Nativity of Our Lord Parish members bid farewell to Fr. Sinnott, welcome Fr. Polednak

By Gina Thackara

For Sunday Dispatch

Ken and Ann Francis, of Avoca, bids farewell to Fr. Andrew Sinnott who retired when he reached the age of 75.

Fr. Sinnott says good-bye to so many parishioners, including Matt Klein, right, during a farewell party held in his honor at Holy Rosary gym/auditorium.

Mike Wasko, left, of Old Forge, says his good-byes to Fr. Sinnott.

This is the end of a very long line of family, friends and parishioners wishing Fr. Sinnott well in his retirement.

As Holy Rosary parishioners say good-bye to Fr. Sinnott, right, they say hello to new pastor, Fr. John Polednak.

Incoming pastor Fr. John Polednak chats with the parish’s musical director, David Tighe.

DURYEA — As with any good book, the end of one chapter signals the start of another.

The setting for this story was the gymasium at Holy Rosary School where more than 200 parishioners gathered on June 28 to bid farewell to one shepherd and to welcome a new one.

For the annals of Nativity of Our Lord Parish, Father Andrew Sinnott’s chapter came to an end Sunday evening. He will be missed for his gentle manner, his steady hand through tough times and for his “assistant,” his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Macy.

“We have to mention Macy,” said Kathleen Gilmartin, who was a teacher in Holy Rosary School for 27 years and principal until two years ago. “She was a big part of the parish, as well. And a favorite visitor here at the school.”

Gilmartin said Fr. Sinnott was an advocate for the school and its students, visiting often, working with the staff to ensure their charges were getting the best education possible.

But that wasn’t his only legacy to the parish.

“Fr. Sinnott came to us into a tough situation,” said Helen Negevsky. “Our previous pastor, Father Rokosz, was sick, churches were being closed and yet, Fr. Sinnott brought us all together.”

The pastor also reinstituted the men’s and women’s societies in the parish and got parish activities moving. More than one person commented on his willingness to roll up his sleeves and get down to work on parish projects, said Rosa Rava, of Duryea.

“As for how good my homilies were, it depends on who you ask,” Fr. Sinnott said.

And on the next page, the story begins for Father John Polednak.

He was ready to start work Monday morning after the move from St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Kingston.

“I am looking forward to it all,” Fr. Polednak said. “I got to know the people here when I came to assist Fr. Rokocz and I found them to be delightful and very helpful.”

Fr. Polednak also got a taste of the parish life in Duryea when he helped three of the churches there meld into the Nativity parish after church closings several years ago.

And what the Nativity parish now has is an excellent administrator, a caring pastor, an excellent homilist – and a fan of the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle.

And the story goes on.

For the immediate future, Fr. Polednak is planning to continue the good work started by his predecessor and hopes to move the parish forward.

As for Sunday evening, his work was already planned. He’d mustered up three strong young parishioners, Michael Wasko, of Old Forge, Matthew Klein and Brandon Winn, both of Duryea, to help him unload the U-Haul truck that carried his belongings from Kingston.

“We’re just glad to help,” Wasko said. “We all went to school here; we grew up in this church. It’s normal just to pitch in and help out.”

It’s not the first time the Forest City native has moved since he was ordained in 1976. He’s had more than half a dozen priestly appointments under the leadership of three different bishops. As well as tending to parishes, he also holds several jobs in the diocesan administration.

“I’ll be as busy as ever,” he said.

On the other hand, retirement is nothing new for Fr. Sinnott.

“I was a bank vice-president when I did it the first time,” said the Wilkes-Barre native.

One of six sons of a coal miner, Fr. Sinnott was the son who stayed home to take care of his mother after his father’s death. He worked as a banker and retired as a vice-president, then entered the seminary and was ordained 16 years ago. His mother lived long enough to see her son begin his second career.

“This will be the last time I retire,” he said.

He plans to spend a few months unpacking boxes in his Kingston apartment and helping Macy get accustomed to her new digs. His bucket list includes a trip to Rome, a place he’s “always wanted to visit” and visits to a brother in Arizona – especially in January and February – and another brother in Boston.

The parishioners at Nativity of Our Lord Parish can’t wait to see what happens next.

“It’s really kind of bittersweet,” said Andrew Lentowski, of Duryea. “It’s sad that we have to say goodbye to Fr. Sinnott. He’s an excellent priest and did wonderful work here. But we’re looking forward to Fr. Polednak. It’s an opportunity not all churches have to get two good men like this. We are blessed and fortunate here.”

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