‘Father Mark’ takes mission to new parish

Posted 6/23/20

The word “parish”, used to describe churches in the Catholic faith, derives from the Greek paroikia, which can be translated to “resident alien”.

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‘Father Mark’ takes mission to new parish


The word “parish”, used to describe churches in the Catholic faith, derives from the Greek paroikia, which can be translated to “resident alien”.

As Father Mark Kusmirek sits in the shadow of his office mural depicting St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, with his golden retriever, Siri, at his feet, this term and the intimate meaning it represents in his life are ever-apparent.

“In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he says our citizenship is in heaven,” said Kusmirek. “This place; this will go away. But where is our true home? Our true home is meant to be in heaven. That residency is in heaven, and everything else is what we do in the process to get there.”

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Madisonville is the seventh parish in Kusmirek’s 43-year journey in priesthood. His three-year stint will come to an end Sunday before he moves on to a new challenge at St. Charles Parish in Frankston.

“I am not going to be a vale of tears,” said Kusmirek when pondering his final mass Sunday. “That is the reason priests take our vows of poverty, chastity and obedience; to say, ‘wherever I am needed’. Of course, you do miss people. You miss events and have good recollections.

“Will I be emotional? Absolutely. Will I mourn? Yes. But there is a new challenge, new people, and the same Gospel.”

St. Charles parish is roughly the same size as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and was founded in 2000. While every new location offers another set of obstacles, Kusmirek has noticed certain common themes in all of the churches he has temporarily called home.

“Every parish I have been to has almost the same ratio of people,” said Kusmirek. “People who are incredibly holy, people who are questioning, people who…, people who…, and so on. It is all the same people, they are just arranged in a different box. This does not at all mean they are not special or unique. But you always have people you treasure, people who are on their way out in life, people getting married, people splitting up.”

Kusmirek will forever harbor fond memories of those many individuals he treasures in the Madisonville community. He will miss his stops at “The Shrine”, which is what he calls Walker’s Cafe, admiring the vast improvements made to the Madisonville Cemetery, his trips to Red’s Barber Shop (where he “never got a bad haircut”), coordinating trash pickup at the Mushroom Festival and working with countless local businesses and organizations.

“Thank you for opening your hearts so widely,” said Kusmirek.

Kusmirek’s role at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton will be filled by Father Guillermo Gabriel-Maisonette from St. Patrick’s Parish in Lufkin. Gabriel-Maisonette, who was born in Puerto Rico, has been ordained for 14 years and is bilingual.

“He is well-educated and well-read,” said Kusmirek. “He is going to fit in very well.”

Meanwhile, Kusmirek will continue down his path and attempt to make new memories in Frankston. But his overarching goal remaining the same as it has for 43 years.

“Our vow means we are not tied to any one person or thing,” said Kusmirek. “You are free to follow the Gospel, that is my goal. I always tell people here that if I have one job, it is to save only one soul, and that is yours. That is the only job I have. Saving souls and bringing them closer to Christ.”