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May 13, 2012 11:04 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Father Stanley Kondeja Of Our Lady Of Poland Church Dies At 74

May 16, 2012 9:56 AM

Gentle, quiet, a good listener and a great conversationalist with a thick Polish accent, the Reverend Father Stanley Kondeja, who adamantly pushed for the renovation of Our Lady of Poland Catholic Church, died at his home, the church rectory, on Saturday, May 12. He was 74.

Assigned to the church in 1988, Father Kondeja served his parish with a quiet but purposeful resolve. On Christmas Eve 2008, after six months of extensive renovations on the church, it reopened its doors to parishioners.

“He walked down the aisle at midnight Mass with a big smile on his face, and everybody applauded,” said Our Lady of the Hamptons Regional Catholic School Principal Sister Kathy Schlueter. “He knew it was not for him, that it was about God and the church. But everyone knew it was such a wonderful moment for him.”

Under Father Kondeja’s urging in 2007, the church raised enough money to fund the $1 million renovation.

“He saw a church that was in serious disarray and in need of serious construction,” said Southampton Youth Services Board President Mark Antilety, who worked with him on the project. “He shepherded that construction project to the beautiful church we have now. The finished project is his lasting legacy.”

From June to December 2008, the church underwent a major change: its roof was replaced with cedar-shake, walls in the center portion of the church were replaced with steel structural elements, the floor, pews and stained glass windows were refurbished, and a brand-new altar designed specifically for the church was installed.

Father Kondeja told The Southampton Press in 2009 that the culmination of the campaign to renovate the church gave him a sense of great accomplishment. “It means that people love that place,” he said.

Father Kondeja was also the sponsoring pastor for Our Lady of the Hamptons School for about 20 years.

“He was a very good friend to our school. He was very good with the kids and spoke to them on their level,” Ms. Schlueter said, adding that one annual highlight was how much pride Father Kondeja displayed each year during a “Blessing of the Animals” tradition that coincides with the Feast of St. Francis each October. “He blessed every dog, every gerbil,” she remembered. “He went out of his way to make everyone feel important. He was a St. Francis-type person.”

Deacon Jim Ashe, who served alongside Father Kondeja for several years, said that Father Kondeja was a “constant presence” to him, especially on the weekends when the two men went to weddings, funerals and baptisms.

“We had a good time chatting and drinking coffee,” the deacon added. “He loved to talk about world events and was a very generous and loving person.”

Father Kondeja was born on April 9, 1938, in Podlez, Poland, to Jan Kondeja and Aleksandra Krupa Kondeja. He was ordained on June 16, 1962, in Poland and emigrated to the United States to continue his priesthood on October 22, 1979. He served at the St. Ladislaus Polish Church in Hempstead for 10 years before being assigned to Our Lady of Poland Church.

He is survived by a brother, Jozef Kondeja, and his wife, Janina Kondeja of Poland.

Visitation took place on Monday and Tuesday, May 14 and 15, at the O’Connell Funeral Home in Southampton. The Mass of Transferal was held on Tuesday at Our Lady of Poland Catholic Church and a funeral Mass took place on Wednesday, May 16, at Our Lady of Poland. Interment followed at the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Cemetery.

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R.I.P Father Stanley. A kind and giving man, now out of his suffering and at peace in heaven.
By powerwalker (52), Southampton on May 13, 12 12:40 PM
By coxie1 (37), southampton on May 13, 12 3:18 PM
Yet another sad day in our community. Msgr. Trench and now Fr. Stanley. Two amazing people who bought this community much joy, love, kindness and understanding. R.I.P. Fr. Stanley.
By Proud of our volunteers (5), Southampton on May 14, 12 11:18 PM