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St. Clair Shores

September 28, 2012

St. Lucy Catholic Church remembers longtime pastor

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
“The Triumphal Entry” is a stainless steel work by Father Bohdan Kosicki depicting Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. It hangs at the main entrance to St. Lucy Catholic Church.
“The Annunciation” is made of bristlecone pine.
 

Remembered as “a people person” with an “ethereal” presence, parishioners, family and friends turned out to say goodbye to Father Bohdan Kosicki at St. Lucy Catholic Church, where he was the parish’s longest-serving pastor.

Born in Detroit in 1925, Kosicki was the fifth of seven children. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1950 and served in many metro Detroit parishes, but at none longer than St. Lucy Catholic Church, where he was pastor from 1982 until 1997. He had to retire that year after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery and moved to St. Clair, Mich., but Father James Commyn, the current pastor of St. Lucy’s, said Kosicki is still beloved by parishioners more than a decade after he left.

“If he hadn’t gotten sick, he’d probably still be here,” Commyn said. “They all have that endearing love and care for him here.”

Kosicki died Sept. 19 at the age of 87 from lung cancer.

It was at St. Lucy that he left his largest mark, in the form of dozens of wooden and metal sculptures depicting scripture.

“He had a kinship with the people here that was so strong,” said his niece Rita Walilko, of Shelby Township.

Kosicki’s artwork is in more than 100 churches in three states, said his nephew Tom Walilko, of Shelby Township. But he said no church has more of his creations than St. Lucy, where pieces include the church’s sign along Jefferson Avenue, the crosses carried in procession and the baptismal font.

Tom Walilko said Kosicki used fallen logs for his wooden sculptures, taking trips with his brother, Father George Kosicki, to the Rocky Mountains, where they carried down fallen bristlecone pine logs themselves using leather harnesses.

“That is so much a part of him,” Rita Walilko said of Kosicki’s artwork. “He saw God in everything. He was such an integral part of our family.”

Although he was living in St. Clair when he died, Kosicki was returned to St. Lucy Sept. 24,  so his parishioners could say goodbye in accordance with his wishes, Rita Walilko said.

“He was very involved in St. Clair Shores,” she said. “He had an ability to draw people together with a common goal … (and make) people happy they were there.

“He wanted to go home.”

Parishioners said they were touched during his time at St. Lucy, where he left an impact with his words and his art.

“There was something ethereal about him,” said longtime parishioner Kathy Jordan, of Grosse Pointe. “He was just such a unique man; he had a special place in people’s hearts and memories.

“I love art, so I was very taken by his artistic sense.”

“He is the beloved pastor of here,” agreed Commyn.

Father Tom Sutherland, a retired priest and a friend of Kosicki’s, said he will be remembered forever.

“He had a great impact,” he said. “He was a people person. Everybody knows the great artistic talent that he had.”

John Dickson, of Warren, said his former boss was a “dear friend” and will “certainly be missed.”

“He had a great impact on the people,” said Dickson, who was a musician at the church in the 1990s. “He touched them with his art and his homilies.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.