DUNMORE — Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant of a concelebrated Pontifical Mass of Christian Burial for Father Kenneth G. Kizis on July 1 at Saint Mary of Mount Carmel Church in Dunmore.
Father Kizis, who was pastor emeritus of the former Saint Michael the Archangel Parish in Olyphant, died June 28 at Allied Services Meade Street Skilled Nursing, Wilkes-Barre, at the age of 89.
Born in Pittston on May 19, 1933, son of the late George and Ann Machonis Kizis, Father Kizis received his early education at Saint Mary of the Assumption School, Pittston, and graduated from nearby Saint John High School.
Father Kizis attended Christ the King Seminary at Saint Bonaventure, N.Y., where he completed his preparatory studies for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Scranton on May 23, 1959, in the Cathedral of Saint Peter by the late Most Rev. Jerome D. Hannan, fifth Bishop of Scranton.
Following ordination, Father Kizis served as assistant pastor at the parishes of Saints Peter and Paul, Hazleton; Saint Joseph, Scranton; Saints Peter and Paul, Towanda; and Immaculate Conception, Scranton.
He received his first pastoral assignment on Sept. 2, 1980, at All Saints Parish in Dunmore, and was subsequently appointed pastor of Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, Moscow, in 1985.
On June 20, 1991, Father Kizis assumed the pastorate of Saint Michael the Archangel Parish, Olyphant, where he remained until retirement from active ministry and his appointment as pastor emeritus of Saint Michael’s on April 23, 2003.
In addition to his parochial duties, Father Kizis was the chaplain at Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Carbondale, and also served as diocesan director of Catholic Charities in Carbondale and moderator of the Carbondale Chapter of the Nurses Guild.
Father Kizis would serve as both vice president and principal of Dunmore Central Catholic High School, which later became Bishop O’Hara High School, and as chaplain for the Marywood Novitiate in Dunmore.
As homilist for the Mass of Christian Burial for his priest friend, Father Phil Sladicka began by noting the mortal remains of Father Kizis, placed before the altar, were central to the funeral celebration.
“As we celebrate this funeral liturgy, we remember with gratitude the life of Father Ken Kizis,” Father Sladicka remarked. “We thank God for the gifts of a priest who is also a loving son, brother, relative and friend to all of us who are here today.”
He continued, “I remember with gratitude our friendship. Retreats, monthly visits, conversations, and times we celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” fondly recalling Father Kizis’ 60th anniversary of ordination three years before. “I thank God for (his) 89 years of life — a gift from God. I thank God today for (his) 63 years of priesthood, lived in fidelity to God’s people.”
The homilist later referred to the Gospel selected for the funeral Mass and Jesus’ words: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (John 12:24)
“Father Kizis had a gospel vision of humility, love and service that helped him to live day by day, walking in the footsteps of Jesus, allowing the grain of wheat to fall to the ground and die,” Father Sladicka offered. “It helped him to stay on track and to move forward with an intentional attitude in his vocation.”
“My final thought is that Father Ken Kizis, present at the altar today, preaches a homily stronger than I could preach. With great devotion we bid (him) farewell,” Father Sladicka said in conclusion. “We ask the Good Shepherd in the words of Psalm 23 to lead Father Ken into green pastures and beside still waters, that with His rod and staff He will lead Father Ken over the waters of death and into the brightness of eternal life.”
He was also preceded in death by two brothers, Joseph Kizis, and his wife, Elaine; and Leonard Kizis, and his wife, Agnes.
Interment was held at Saint Michael’s Byzantine Cemetery, Dunmore.