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, the Rev. Deacon Richard E. Prusko, is parish deacon, music director and business administrator at St. Mark’s 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 Saint Faustina of Poland,” explained Betty Frank, OFS, who helped organize the first Divine Mercy Sunday observance at St. Joseph-St. Patrick in 1989.
Pope Saint 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 Richard E. Prusko was ordained a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Syracuse on June 12, 2004, by the late Bishop James M. Moynihan. He and his wife Donna have been members of St. Mark’s Parish in North Utica for the past 29 years. He is currently serving the parish as business administrator, director of music and parish deacon. Deacon Richard also serves as chaplain for the Deerfield Volunteer Fire Department.
A native of Schenectady, New York, Deacon Richard 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, New York 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. He retired in 1997 after sustaining life-threatening injuries in the Mohawk Prison Riot.