives.
Father Joe also held an unusual honor among the priests of our diocese. He was named an honorary Canon of the Lubin Cathedral in Lubin, Poland, for his contribution to the cause of Polonia (of promoting all things Polish). We have one other Canon in the diocese - Father Rudy Koser - who is a Canon of the Cathedral in Ankara, Turkey, where he served while in the Air Force Chaplaincy. Canons are not usually found in the U.S. Church, but is found more often in Europe.
May the Lord welcome and richly bless Father Joseph Sredzinski as the servant and priest of God's People. May he rest in peace.