Father Rudy Pakiz was more than the pastor at St. Martin’s. Everyone seems to remember certain things about Father. His love for singing. His love of nature. His gardening. His welcoming of deer into his yard. His poetry which was published in a book several years ago.
His death has touched the lives of his parishioners, who also considered him their friend. “He was a people’s priest,” said Helen Adkisson, “He went to coffee with us, he liked to be with people and out in the public.”
Adkisson also spoke of Pakiz’s religious spirit. “He lived his faith every minute of the day,” she said.
But he is also remembered as a person. “He was quiet but he had a big impact,” said Katie Popesh, who remembered how comfortable he was with parishioners during the smaller week day Mass services. “He could always put a smile on my face,” she said.
Church secretary Fran Silverberg worked side-by-side with Pakiz during the 13 years he spent at St. Martin’s, and she provided lots of special assistance as the priest grew older. “The church will definitely miss him,” she said. “It will be different not seeing him around.” Pakiz retired from the parish this past summer, after 60 years in the priesthood. He joked about his retirement with this reporter earlier this summer.
“People ask me where am I going after I retire,” Pakiz said, “And I say heaven or hell.” But Pakiz’s retirement dreams of moving back to his boyhood home in Chisholm were cut short when he was diagnosed with cancer this summer. He was honored during this year’s Fourth of July celebration as the community’s honored senior citizen and proudly rode in the parade. He spent most of his final days being cared for at St. Martin’s Rectory until shortly before his death on Nov. 3.
Rev. Rudolph Pakiz, 85 -- The Rev. Rudolph Pakiz, priest of the Diocese of Duluth, died on Friday, Nov. 3, 2006, in the Diamond Willow Residence in Mountain Iron. A Mass of Christian Burial was said on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2006, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Chisholm, with the Most Rev. Dennis Schnurr, bishop of the Duluth Diocese, as the celebrant. Visitation on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006, with wake prayers was led by the Rev. John O’Donnell. Burial was in the Calvary Cemetery in Chisholm. Father Rudy preferred memorials. Services provided by Bauman-Vermilion, a Bauman Family Funeral Home in Tower. To share a personal remembrance online, go to www.baumanfuneralhome.com.
He was born on Feb. 5, 1921, in Chisholm, the son of Anton and Emma (Zakrajsek) Pakiz, one of six children. He graduated from Nazareth Hall and the St. Paul Seminary, and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Duluth on June 8, 1946, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Duluth. From 1946 through June of 2006 he actively served parishes of the Duluth Diocese: St. James Catholic Church in Duluth’s West End and Holy Rosary Church (before it became the Cathedral) in Duluth’s East end were his first assignments. As pastor, Floodwood, Warba and Goodland were his first parishes. He also served in Carlton, Hackensack and Walker, Nashwauk and Pengilly, Longville and Remer, Hill City and Swatara. The last 13 years of ministry were spent in Tower-Soudan.
Father Rudy will be remembered for his excellent singing voice, his love of nature (deer ate from his hand), his poetry and his book entitled, “Poems and Reflections on Life and Love,” for which he received honorable mention in the 2006 Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards. The most important focus in his life, however, was, and is Jesus Christ. Father Rudy had been active in the Cursillo Community for many years. He did not leave formal ministry until the last four months of his life. Because of his conviction that without a priest residing in a parish, the parish dies, he remained in ministry until illness forced him to retire after 60 years of service. St. Martin’s Church is active and thriving today as a result of his willingness to remain as pastor long after optional retirement age passed. It is this unrelenting focus which characterized his life as a servant of God.
Father Rudy is survived by a sister, Dorothy (Stanley) Prelesnik, of Chisholm; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Genevieve and Mary; and brothers, Victor and Tony. The Timberjay
Eternal Rest Grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him; and may his soul and all the souls of the Faithful Departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen