Home » Our Shepherd and Friend – Eternal Memory » A First Responder Tribute

A First Responder Tribute

In honor of all those who volunteer and serve our communities as first responders, we offer this tribute to our former pastor who reposes in the Lord,
Very Rev. Gary J. Mensinger (April 9, 1969 – December 6, 2019),

Father Gary answered the call at a very young age to follow his family tradition of firefighter service.  His love for helping those in need in his community was his special charism, truly a gift from God.  As he would tell his parishioners, he always hung around fire stations from an early age.  Later, he became a corpsman for the Freeland ambulance, and a firefighter and Chaplain for the Freeland Fire Department.  But even with the demanding responsibilities he juggled in the parishes he served as pastor, Father Gary always reserved time for the personal needs of his hometown fellow first responders and frequently in the towns of the parishes he served.   He also came to the aid of those affected in the emergencies his fellow first responders were called to.  As a Chaplain, he counseled and watched out for those enveloped in tragedies and losses of all kinds.

His driving force was visible and palpable when he dramatically talked about one thing that mattered a lot to him: the importance of compassion.  Not limiting the meaning to displaying concern for those suffering misfortunes in life, Father Gary unraveled the word to reveal what it meant to him personally.  In his bold dynamic style, he’d light up in spirit and pump his fist in the air proclaiming “Compassion means ‘with passion’! It’s all about being passionate folks !”  He’d pound the point home that we are to approach everything we do with full blown zeal, no holding back.   And intertwined he might even add “the time to do it is Now !”.

Many often think that being called to the priesthood means no longer being able to use the gifts or talents that God has given.  Rather, Father Gary proves instead that God uses the gifts he grants and multiplies them full fold in unexpected and surprising ways and in people who don’t always match our preconceived notions.    No one would dispute that Father Gary was passionate in everything he did.   But more than simply remember him in tribute to all who serve as first responders, we are called to be courageous in our own circle of influence.   Father Gary would want each of us to be unafraid to live with the same passion to care, to heal, and to make a difference using whatever gifts God gives us in whatever places God calls us to serve.

Remember, Lord, your priest servant Rev. Father +Gary Mensinger,
and commit his soul to the place of light
where all the saints and the just repose!

Memories and Lessons:  What Fr. Gary Taught Us
A retrospective essay from a parish point of view

Fr Gary 04-2018(640x359)

Tribute to Fr. Gary Gift of Life Donor by WBRE/WYOU Television Video report
Local News Station Video Report broadcast on Feb. 20, 2020.
If the video does not appear under the title “The Final Blessing”, please copy and paste
the link to open in a different b

ECL Newspaper Logo

The monthly newspaper of the Eparchy of Passaic published additional photos
See pages 8-9 of  the January 2020 edition of The Eastern Catholic Life.

Faith on Fire :   We regret the Tribute video is no longer made available for viewing.

Link to Remembrance Article published May 2020 in Local Newspaper insert, The Pittston Progress:  “Not Holy, Just Normal”

St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church, Freeland, Pennsylvania      

Courtesy of Vince Fayock, St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church, Hazleton, Pennsylvania

Also Courtesy of Will Geiger, St. Mary Pokrova Byzantine Catholic Church, Kingston, Pennsylvania:  Funeral Liturgy, St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church, Freeland, Pennsylvania

Photo Mosaic below:  St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church, Freeland, Pennsylvania
Funeral Divine Liturgy -Thursday, December 12, 2019

Click on any image below to open photos in Slide View.  

Photos below:
Office of Christian Burial for a Priest
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
St. Michael the Archangel Byzantine Catholic Church
Pittston, Pennsylvania
2019-12-11 057 edit (1280x546)
2019-12-11 037 PS edit (1280x773)
2019-12-11 088 (3) Brothers Salute jpeg (1280x969)
Ladder Truck Honor Guard on Cron & William Streets, Pittston, Pennsylvania.   Wednesday, December 11, 2019
2019-12-11 034 (2) (1280x1227)

In respect to both Fr. Gary’s immediate family and to those Fr. Gary considered “extended family” in all of the parishes, organizations, and community groups he crossed paths with, we ask for your understanding.  Photos and videos on this site related to the funeral services are only those appropriate to be made public or with permission.