Obituaries, Week of October 31, 2020

Deacon Edward Albert Smolinski, a retired deacon who served at the parish of Our Lady of Mercy, Forest Hills, died on Oct. 24. He was 92. 

Deacon Edward Albert Smolinski

Born on Jan. 6, 1928, he was an accountant, a lawyer, a business executive, and the comptroller for Grow Chemical Company. He authored several books on corporate law and finance.

Deacon Smolinski was part of the first class of the newly restored order of permanent deacons in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens. He was ordained on Dec. 3, 1977, at age 50, and spent his entire ministry in his home parish. During these 43 years, he baptized hundreds of children, including all five of his grandchildren, and officiated the wedding vows for his youngest daughter, Donna. 

“Ed had been a no-nonsense businessman and lawyer and he carried that business and financial acumen into his ministry. For years he functioned as the notary public of the parish and he diligently served as a member of the Parish Finance Board, Parish Council, and as a parish trustee. He and his late wife, Joan, also raised four children, one of whom predeceased him. “Ed took great delight and pride in his grandchildren,” said Msgr. John A. McGuirl, pastor emeritus of Our Lady of Mercy.

“I was raised in this parish and after my ordination in 1972, I never dreamed that I would return here. Yet when I was assigned here by Bishop DiMarzio in 2007, one of the first people I met was Deacon Ed, who remembered me as a child who played in a neighboring yard,” he recalled. 

“His presence here will be greatly missed and my prayer is that he has a safe and happy repose with his wife and son and that if he is already in the ranks of the saints that he remembers those who walked the journey of faith with him at Our Lady of Mercy,” said Msgr. McGuirl.

His funeral Mass was held on Oct. 27 at Our Lady of Mercy. The celebrant and homilist was Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sánchez, with Father Frank Schwarz, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, and Msgr. John McGuirl as concelebrants. His burial was at St. John Cemetery. 

Sister Pearl McGivney, S.L., a former Loretto President, who worked for more than half a century with farmworkers in Florida and California, where she assisted civil rights leader César Chávez, died Oct. 11 at Loretto Motherhouse Infirmary. She was 78.

Sister Pearl McGivney, S.L.

Sister Pearl was born Jan. 8, 1942, in Brooklyn, N.Y. After entering the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, she made her first vows Aug. 29, 1962, and her final vows Aug. 29, 1965. Upon transferring to Loretto in 1980, she made her definitive commitment on Aug. 12, 1982. She earned a bachelor’s in education in 1959 from St. Joseph’s College in Brentwood and a master’s in theology in 1970 from Manhattan College in New York.

As a Sister of St. Joseph, Sister Pearl taught elementary and high school students for eight years. She said viewing the documentary film “Harvest of Shame” in 1971 changed her life. Sister Pearl went to La Paz, Calif., at the invitation of the director of organizing for the United Farm Workers (UFW) and joined the UFW staff in 1972. She and Loretto co-member Mary Jean Friel were among those who worked closely with César Chávez. 

In 1978, Sister Pearl began to help organize the farmworkers in Florida. She worked in Winter Haven, Fla., where she was part of the Farm Worker Ministry from 1981 to 1983 and with the Haitian Farm Worker Ministry in 1983. From 1984 to 1987, she served as an organizer with the Centro Campesino in Winter Haven. From 1987 through 2012 Sister Pearl was co-director of the Farm Worker Ministry Inc. in Auburndale, Fla., with Sister Alicia Zapata, R.S.M. They helped the workers to organize for better wages and living conditions and assisted them and their families with immigration visas. 

In 2006 and again in 2009, she was elected to Loretto’s Executive Committee and Community Forum, serving in this capacity through 2012, when she was elected to serve as Loretto’s president through 2018. 

Sister Pearl was buried in Our Lady of Sorrows Cemetery on the grounds of Loretto Motherhouse.