Parishioners honor, bid farewell to pastor
Story and photos by Julie Beaulieu
CHICOPEE -- Conventual Franciscan Father Michael Zielke, a long-time pastor of St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Basilica Parish, here, bid farewell to his parishioners while celebrating his silver jubilee as an ordained priest. A noontime Mass was celebrated June 8 and recognized Father Zielke who was the pastor 2001 until 2014.
Father Zielke refected about his time at St. Stanislaus.
“St. Stanislaus is a very unique place. It’s really a place where people are excited about living their faith, about giving witness to the Lord. The school has been faithful all these years. I don’t think it’s by chance that I’m celebrating here today on the solemnity of Pentecost, when you stop and think of what the solemnity of Pentecost is all about, how the Holy Spirit came down upon the early church, and how it empowered the early church to go and be witnesses. To go and make disciples, as the youth group so beautifully sang. To build up the body of Christ, and we do that in very ordinary ways when you stop to think about how the Lord wants to work in our lives. Like I kept trying to tell the people when I was here, ‘God calls us to be disciples and he does that in ordinary ways by saying, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, give clothing to the poor, give shelter to the homeless, and give a kind word to those who are ill or in prison.’ So, when you stop to think about it, everybody can do that.”
Conventual Franciscan Brother Michael Duffy, a friend and colleague, gave a comical, yet heart-felt, reflection during the Homily.
“For those of you who have journeyed with him, you will hear of all the money that his mother lost on his music lessons, because thoughout all of his journey, he is always singing a song,” said Brother Duffy.
Brother Duffy then went on to quote the lyrics to Pitch Perfect’s, “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone,” claiming that it has recently been Father Zielke’s new, favorite song since December, when he first got word of his new assignment.
“I’ve been called to be the minister provincial of the mid-western Province of St. Bonaventure, which is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois,” said Father Zielke.
Father Zielke, originally from Baltimore, Maryland, had many family members travel up to New England for his celebration.
“Michael is the one boy out of four girls,” said his sister, Maureen Sammons.
“Since he was a little kid, a young child, he was very involved in church, starting as an altar boy, and then becoming sacristan. He always managed to gather us in his work. We would be cleaning the church with him and helping him to decorate,” she recalled.
The Mass had about a dozen concelebrants, and nearly 300 worshipers, including city officials, family, classmates, students of St. Stanislaus School and parishioners. Conventual Franciscan Father Mieczyslaw Wit, parish administrator, presented Father Zielke with a papal blessing from Pope Francis.
A dinner reception followed in the school.