Sto Lat - 80th Birthday
Very Rev. Canon John Mikalajunas
Father John E. Mikalajunas was born on August 24, 1943, the only child of John and Johanna (Bonczek) Mikalajunas. He was super-naturally reborn in the Sacrament of Baptism through the hands of the Rev. Peter J. Koleczek on September 6, 1943, with Mr. William Bonczek and Mrs. Genevieve Fiato as sponsors. It was in that ceremony that he was first anointed with Holy Chrism, which would one day initiate him into the Royal Priesthood of Jesus Christ.
On the elementary level Fr. John was educated in his parish school of St. Stanislaus Kostka by the following Felician nuns: Srs. Ambrosianne, Ueen, Florian, Clarissa, and Eulogia. His cousin Sr. Presentia has always been a positive element in his vocation. On May 18, 1952, Fr. John received Christ in the Eucharist from his pastor, the Rev. George L. Guzewicz. During this period of physical and spiritual maturation he was anointed a second time with Holy Chrism by Bishop David F. Cunningham, through the Sacrament of Confirmation on May 8, 1955. After his graduation from St. Stanislaus Kostka School on June 21, 1957, he continued his studies at C. Fred Johnson School and earned his regents and high school diploma from Johnson City High School on June 26, 1961.
In the fall of 1961, he entered St. Mary's College, Orchard Lake, Michigan, and was awarded his Bachelor of Arts Degree on May 29, 1965. Father then pursued his theological studies at SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake, Michigan. During his seminary years he was manager of the campus bookstore, President of the Empire State Club, Editor of its paper entitled Camol, President of the Polish Literary Society, Vice President of the SS. Cyril and Methodius Apostolate, and Treasurer of the Eucharistic League.
On May 17, 1969, John Edward Mikalajunas was ordained a "Priest Forever" in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. He was anointed a third time with Holy Chrism by Bishop David F. Cunningham at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, New York. On May 18, 1969, Fr. John offered his First Solemn Concelebrated Mass in the Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka seventeen years to the day since he received his First Holy Communion.
In his own words: "Being a student at St. Stanislaus Kostka Elementary School in Binghamton, I came to respect the joy that my parish priests shared with all. Fr. Guzewicz, was pastor from my birth until my ordination. He was a great man, and I was attracted to his style of being kind to people. The people interaction and kindness made me want to imitate him. Graduating from Johnson City High School, I went to St. Mary's College in Orchard Lake, Michigan, receiving my B.A. in Philosophy and then to SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary receiving my Master’s in Divinity. I was ordained on May 17, 1959, in Syracuse, along with 11 other young men to serve the seven counties that comprise our area. I served one year in Syracuse, 39 in the Southern Tier and now 10 at Holy Trinity."
As Fr. John continues: "In July of 2009, with the retirement of Fr. Arthur Hapanowicz who served Holy Trinity for 19 years, I was assigned by Bishop James Moynihan to succeed him in my pastoral work. The doors of Holy Trinity are open to all who wish to worship God with us in our splendid granite gothic-style church on Lincoln Avenue. From its beginning in 1896 it has served the needs of people who worship in English and in Polish. The priest here needs to be bilingual to celebrate baptisms, Mass, marriages, and confession. Since I am fluent in both languages, I was asked after receiving my application to serve Holy Trinity by Bishop Moynihan."
In 2015 in Lublin, Poland, Archbishop Stanislaus Budzik bestowed the title of Honorary Canon of Lublin on Fr. John for his devoted labors in preserving the Polish Catholic Heritage. This was given approval in the U.S. by Bishop Robert Cunningham of Syracuse. In April of the same year, the Polish American Priests Association, with its annual convention being held in Utica, Fr. John was awarded its highest honor for the Pastoral and Polish Cultural Ministry with the Fr. Leopold Moczygemba Award. Fr. Moczygemba was a pastor of St. Joseph's in Utica in the 1800 before going to Panna Maria, Texas, to establish the first Polish American Catholic Church.
The parish is planning a birthday reception on Sunday, August 20th after the 11:30 AM Mass in the School Gymnasium at 1206 Lincoln Ave., Utica, NY 13502.