Fr. Kopel to speak at Memorial Day program Monday morning, May 28
On Monday, May 28, a Memorial Day program sponsored by the Ralph Leui Post 135 American Legion and the Winston Toomey Post 8530 Veterans of Foreign Wars will be held to honor those who have died in service to our country. The Avenue of Flags will be raised at 8 a.m. at the Potter County Courthouse in Gettysburg. The program will begin at 10 a.m. at the American Legion Community Building with Father Jerry Kopel as the speaker. Fr. Kopel was raised on the family farm east of Parkston, SD. After graduating from O¹Gorman high school in Sioux Falls, he attended Conception College Seminary/Northwest Missouri State University. He received his theological education at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, MN. He was ordained to priesthood on June 10, 1977 for the Diocese of Sioux Falls. He then served as Associate Pastor of Holy Family Parish in Mitchell and then at Immaculate Conception Parish in Watertown. In 1985 he was appointed to parishes in Clark and Grover, and four years later accepted sacramental responsibility for parishes in Florence and Henry, SD. In 1994 he became pastor at Tyndall and Springfield, and Catholic chaplain to the Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield. In July of 2001 he was appointed pastor at the Catholic church in Brandon where he served for six and a half years before moving to Gettysburg. In November of 2007 he was named pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Gettysburg and St. Pius X Parish in Onida. Fr. Kopel has been active in a variety of other ministries. He has served on its Marriage Tribunal from 1980-2001, the Education Advisory Committee from 1979-1982 and in 2001 he was instrumental in the development of the first computerized bookkeeping system for parishes of the Sioux Falls Diocese. In 1987 he was appointed the diocesan Director of Continuing Education of Catholic Clergy, and held the position for 20 years. He served as the Sioux Falls Diocesan Advisor to the SD Association of Christian Churches. He has been active as a prison chaplain for the SD Department of Correction for 31 years. In 1992 he was elected as the representative for Episcopal Region 8 (SD, ND, MN) to serve on the national board that oversees continuing education for Catholic priests in the United States (NOCERCC). In 1995 he was elected as NOCERCC¹s Secretary/Treasurer; a position he held for nine years. In addition to ministry, Fr. Kopel has worked in video production and was a partner in a software development company. He has been a member of Rotary International for 19 years and will serve as president for the local club during the upcoming year. For relaxation he enjoys woodworking, video production, classical music, and cooking. Michael Schlachter will serve as Master of Ceremonies and Pastor Dick Nickel will give the Invocation and Benediction. The singing preachers will perform under the direction of Gail Larson. Following the program on Monday morning, honoring the dead will be observed at the Avenue of Flags.