Slovak church’s longtime pastor leaves for homeland
By Eric Czarnik
The Rev. Ben Kosnac, pastor of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Slovak Catholic Church in Sterling Heights, sits on the church’s sign.
Posted April 26, 2017
The pastor of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Slovak Catholic Church in Sterling Heights recently has been preparing to return to his native country after working in the metro Detroit area for around 18 years.
The Rev. Ben Kosnac recently announced the news to his parishioners that his bishop had directed him to go back to Slovakia, with his last day presiding over Mass in Sterling Heights scheduled for April 23, after press time.
In an email, Kosnac said he was surprised to learn around mid-March that his bishop wanted him to return to the European nation. Kosnac said he had incomplete information on why he was being sent back, though he said he responded obediently as a priest.
Kosnac, 47, grew up in Bratislava in what was then Czechoslovakia. He moved to metro Detroit and began serving Ss. Cyril and Methodius in July 1998. While he presided over the parish, its membership grew from around 250 registered households to around 1,200, not counting visitors, he said.
“With this growth, there was growth in Mass attendance, in ministries and, most importantly, growth in faith,” he said.
Kosnac said his congregation has reacted with shock, sadness, understanding, gratitude and love in response to the news of his departure. He said he will miss his parish because it became his family.
“Really, for me it is about the people that I came to know, to love and be known and loved, and being able to minister to them,” he said.
Some of the church’s parishioners emailed the Sentry to describe their memories and experiences with Kosnac.
Parishioner Erin Rybicki said Kosnac has had “a gentle yet profound influence” on her family and that they chose to live in Sterling Heights so they could be involved with the church.
“He has shown us how to love, adore and serve Jesus and his church, and has been the model of the good shepherd to us,” she said in an email.
Parishioners Anna and Paul Magusin have attended the church since around 1980 and were around before it moved from Detroit to Sterling Heights. She said she remembers when Kosnac was picked to take over, and she called him “a new revitalization for us,” adding that the parish has been a source for new priests.
“He has been loved so dearly by our whole community. He always has a positive attitude,” Anna Magusin said.
Anna Magusin said Kosnac “built a truly Catholic tradition” at the parish and was open to other people’s ideas.
“Our Slovak community especially loves him because he really tries to nurture our faith,” she said. “Our Slovak community was brought to feel they were being listened to and things were being done, but where everyone felt welcome. When he leaves, he also leaves with part of our hearts.”
Marguerite Seraphinoff remembers undergoing the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in 2014 at the church and remembers how Kosnac taught her how to be dedicated, joyful and reverent.
“He would visit our class, teach us, encourage us, but most importantly, he loved us,” she said.
Seraphinoff said she will miss Kosnac and will keep him in her prayers.
“While I’m heartbroken to see him go, it’s a comfort to know that God will use him to make a positive impact on even more lives,” she said. “His ‘yes’ is a beautiful example for all of us. I trust that our Lord will put (Kosnac’s) talents, gifts and enthusiasm to good use, furthering the presence of his kingdom on earth.”
Find out more about Ss. Cyril and Methodius Slovak Catholic Church, 41233 Ryan Road in Sterling Heights, by visiting www.saintcyrils.org or by calling (586) 726-6911.
About the author
Staff Writer Eric Czarnik reports on Sterling Heights and Utica Community Schools, and he writes a weekly auto column. He is a Wayne State University graduate who has been employed at C & G Newspapers since 2007.
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