Obituary: Father Richard Skarbek

Father Richard Skarbek, whose ordination in Rome by Pope John II in 1986 at age 54 followed several decades as director of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Ridgemen drum and bugle corps in Sunset Park, died on June 22 at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, L.I. He was 83.

Father Skarbek
Father Skarbek

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated June 27 at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Sunset Park.

Born in Bay Ridge, he attended Our Lady of Angels School and St. Francis Prep, Northside. He then was hired as a teller by Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company. He rose to the position of a vice president at the bank when he left in 1980 to join the Society of the Missionaries of the Holy Apostles.

In the late 1940s, he joined the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cadet Corps and soon was promoted to a leadership position in the corps. In 1955, he decided to leave the Cadet Corps and became the director of  the OLPH junior drum and bugle corps. He served in that unsalaried position until 1977 when OLPH parish could no longer support the operation of the corps.

After losing parish sponsorship, the Ridgemen competed for a few years as an independent entity before disbanding.

“He watched over our young lives and through his example he made us better people,” said Bobby Steinhilber, a former Ridgemen and now an official with the OLPH Alumni Association.

He later attended St. Francis College, Brooklyn, and Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Conn.

He continued his studies in Rome and on May 25, 1986, he was ordained by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica.

In September, 1986, Father Skarbek was assigned to Holy Apostles Seminary in Connecticut where he was a teacher, spiritual advisor, finance director and fundraiser.

For the past five years, he resided at Our Lady of  Consolation Nursing Home in West Islip.

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