Rev. Francis J. Chmielewski, church pastor - The Buffalo News
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Rev. Francis J. Chmielewski, church pastor

Nov. 13, 1947 - Aug. 7, 2014

The Rev. Francis J. Chmielewski, pastor of St. Bernard Catholic Church, died Thursday in the parish rectory after a short illness. He was 66.

Father Chmielewski was born in Buffalo and graduated from Diocesan Preparatory Seminary before earning bachelor of arts and master of divinity degrees from St. John Vianney Seminary in East Aurora. He also was educated for hospital chaplaincy at the St. Jude Center.

Ordained by Bishop Edward D. Head on May 26, 1973, Father Chmielewski’s first assignment was as a Boy Scout chaplain that summer before he became a parochial vicar at St. Joseph’s in Niagara Falls.

Father Chmielewski served as a temporary hospital chaplain at Mercy and Millard Fillmore hospitals in 1977, the same year he served as an administrator of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Buffalo.

He served as parochial vicar at St. Francis of Assisi in Buffalo until 1985, when he began a 16-year assignment as chaplain of Buffalo’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He also was a weekend associate of St. Bernard Parish on Clinton Street, Buffalo.

In 2001, Father Chmielewski became pastor of St. Bernard. In 2008, he became senior parochial vicar at St. Casimir and St. Bernard parishes, and in 2010, he served as temporary administrator of the linked parishes of St. Bernard and St. Casimir. He became pastor again of St. Bernard in 2011.

At the VA hospital, Father Chmielewski received quality assurance and superior performance awards.

Bishop Richard J. Malone will officiate at a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Bernard’s Church, 1990 Clinton St. Father Chmielewski will lie in state in the church from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday.

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