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Father Richard Kopinski Announces Retirement

A popular novel, The Cardinal, first gave young Richard Kopinski the idea that he might have a calling to be a priest.

“I was taken with the idea of a priest as someone who belongs exclusively to God,” said Father Kopinski, pastor of St. Hyacinth Catholic Church, Glen Head. He had read the 1950 novel by Henry Morton Robinson. The novel was made into a 1963 film directed by Otto Preminger.

That calling would take him far from Long Island, first to the University of Notre Dame and later Africa, but eventually back to Long Island.

Now, he is preparing to retire June 26, having served as pastor of St. Hyacinth for more than 20 years. “I’ve tried to live that out.”

Succeeding him will be Father Marian Bicz, pastor of Our Lady of Ostrabrama, Cutchogue.

Growing up in Greenlawn, he belonged to St. Philip Neri, Northport, and attended the parish school. The family later moved to St. Anthony of Padua, East Northport.

“We were a very Catholic family,” he recalled. “Mass on Sunday and rosary during the week.” He went to St. Dominic High School, Oyster Bay, and became involved in the Catholic Student Mission Crusade.

Once he attended a conference of the Catholic Student Mission Crusade at Notre Dame. There, he became attracted to the Holy Cross Fathers, who founded Notre Dame.

“I wanted to become a foreign missionary,” Father Kopinski said. He went to Notre Dame, entered the Holy Cross Fathers. After he was ordained, he was sent to the missions in Uganda, Africa. After a few years, he returned to the U.S. and served as a teacher at Holy Cross High School in Flushing, Queens.

After a while, he applied to become a diocesan priest for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Long Island, in 1973.

He served as associate pastor at St. Catherine of Sienna, Franklin Square, Holy Name of Mary, Valley Stream, and later as teacher at St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary, Uniondale, a high school for young men interested in the priesthood.

In 1984, he was assigned to his first pastorate, Our Lady of Ostrabrama, which is a Polish ethnic parish in Cutchogue. His years there were happy.

“It was my introduction to Polish culture,” Father Kopinski said. His family was Polish, but there were few Polish families where he grew up and he had limited opportunity to experience Polish language, culture, music and the unique Polish Church tradition.

“I didn’t know Polish, so I had to learn,” because some of the Masses are offered in Polish. “I still don’t know it as well as I’d like, but I can get by.”

He came to St. Hyacinth, also a Polish parish, in 1992. “This has been a wonderful parish. The people have been very supportive and generous.”

Looking back through his varied experiences, Father Kopinski said that he is happy with the priesthood.

 “There are surprises. While you are being trained you concentrate on the spiritual aspects of the priesthood but much of your time is working with people and finding harmony with the people who are serving.

“My greatest joy is to be able to offer Mass,” Father Kopinski said, as well as to be with the people in their difficulties as well as their joys.

Father Kopinski will continue to live at St. Hyacinth and hopes to still assist. He has no other plans for retirement at this point. “I’d like to travel,” but health problems make it difficult for him to travel alone.

“People tell me that I should have a hobby,” Father Kopinski said, “but I have never had time for a hobby. Perhaps I will now.”

News

On Saturday, July 5, Building J on the Western Waterfront was opened to the public for a free concert of classical music played by talented youth in the Oyster Bay Music Festival. The acoustics in the large metal shed were lively as the backdrop of the Ida May, a wooden oyster dredge under construction, lent artisanal flavor to the rich stew of mostly sea-related musical selections. People sat on stacks and benches of freshly milled wood or stood in the cavernous space. They soaked in beautiful solos, duets and trios that combined voice, piano, flute, cello and violin. Frank M Flower & Sons provided fresh oysters that engaged the palate, and representatives from Steinway & Sons gave a quick overview of how their pianos are made, relating several aspects of their meticulous process to the construction of the Ida May.

Last week was one of Oyster Bay’s biggest, most anticipated summer events, the Italian American Society’s St. Rocco’s Festival. Returning to its usually spot in Fireman’s Field on Shore Avenue, the festival was filled with amusement rides, live music, and great food and company.

“We come every year to St. Rocco’s with friends,” said Laura Regan of East Norwich. “The rides and awesome food make it a lot of fun.”


Sports

Oakcliff’s intensive training program provided a high level of competition last weekend at the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship in Oyster Bay.

This year, the teams selected for the event were highly ranked through the United States, and several of the competitors are past and current Oakcliff trainees, including Elizabeth Shaw, Kathryn Shiber, Madeline Gill, and Danielle Gallo.

A total of 11 members of St. Dominic Track Team (grades 1-8) recently medaled at the Nassau-Suffolk CYO Championship Finals at Mitchel Field. In the finals, the athletes competed against the finalists from all three regions, representing more than 2,500 athletes from 23 other parishes.

In addition to the student athletes’ success, the track coaches were honored as well. St. Dominic CYO Track coaches Phil Schade (grades 1-3), Julie and Mike Keffer (grades 4-6) and Rich Cameron (grades 7-8) were selected by peer coaches in their region for the NSCYO Team Sportsmanship Award. The Saint Dominic CYO track program, in its second year, has already proven to be a force to be reckoned with and the young runners are among the best on Long Island.


Calendar

OB Band Concerts

Wednesday, July 23

Music Under The Stars

Friday, July 25

Annual Chicken BBQ

Saturday, July 26



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com