Hospital ministry is one of the things Father Walter J. Plominski, 70, has enjoyed most in his 45 years as a priest. Since 2005, he has served as a chaplain at area hospitals, including the facilities of Unity Health System as well as Strong Memorial and Highland hospitals, where he currently serves.
He said he has appreciated the chance to give people the sacraments when they needed them most.
"It’s the kind of thing we were ordained as priests to do," said Father Plominski, who will be retiring at the end of May.
A native of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Father Plominski said he came from a strong Catholic family and attended Catholic grade school, high school and Kings College in Wilkes-Barre for two years before entering St. Pius X Seminary in Dalton, Pa. He also earned a master’s degree in religious studies from Marywood College in Scranton, Pa.
He was ordained for the Diocese of Scranton at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton by then-Bishop J. Carroll McCormick on May 25, 1968. He said he decided to move to the Rochester area after hearing positive things about the diocese and about Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark.
In 1993, Father Plominski began as assistant pastor in the Corning-Painted Post Roman Catholic Community, which comprised Immaculate Heart of Mary in Painted Post and St. Mary, St. Patrick and St. Vincent DePaul in Corning. In 1994, he became parochial vicar at St. Patrick, Seneca Falls. In 1996, he became priest administrator for St. Margaret Mary in Apalachin.
Later that year he served as priest administrator of St. Columba/St. Patrick Parish in Caledonia, and among his accomplishments was bringing the Renew program of small Christian communities to the parish, which parishioners at the time credited with helping to revitalize attendance.
In 2000, he was appointed pastor of the parish and was incardinated into the Diocese of Rochester on Aug. 28 of that year. He served in Caledonia until 2005, when he was appointed sacramental minister of Guardian Angels in Henrietta (2005-12). He also began serving as a hospital chaplain in 2005; he said he found hospital ministry to be very rewarding because it was clear that he was helping people.
"The hospital ministry is a very wonderful ministry," Father Plominski said. "It’s a very powerful ministry."
In 2012, Father Plominski was appointed parochial vicar of St. Anne and Our Lady of Lourdes Parishes in Rochester and Brighton. He said he hasn’t determined where he will wind up after he retires, but he said he is open to filling in if priests are sick as long as his health permits.
"I hope to keep my hand in it to the extent that I am able," Father Plominski said of ministry.