June 24-July 7,04
A Wonderful Life
By Kristen Fox / SUN Staff Writer
Father Edwin Comeskey was a Faithful Priest
UTICA –– On Friday, June 11, family and friends gathered at Our Lady of Lourdes Church to pay their final respects to Father Edwin T. Comeskey. In the midst of their sorrow, mourners praised a life lived to the fullest and a priest much loved and respected by the communities he served. “We are here to celebrate the life of a great priest and pastor,” said Bishop James Moynihan, who celebrated the Mass of Christian burial. “Father Comeskey touched the lives of many people.”
Father Comeskey died on Wednesday, June 9, 2004. He was born on July 24, 1928, in Utica, the son of the late David and Gladys Aldridge Comeskey. He attended Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School in Utica and graduated from St. Francis de Sales High School in Utica in 1946. He studied for the priesthood at St. Andrew’s Minor Seminary and St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester. Father Comeskey attended Theological College in Washington, D.C., where he earned his S.T.L. degree. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 28, 1955, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception by Bishop Walter A. Forey. Father Comeskey served at St. Paul’s Church in Norwich, St. Patrick’s Church in Utica and St. Vincent de Paul Church in Syracuse, where he was associate pastor and part-time director of vocations.
He was pastor of Corpus Christi Church in South Onondaga with a mission at St. Patrick’s Church in Otisco, including an assignment at the Indian Reservation. Father Comeskey served at St. Catherine’s Church in Vernon with the mission of St. Agnes’ Church in Vernon Center. In August of 1974, St. Catherine’s Church burned down, resulting in the merging of St. Catherine’s and St. Agnes’ Church, known as the Church of the Holy Family. During the homily, Father Michael Carmola, director of Christ the King Retreat Center in Syracuse, touched on Father Comeskey’s unwavering faith, even after the fire that ravaged his beloved parish. “He was not only a faithful man, but a faith-filled one,” Father Carmola said. “Little by little, after the fire, he brought together the people of St. Catherine’s and St. Agnes’. Whenever he was asked to tell the story of how the churches came together, he said, ‘God was with me. He inspired me.’”
Father Carmola said that Father Comeskey was an example of Jesus Christ to all. Like Christ, Father Cosmeskey had a tremendous gift of hospitality –– a gift that will not soon be forgotten. Everyone who met Father Comeskey was welcomed with open arms, recalled Father Carmola. “He welcomed everyone into his parish and made them feel like a part of the family,” said Father Carmola. “He could call all the children in religion classes by name. He was such a warm and caring person.” Father Comeskey was eulogized by Thomas Malecki, Christine Lowrie and Aaron Matthew Comeskey. Malecki, a parishioner of the Church of the Holy Family, had known Father Comeskey for over 25 years. He spoke about some of the characteristics that made Father Comeskey such an extraordinary priest and friend. He echoed Father Carmola’s thoughts on Father Comeskey’s generosity of spirit.
“Whoever you were, he would always go out of his way to make you feel comfortable,” said Malecki. “He filled weddings and funerals with warmth and personal touches.” Malecki added that Father Comeskey was a man who was “well respected and liked by all people.” “This is because he always found the good in everyone,” he said. “He was the finest individual I had ever met.” Aaron Matthew Comeskey read an Irish blessing. Christine Lowrie, who first met Father Comeskey 44 years ago while preparing for her Confirmation, recited the poem, “The Weaver,” which she found in Father Comeskey’s possessions after he died. Father Comeskey is survived by two brothers, Father John Comeskey, chaplain of St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Utica; Patrick D. Comeskey; a sister-in-law, Margaret Mary Baker Comeskey; and several nieces and nephews and grandnieces, grandnephews and cousins. During the service, Father Carmola told the friends and family of Father Comeskey that they should be proud of him. “He was used by God to touch thousands and thousands of hearts,” said Father Carmola, who added that when thinking of Father Comeskey’s death, he is reminded of the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
“I think that when Father Ed left his body and came before God, that God showed him all the lives he touched and all the hearts that were never the same because he left prints on them,” Father Carmola said. “We will never forget the light that he lit in the hearts of those he served.”
Remembrances in Father Comeskey’s name may be made to the Our Lady of Lourdes Scholarship Fund, 11 Barton Ave., Utica, N.Y. 13502 or the Church of the Holy Family, 4343 Peterboro Road, Vernon, N.Y. 13476.