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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

Despite the national media attention about Ebola in recent weeks, there is one virus that is actually affecting Long Islanders, Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), with one of the first cases identified in North Hempstead on Sept. 18 and a recent case on Oct. 15 in Suffolk County, which school officials called for the closing of school, as a health precaution.

Dr. Charles Schleien, chairman of the department of pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, said that although the enterovirus is still active, cases are dwindling on Long Island. According to Schleien, approximately 500 cases have been reported this season of enterovirus, at Cohen’s Children Medical Center, with two to six patients being admitted per day.

Matt Bentz, of Forest Hills, was the winner of the Oyster Festival Raffle that took place as the event ended at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19. He had a choice between winning a 2015 Chrysler 200 three-year lease or $15,000 in cash. He chose the cash. He is the “Perfect Oyster Festival Raffle winner.”

Bentz is a computer systems administrator with Spa Creek Software, a company that writes software for other software developers, and has been to the festival numerous times over the years; in fact, next year he is hoping to sail here on his 24 ft. sailboat. He got it “reasonably” from a friend who was buying up.


Sports

The autumn varsity sports season is well on its way in Oyster Bay. Many young athletes have distinguished themselves. Several fine young athletes excelled right out of the gate and were chosen by the Oyster Bay Hight School coaches as Athletes of the Month for October 2014.

Cross Country Coach Kevin Cotter has athletes who consistently qualify for the states. Picking one to honor is a difficult task. Within this impressive group of talented athletes, one stands out: junior Alex Tosi, who recently broke the 17 minute barrier for a 5K course at Bethpage State park with a time of 16:52. This feat has not been accomplished since 2008.

5- and 6-year-old Peanuts

The Little Generals (Peanuts) stepped out into the cold Sunday morning ready to give the home crowd a show as they battled the Bellmore Braves, and that’s just what they did as the Generals beat the Braves 14-7. The teams battled to a first half tie as the Generals’ touchdown came on a 26-yard run by Kody Gehnrich, thanks to great blocks by John (Jack) Grace and Jack Symanski.

In the second half, where the Generals are usually at their best, the defense shut out the Braves as Rodney Hill, Jr. and Brandon Babel stepped in on the defense line to create a great push to allow Francesco Allocca to make eight tackles. The offense got a big boost with Allocca being allowed to play RB after playing QB the past two games, and boy did he respond behind great lead blocking from Luca Granito. Allocca carried the ball nine times for 60 yards and a TD coming on the last play of the game.


Calendar

Boys & Girls Club Gala

Thursday, October 23

Halloween Party

Saturday, October 25

Property Tax Exemptions Workshop

Tuesday, October 28



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