Final prayers of goodbye to Father

Published 12:49 am Saturday, September 4, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - This weekend will mark the end of an era at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Niles.
After more than seven years of service at St. Mary's, Rev. Canon Marian Kencik will be leading his final masses this holiday weekend. The 67-year old, Poland-born priest is retiring to Port Charlotte, Fla., where he plans to help out at local parishes on the weekends. He was ordained on June 10, 1962.
Father Kencik will also miss the children of St. Mary's and St. Mary's School.
On Thursday, the students of St. Mary's School showed Father Kencik that they will miss him as well. To wish him farewell, the school held a special progressive prayer ceremony for the retiring priest.
Beginning with sixth grade and finishing with the first graders, Father Kencik traveled from class to class and was blessed with special prayers, songs and poems.
The children offered up prayers for Father Kencik's health, safety and well-being as he will be moving on to Florida.
With all of the school's students present in the first grade classroom, Father Kencik gave them a special blessing in the final stage of the progressive prayer.
He then told the children that he would always remember them in his prayers and that they were welcome to visit him at his new home in Florida anytime. He also said he plans on coming back to Niles for special occasions whenever he can make the trip.
St. Mary's secretary Jonnie Kilic, who worked with Father Kencik the entire time he was in Niles, said she and the entire church will miss him dearly.
Father Kencik was also great with the elderly community in Niles, she said. He often spent time with shut-ins, visited hospitals and held monthly masses at local nursing homes.
His dedication to the community was also apparent with his membership in groups like the Knights of Columbus and the Niles Civitan Club.
The masses this weekend, which will be held on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., will each be followed by a special farewell reception for Father Kencik. His final mass at St. Mary's will be held on Monday at 8 a.m.
The church's new pastor, Father Carl Peltz, will begin at St. Mary's next week.