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Our Shepherd and Friend – Eternal Memory

Very Rev. Gary Mensinger

Very Rev. Gary J. Mensinger served the parishes of St. Michael, Pittston & St. Nicholas, Swoyersville from 2013 to 2019.  He passed into eternal rest on the Feast Day of St. Nicholas of Myra, December 6th, 2019.


The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy for the Priest
Servant of God and our Pastor
Very Rev. Father + Gary J. Mensinger
Was held on Thursday, December 12, 2019
St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church
Freeland, Pennsylvania

(Video below)



See also:  First Responder Tribute

Memories and Lessons
A Sharing of Gratitude
Called to Serve
Faith on Fire


The Very Rev. Gary J. Mensinger, pastor of St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church, Pittston, and St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church, Swoyersville, was called by his Savior on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, the Feast of our holy father St. Nicholas of Myra.

Born April 9, 1969, he was the son of Helen and the late Robert D. Mensinger, Freeland.2019-12-11 077 - 2 Little Gary (660x1024)

His early education was received at St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic School. He attended Freeland High School and played football for the Whippets under Coach Adam Sieminski. He was a graduate of Luzerne County Community College and Wilkes University.

In pursuit of his priestly calling, he entered Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Pittsburgh. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 7, 1998, at St. Michael’s B.C. Church, McAdoo.

Prior to his current parishes of St. Michael, Pittston, and St. Nicholas, Swoyersville, his assignments included Ss. Peter and Paul Church, Somerset, N.J.; St. Mary’s Church, Trenton, N.J.; St. Mary’s Church, Mahanoy City; St. Nicholas, Old Forge; and St. Mary’s, Taylor.

He also served as Syncellate of the Susquehanna Syncellate for the Eparchy of Passaic and was an instrumental member of both the Eparchial and the Inter-Eparchial Youth and Young AdultCommissions and appointed as consultor for the Eparchy of Passaic.

Preceding him in death were his father, Robert D. Mensinger; his dear aunt, Agnes Mensinger; and his older brother, Robert D. “Chico” Mensinger.

Surviving, in addition to his mother, Helen, Freeland; are his sister, Janet Drumn and her husband, Michael, Freeland; brother, John A. Mensinger and his wife, Karen, Drums; sister-in-law, Diane Mensinger, Drums; loving nieces and nephews, Robert D. Mensinger III and husband, Tim; Meredith McGrath and husband, Cullin; Jason Mensinger and wife, Katie; Dean Drumn and wife, Holly; Michelle Rabold and husband, Tyler; Nadine Drumn and fiancé, Bryon Cahalan; John Fellin; Jessica Dolan and husband, Damien; Jacob Mensinger; and Haleigh Mensinger; along with several great-nieces and great-nephews.

Young Father Gary was an altar server at St. Mary’s, Freeland, and as an adult held a seat fr gary 7on the Freeland Borough Council, was a corpsman for the Freeland ambulance and a firefighter and Chaplain for the Freeland Fire Department.  Father Gary was a natural in the role of Santa Claus in the Department’s annual Christmas fundraiser.  Always community-minded, he went on to serve as a volunteer firefighter in the fire departments in the towns of several of his past parishes, including Mahanoy City and Old Forge, and was a member of the St. Jude Council 6440 Knights of Columbus, Mountain Top.

Being a lover of animals, Father Gary was a voting member on the Board of Directors of Tracey’s Hope Hospice Care Program and Rescue for Domestic Animals, where he also served as spiritual advisor. It was in his affiliation with Tracey’s Hope that the Father found lifelong friends of uncommon devotion in the organization’s CEO, Denise Kumor and her family, as well as the privileged opportunity to rescue Rosie, a displaced beagle whose companionship would enrich Father Gary’s life immeasurably every day until her untimely passing in October of this year.

Father Gary was a sports enthusiast who was seen at many local scholastic football and basketball games. He especially loved football and was a passionate fan of the Philadelphia Eagles his entire life. A well-known local personality, he made many appearances on television and was a regular guest of the “Faith on Fire” radio show.

Although he knew thousands of people, Father Gary shared no more special bond than the one he had with his beloved mother, Helen.  Pillars of support for one another, the two were always together, and the caring and devoted son credited his dear mom as his motivation for pursuing the priesthood.  Helen and Gary shared joy and time with one another as much as a common faith shared their souls.  He was an unceasing source of humor, happiness, and inspiration in her life.  Helen’s time spent in the pews of her son’s churches with her spirit moved by his preaching won’t ever be forgotten.

“Uncle Gary” will be especially missed by his niece, Haleigh, with whom he shared many common pursuits and took many day trips.  Together, they spent countless hours making memories and sharing treasured moments on excursions to Lake Tobias, Kalahari Resort and the Adventure Aquarium to name a few.  Father Gary often referred to Haleigh as “The Light of His Life.”

The Very Rev. Gary was a joyous and generous person whose desire to laugh was surpassed only by his desire to bring joy and laughter to everyone he encountered.  His jovial, outgoing nature and his active role in the lives of so many defy summary and his ministry lives on in the hearts and memories of the many people whose lives were touched by his ever-positive energy.  His continued generosity will ultimatelyPaschal Liturgy at St Nicholas Swoyersville be realized through gifts of organ donation; his kidneys, liver and corneas offering health anew to those in need.

Thank you and good night, our dear Father Gary; anointed and exemplary minister, son, brother, uncle and hero.  All we who knew you will miss you sorely.  Go deservingly with God and await our jubilant reunion in Heaven. You’ll be loved and remembered always.

Visitation was held from 4 until 6 p.m. Wednesday in St. Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church, 205 N. Main St., Pittston, with Office of Christian Burial for a Priest following at 6 p.m.

A second visitation took place from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Thursday in St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church, 643 Fern St., Freeland, with Divine Liturgy immediately following at 10:30 a.m.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church, Pittston, St. Nicholas’ Byzantine Catholic Church, Swoyersville, St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church, Freeland, and Tracey’s Hope Hospice Care Program and Rescue for Domestic Animals Inc.    McHugh-Wilczek Funeral Home, 249 Centre St., Freeland, is in charge of the arrangements.


Servant of God, Very Rev Father + Gary J. Mensinger
Wednesday, December 11, 2019


Divine Liturgy at St. Mary’s Freeland  Thursday, December 12, 2019  – Click Here – Includes closeup view of Eulogies
Courtesy of Vince Fayock, St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church, Hazleton, Pennsylvania