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Served Twice as Pastor of St. Helena of the Cross Parish

Chicago, IL  (February 15, 2011) Fr. Thomas J. Kaminski, pastor emeritus of St. Helena of the Cross Parish on Chicago’s south side, died Saturday, February 12. He was 70 years old and was in residence at St. Joseph Parish in Homewood at the time of his death.

Fr. Kaminski was a native Chicagoan and a graduate of St. Wenceslaus School, Quigley Preparatory Seminary and the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary.  He was ordained by then Archbishop John Cody in April 1966.

In that year, he began his parish ministry as assistant pastor of St. Charles Lawanga Parish and served there for eight years before briefly serving as assistant pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish on South Keeler. Both of these parishes are now closed.  From 1974-77 he was the assistant pastor at St. Joachim Parish on the south side.

Fr. Kaminski was named pastor of another south side parish, St. Helena of the Cross, in 1977 and served in that capacity for 11 years.  He would return to St. Helena again in 1997, first as Administrator and then as pastor a second time. 

For five years beginning in 1988, he was the pastor at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish that later closed.  In 1994, he became the associate pastor at St. John Fisher Parish on the southwest side, and served there until 1997, when he returned to St. Helena of the Cross.

Under Fr. Kaminski’s leadership, St. Helena sent more people from the parish through the lay ministry formation programs offered by the Archdiocese than any other parish, according to Clayton Kort, a deacon and business manager at St. Helena.  “He was about empowering people to do what needed to be done,” Kort said, adding that Fr. Kaminski also introduced the Christ Renews His Parish program, a spiritual renewal program involving the whole parish, which he described as “a pivotal point for parish vitality.” 

In 2010, after 12 years as pastor, Fr. Kaminski retired from active ministry and was named pastor emeritus of St. Helena of the Cross.

Visitation for Fr. Kaminski will take place from 3 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 17, at Donnellan Funeral Home, 10525 South Western Avenue in Chicago, and on Friday, February 18, from 10 to 11 a.m., at St. Joseph Church, 17951 Dixie Highway in Homewood.  Most Rev. Joseph Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, will be the main celebrant at a funeral Mass for Fr. Kaminski at 11 a.m. on Friday, February 18, at St. Joseph Church.

Interment will be at Maryhill Cemetery in Niles.  Fr. Kaminski is survived by his sister, Mary Kaminski, and several cousins.

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