Goodbye Drive Through
St. James Parish holds Good-Bye Drive By
By Paul Paterra
It was an extremely cold Sunday afternoon, but that didn’t stop people from coming to St. James Parish, New Alexandria, to extend well wishes to the man who would become the sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg.
On Jan. 31, then Bishop-elect Larry J. Kulick celebrated his last Mass as pastor of the parish, a position he held for more than eight years. After Mass, the parish hosted a “goodbye drive-by,” which offered people the opportunity to have a quick chat with him before he was ordained and installed to his new position Feb. 11. A traditional farewell celebration was not possible due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Our parishioners and friends love Bishop-elect Kulick,” said parish secretary Loretta Oken. “He’s just been a joy to work with and for.”
Among those who came to the drive-by were Matt and Jen Mincucci and their daughter, Stella, 6, along with Jen’s mother, Mary Kiley, who have known the bishop for many years. The Mincuccis are parishioners of Our Lady of Grace Parish and Kiley is a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Parish, both in Greensburg.
Jen Mincucci said Bishop Kulick calls her mother “Mother Mary.” He presided over Matt and Jen’s wedding at the cathedral in 2001 and the burial service of their son Cooper, who died at just 28 days in 2009.
“He’s been a part of everything in our life,” said Jen Mincucci of Bishop Kulick. “From birth until death, he’s done it all for us. He’s just so important to us.”
“We’re really excited for him,” Matt Mincucci added. “It’s almost like he’s family to us.”
Bishop Kulick’s visitors that day included Bizmark, Jim Bennett’s mixed breed dog, who is the parish’s unofficial mascot.
The day’s Mass was attended by 84 people, including the bishop’s parents, Myrna and Larry Kulick Sr.; his sister, Lisa Blake, and her husband Randy; and his aunt and uncle, Donna and Tony Krasowski.
“(We feel) very humbled and very blessed,” Myrna Kulick said. “He always wanted to be a priest.”
“I believe these people are picked. There’s no doubt in my mind,” added the bishop’s father.
Oken recalled talking to a parishioner from St. Joseph Parish in New Kensington, where Bishop Kulick once served as pastor, who said she saw a great future for him.
“She said, ‘I knew he was going to be a bishop at one time, but I never thought he would be here in the Diocese of Greensburg,’” Oken recalled. “Just how wonderful it is for us that he is now our shepherd.”
Bishop-elect Kulick said he was very touched by the day’s events.
“It was a beautiful day and a very emotional day,” he said. “I’ve been keeping myself busy with all of the day-to-day activities and also with packing because I knew that if I took too much time to think about it, I would get extremely sentimental and emotional.
“The Mass was very, very beautiful and representative of what I have always seen and found in this parish over the last eight years, and that’s the generosity and the kindness and the support of the people of St. James.”