Father Andrew J. Kalafsky, a New Jersey native known as “Father K.” to parishioners in Steuben County where he actively served during his retirement, died Friday, April 13, 2007, at Schuyler Hospital in Montour Falls after a short illness. He was 88 years old.
Father Kalafsky retired in 1989 but continued to serve the central Steuben County parishes of St. Catherine, Addison; St. Stanislaus, Bradford; and St. Joseph, Campbell, which are commonly known as the “A-B-C” parishes.
“He was always a person of great service, and he was willing to be of help whenever he could when he retired,” said Father Michael Conboy, director of priest personnel for the Diocese of Rochester.
Born in New Jersey on New Year’s Day 1919, Father Kalafsky attended Seton Hall Preparatory School and Seton Hall College in South Orange, N.J.; Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, N.J.; and Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where he received his licentiate in sacred theology in 1943. He was ordained a priest June 19, 1943, at St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral in Newark.
Father Kalafsky served for 27 years in the Archdiocese of Newark before moving to the Rochester area in 1970. He was incardinated a priest of the Rochester Diocese on Nov. 11, 1974.
Father Conboy said he got to know Father Kalafsky when the New Jersey priest served from 1970 to 1976 as associate pastor of Irondequoit’s St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, his first posting in the area. He said Father Kalafsky had been invited to serve in the Rochester Diocese by Msgr. Francis Burns, a longtime faculty member at St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester. Father Kalafsky proved to be very interested in serving people and the community, Father Conboy noted.
In 1976, Father Kalafsky became pastor of St. Mary of the Lake, Watkins Glen, and St. Benedict, Odessa, where he served until his retirement in 1989. In retirement, he served as temporary administrator of St. Catherine of Siena in Addison, in 1990 and of St. Pius V/Sacred Heart, Cohocton/Perkinsville, in 1991. He also assisted at St. Stanislaus, St. Joseph and St. Catherine of Siena.
When Father Kalafsky was first assigned to the Addison parish, he went out into the community and tried to meet everyone in town, said Mary Jane Gill, a St. Catherine parishioner.
“He was very enthusiastic, almost bubbly,” Gill said. “He was very much interested in having us learn all we could about our religion. He loved to be an instructor, and he loved to talk. His second vocation should have been as an entertainer.”
The priest often spoke fondly of “Father Daisy,” a New Jersey priest who had been influential in Father Kalafsky’s decision to become a priest, Gill said. Father Kalafsky’s dog is even named Daisy, she noted.
Father Kalafsky said Mass regularly at each of the three A-B-C parishes, Gill said, and helped out whenever he was needed to ensure that the parishes didn’t cut back on their service to the community. She said if Father Gerald O’Connor, pastor, was ill Father Kalafsky would take care of all three parishes.
In his spare time, Father Kalafsky enjoyed traveling and took bus trips with parishioners, Gill said.
“He made everybody feel important and needed,” she said.
Father Kalafsky had intended to retire again in June when Father O’Connor retired, Father Conboy said. In a recent interview with the Courier, Father O’Connor — who couldn’t be reached for comment as of press time April 13 — noted that Father Kalafsky had planned to reside with him at his Himrod home.
Father Kalafsky was to lay in state April 18 at St. Stanislaus, St. Joseph and at St. Catherine churches. His funeral Mass was to be celebrated by Bishop Matthew H. Clark April 19 at St. Catherine, and burial was to take place in New Jersey.