Beloved priest at Albion parish announces retirement

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 March 2023 at 11:15 am

Father Richard Csizmar has served as pastor in Albion the past 28 years

Photos by Tom Rivers: Father Richard Csizmar is shown inside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, where he has been the parish priest for 28 years. He is retiring from full-time ministry. He will continue to lead Mass at local Catholic churches while living in Albion.

ALBION – The Rev. Richard Csizmar has announced his retirement from full-time ministry after more than a half century as a priest.

Csizmar, 80, could have retired five years ago but chose to continue in a full-time role at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in the Holy Family Parish. Csizmar will continue to live in the church rectory in Albion and lead some Mass services as needed in a family of churches that includes Catholic sites in Kendall, Holley, Albion, Medina, Lyndonville, Barker and Middleport.

Father Mark Noonan, the former priest at St. Mark’s in Kendall and St. Mary’s in Holley, is returning to lead the family of local Catholic churches, beginning next weekend.

“It’s been great,” Csizmar said about his 28 years in Albion. “I’ve really loved it. I see myself as the community’s priest.”

Csizmar has two long tenures in his ministry. Before coming to Albion, he served 25 years at Notre Dame High School in Batavia as a teacher and development director. He also served on weekends at St. Joseph’s and St. Anthony’s in Batavia.

He started his ministry with a year in Cherry Creek, and also three months at the Nativity at Harris Hill in Williamsville.

Father Richard Csizmar is shown inside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. About 700 families are part of the Holy Family Parish.

In Albion, Father Csizmar was active in the Albion Ministerium, a group of local clergy that plan community ecumenical services and a baccalaureate service for graduating high school seniors.

He praised the Albion parish for their love shown towards him and many in the community. The parish includes about 700 families and 1,600 people.

“I have felt at home here,” he said during an interview at the church rectory. “It has been a great run. I’ve had a lot of wonderful experiences.”

Father Csizmar said he continues to feel a call to ministry and enjoys preaching and leading Mass.

“I haven’t run out of gas,” he said. “I’m always getting new ideas.”

Susan Starkweather Miller said Father Csizmar has been accepting of new ideas to engage the community, including a new Bible study she is leading with Pete Sidari on Monday mornings and Tuesday evenings. About 70 people are attending that study on the Passion of the Christ. Csizmar is among the attendees.

“Father loves community,” Starkweather Miller said. “He loves to build community in our church. He’s always been very positive and willing to try new things. He is always on board.”

Starkweather Miller is a lecter, eucharistic minister, altar server and Bible study leader at the parish. She is very thankful Father Csizmar will be staying in the Albion community.

“We care so much about him,” she said. “We are so thankful he wants to be with us. Father Dick can continue to do the things he loves.”

Father Dick Csizmar greets Albion firefighters and other first responders during a “Blue Mass” on Oct. 22, 2017 at St. Joseph’s. The service offered appreciation and blessings for first responders. Csizmar worked to connect with many community members during his time at St. Joseph’s.

The parish is also looking forward to Father Mark Noonan leading the family of churches.

“We have the best of both worlds,” Starkweather Miller said.

Joe Gehl is a current church trustee for the Holy Family Parish. He has attended St. Joseph’s since 1971. He said the parish admires Father Csizmar and appreciates his long commitment to the Albion community.

“He is not afraid to get involved in things,” Gehl said. “He considers wherever he is at as part of his family. He just blends in well with anyone regardless of their religious affiliation. He accepts everybody for who they are.”

Father Csizmar in a message to the parish in this weekend’s church bulletin said he is very proud of Mark Noonan who brings a kind and gentle spirit.

“It’s great to be passing the torch to a new generation pastor,” Father Csizmar writes.

Father Richard Csizmar prays a blessing on Albion graduates during a baccalaureate service on June 2, 2019 at the First Baptist Church. Csizmar has been very active in the Albion Ministerium, a group of local clergy members.