Deacon Michael Krupiarz had a theory about urban monks.
He believed they were regular-looking urban dwellers whose places of worship included street corners, parks and classrooms. That’s why he planted flowers to beautify Dewey Avenue intersections of his Maplewood neighborhood in Rochester, and why he quietly returned with jugs of water after no one else took care of the plants. It was part of a life of service, said his wife, Sharon Krupiarz.
“He loved the lifestyle of the monks,” said Krupiarz, who noted that her husband often traveled to the Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard. “He admired their vocation, and how they have silent prayer, and how they devoted their lives to prayer, because he was such a prayerful person.”
Most recently, he dedicated to his counterparts his book, Poems from an Urban Monk. The initial 75 copies were printed through a grant from the Dream Foundation, an organization that fulfills the dreams of terminally ill adults.
Deacon Krupiarz, a theology teacher at Aquinas Institute who battled cancer for six years, died Feb. 10, 2007, at 57.
He studied theology in college and entered St. Bernard’s Seminary in the 1970s, intending to be a priest. He made a name for himself for helping to organize a Peace Committee during the Vietnam War and for his personal battle to wear jeans to class. It was not for a fashion statement, but because he had always worn jeans as part of his working-class upbringing in Rome, N.Y., friend and fellow seminarian Deacon John Erb said.
Realizing his call included a wife and a family, Deacon Krupiarz left the seminary, married and worked for the diocese’s office of Human Development, his wife said.
When the permanent diaconate was established in 1982, he was one of the first to express interest but had to wait until he was the minimum age of 35, Krupiarz said. Deacon Krupiarz was ordained in 1985 and served in several parishes, including St. Mary Church and the former Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Rochester. He and Deacon Erb also taught a field-education program for deacons.
“He had strong beliefs, but I never met anybody that didn’t like Mike,” Deacon Erb said, noting that his friend had even been arrested with the homeless during a demonstration.
Deacon Krupiarz taught at the former Cardinal Mooney High School from 1983 to 1988 and later taught theology at Aquinas for 18 years. His wife said he loved teaching. In November, when his health worsened, his students sent notes telling him he was an inspiration, she said.
His faith sustained him through his illness, Krupiarz said.
“He had no fear of dying,” she said. “He felt that was a natural part of living, and because of his faith, he felt he was going home to be with God.”
In addition to his wife, Deacon Krupiarz is survived by his parents, Michael and Kathryn Krupiarz; his children, Michael C. and Michelle Krupiarz; his sisters, Cynthia (Michael) Martin and Dawn (G. Richard Kinsella) Krupiarz; and several nieces and nephews.
His Feb. 13 funeral Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral was attended by hundreds of people from Aquinas. Interment was in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Aquinas or Journey Home.