Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 9, 2024

Dear Friends,

I am deeply saddened as I tell you of the passing of Fr. Laurence (Larry) M. Olszewski, C.S.C., on Monday, June 3, 2024 around 8.45 p.m. at Holmes Regional Hospital. He fell 7 days ago, which caused a brain bleed and a possible stroke. The bleeding required surgery, after which he was placed in hospicecare. All this in less than aweek’s time.

We have lost a dedicated shepherd who served God in the priesthood for almost 60 years. His beloved family members, the Retirement Community in Cocoa Beach, the Congregation of Holy Cross, and St. John the Evangelist Parish Community, have lost a wonderful man of God.

Here are the details ofhis life.

Father Laurence (Larry)Olszewski, C.S.C., was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, to Mary (nee Maciag) and Joseph, emigres from Poland to the United States. Hewasoneof five children.

Fr. Larry attended Catholic grade and high school in Rhode Island and Stonehill College in Massachusetts. He entered the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1957, made his First Vows on 16 August 1958, and was ordained on 19 December 1964. He received a bachelor’s degree in Sacred Theology from the University of Montreal (Fr. Lou Manzo tells me that he and Fr. Larry were two of the seven Americans sent to Montreal for their Theological studies). He received a Masterof Theology degree from Harvard.

Fr. Larry spoke both Spanish and French, and he served as a missionary in Peru for seven years. In 1978, he joined Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to minister to the people in Senegal and Tanzania, Africa. While with CRS, he served as director of a project in Burundi to assist local farmers develop an alternate source of energy. After returning to CRS headquarters in New York, he became the liaison with all United States Catholic dioceses, approximately 170 at the time, for the Operation Rice Bowl and Bishop’s Annual Overseas Appeal programs.

For those who do not know him, Fr. Larry was our founding pastor. After obtaining the necessary ecclesiastical authorization in 2001, he and Fr. Robert(Bob) Wiseman, C.S.C., came to Viera tocreate a parish literally from scratch.

Fr. Larry was a man of class, a great visionary, a committed pastor, an avid reader, an adventurer and risk taker, a delightful religious, and a strict disciplinarian. He needed all of these qualities as he and Fr. Bob undertook this new mission in Viera.

He overcome all obstacles, and succeeded in doing all that was needed to create a vibrant parish: the monumental task of inviting people to join this “New Parish” that had no proper worship space; recruiting staff and forming committees; building a Faith Formation program; acquiring land; beginning a capital campaign to build our massive Parish Life Center and overseeing its construction. It was indeed a LABOR of LOVE. The Parish Life Center was inaugurated on 6 May 2007. It provided space for our faith formation and community events, and it served also as our worship space until our church was dedicated in January 2018.

Fr. Larry handed over the reins of the parish to his successor, Fr. Bradley Beaupré, C.S.C., in 2008. He retired to our Holy Cross Retirement Communityin Cocoa Beach, from where he actively assisted at Divine Mercy Parish in Merritt Island until this past week.

He was very proud of watching our parish grow from where he left it in 2007 to what it is now, a huge magnet drawing people to God. He lovedcoming to St. John’s to help whenever we needed him.

The Congregation of Holy Cross is deeply indebted to you, dear parishioners, for what you offered Fr. Larry and indeed all our priests who have served here at St. John’s. You entrusted us with the venture of building this parish from the ground up; you have walked with us and so generouslysupported all the developments; andwith loveand care, you continue to provide forus.

Fr. Larry deserves a fitting farewell. Please come and give thanks to God and celebrate the life and legacy of our Founding Pastor. Your presence at this celebration, andyour prayers for him and us aswell, are deeply appreciated.

Please note that, because of the significance of Fr. Larry’s funeral Mass, we will not have our regular 8 a.m. Mass on Monday (June 10, 2024). Please see the funeraldetails are on page 3.

Father Larry will beburied at a later dateat the Holy Cross Cemeteryon thecampusof Stonehill College, Easton, MA.

Eternal rest grant unto Fr. Larry, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

With Love,

Fr. John