Father Mark Kopacz, a native of Poland who served in the Diocese of Wilmington since his ordination in 1992, died Dec. 27. He was 49.
The funeral Mass for Father Kopacz was Jan. 2 at St. Hedwig Church in Wilmington. Interment was at All Saints Cemetery.
Father Kopacz’s most recent assignment was as a chaplain to the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Jeanne Jugan Residence in Newark. He also had served as a chaplain for the Christiana Care Health System and the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna.
After his ordination, he was an associate pastor at Holy Family Church in Newark. He also ministered as an associate at Ss. Peter and Paul, Easton, Md., and St. Mary Star of the Sea, Ocean City, Md.
Bill Davis, a longtime music minister at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Wilmington, said he met Father Kopacz at a Mass and later saw the priest at a retail furniture store where Davis works. Father Kopacz recognized Davis from church and asked if there was anything he could do for him. Davis asked Father Kopacz to pray for a boy who had been killed in an automobile accident. The boy’s sister worked for Davis.
“On every occasion we met after that he would inquire about the girl and how she was doing,” Davis said. “He touched my heart with his amazing care and love. That’s a real priest. I will sadly miss him.”
Davis said Father Kopacz would begin his homilies with a joke or humorous story to get people’s attention, “then mold a poignant lesson from that story that kept the congregation’s attention and made them appreciate the love of God for them and the importance of their caring for each other.”
Born in Mielec, Poland, he attended a college seminary in his homeland before completing his studies for the priesthood at Ss. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Mich.