DUPONT — “My heart will always be with you,” Fr. Joseph Verespy said as he closed out his final Mass at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Dupont July 3.
Verespy has led parishioners at Sacred Heart since 1999, and now he takes on his new assignment at St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church in Wilkes-Barre. Verespy will become the seventh priest in over 160-year history of the church.
“The Mass was beautiful, but I had to keep my emotions in check,” Versepy, 63, said. “Two parishioners gave tributes and usually you have be laying in the middle aisle before you hear nice things said about you and it was nice to hear.”
Verespy has mixed emotions about leaving Sacred Heart but knows his new duties lie with the people of St. Nick’s. “People are very involved with St. Nick’s,” Verespy said of his new parish.
Rose Carlin, of Avoca, transferred to Sacred Heart from St. Peter and Paul Church in Avoca two years ago due to its closing.
“The transition wasn’t too bad and Fr. Verespy is just as nice as the last priest we had at Peter and Paul. I just love this man,” Carlin said of Verespy.
Jacqualyn Kasa, of Wyoming, has been a member of Sacred Heart for as long as Verespy’s term.
“This was my husband’s family’s parish and he wanted to get married here and we’ve been here ever since,” said Kasa.
Kasa said Verespy has been a big part of her family’s lives ever since they joined the parish.
“I’m devastated completely by it,” Kasa said, referring to Verespy moving on. “Father, he’s been everything. Chris and I started dating with him, we did our Pre-Cana course before we got married with him, he married us, and (baptism) and First Holy Communion and everything my children ever done, have been with him.”
Kasa admitted that prior to her joining Sacred Heart, she wasn’t much of a churchgoer, but once she and Chris went through Pre-Cana, a pre-marriage course, they both recognized Verespy was special.
“We realized this guy is awesome and we started to come to church and we just didn’t do it for the sake of us getting married, we actually became parishioners because of him.”
Kasa’s children, 12-year-old Maya and 9-year-old Lilly, have been followers of Verespy over the years.
“Lilly was an altar-server for his final Mass today,” said Kasa.
After Verespy’s final Mass, throngs of parishioners, family and friends filtered to the basement for a luncheon in his honor.
“It’s been incredibly emotional, as you can tell. I have no makeup left,” Kasa said.
Wednesday, July 6 marked the first time in 17 years the parishioners of Sacred Heart will have a new pastor. Fr. Tom Petro, an Exeter native and graduate of Seton Catholic High School in Pittston, takes over this week.
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