JACKSONVILLE — A familiar face around Jacksonville for more than a decade, Father Mark Kusmirek bids goodbye at the end of the month to begin his new assignment as pastor of Longview's St. Mary Catholic Church on Aug. 1.
The priest, 63, has served Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church since June, 2005, overseeing missions in Alto, Rusk and New Summerfield.
A native of Youngstown, Ohio, he and his mother relocated to the West Coast in 1963. In 1977, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, where he did parish work in several different cities. Among his assignments was at St. Paul Church in San Francisco, where the 1992 movie “Sister Act” was filmed after he left.
In 1996, at the invitation of priest friend, Father Mark moved to the Diocese of Tyler, which covers a 33-county area of northeast Texas, and was named administrator of Christ the King Church in Kilgore. He went to Washington, DC, in 1999 and worked on the presidential inauguration committee. He also served three years as a Navy chaplain before returning to the diocese, where he was named priest-in-charge of Sacred Heart Church in Rusk, then pastor of the Jacksonville church.
During his tenure at Our Lady of Sorrows, the priest has also had oversight of churches in Rusk, Alto and New Summerfield.
Among his diocesan duties, Father Mark has been chairman of the East Texas Catholic Charities board of directors and was dean of the West Central Deanery, which is comprised of Catholic parishes and missions in Cherokee, Smith, Henderson and Van Zandt counties.
In addition, he has served as a Certified Volunteer Chaplain Assistant at Skykview and Hodge Units of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Rusk, as well as ministry at Rusk State Hospital. He is a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus Assembly 2151.
Locally, Father Mark is a member of the Jacksonville Chambers of Commerce and is a past Chamber board chairman and chairman of the Community Development Division; he was named the Chamber's 2007 “Chairperson of the Year” in 2007.