Utica church’s Divine Mercy Sunday features

Deacon Prusko

Submitted by Bob Stronach, OFS

   St. Joseph-St. Patrick Church at 702 Columbia Street in Utica will celebrate its 28th annual Divine Mercy Sunday on April 23 with an afternoon of services.

   The featured homilist, Deacon Richard E. Prusko, is parish deacon, music director, and business administrator at St. Mark Church in North Utica. He is a former prison watch commander who retired in 1997 after suffering life-threatening injuries in a prison riot.

   Services start with music and the Sacrament of Reconciliation at 1:30 p.m., followed by the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 2:30 p.m. and then Mass at 3 p.m. Following Mass, there will be veneration of the Divine Mercy Image and a blessing with a first-class relic of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska.

    “The message and devotion to Jesus as the Divine Mercy — that God loves us and wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins — is based on the writings of St. Faustina of Poland,” explained Betty Frank, OFS, who helped organize the first Divine Mercy Sunday observance at St. Joseph-St. Patrick in 1989.

   Pope St. John Paul II encouraged devotion to the Divine Mercy calling it “the answer to the world’s problems and the message of the third millennium.”  Pope Francis declared 2016 as an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy and said: “Let the Church always be a place of Mercy and Hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved, and forgiven.” 

   About the speaker:

   Deacon Prusko was ordained a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Syracuse on June 12, 2004, by the late Bishop James M. Moynihan. The deacon and his wife, Donna, have been members of St. Mark Parish in North Utica for 29 years. He also serves as chaplain for the Deerfield Volunteer Fire Department.

   A native of Schenectady, Deacon Prusko comes from a family line with three uncles who were Roman Catholic priests. He is a graduate of Plattsburgh State University with a degree in business administration/economics. Deacon Richard and Donna were married in 1979 at St. Patrick’s Church in Rouses Point, N.Y, in the Ogdensburg Diocese.

   He was employed with the New York State Department of Corrections for 20 years, serving as a correction officer, sergeant, and lieutenant watch commander.