East Valley parishes, Serra Club lose faithful deacon

Dcn. Richard Cuprak

Born: July 9, 1938
Ordained: Nov. 4, 2000
Service in the Diocese of Phoenix:
  • St. Benedict — Nov. 2000-July 2006
  • All Saints in Mesa — July 2006-Aug. 2007
  • Resurrection in Tempe — Nov. 2007-Aug. 2012
  • Holy Spirit — Dec. 2012-Nov. 2017
Died: Nov. 12, 2017

Dcn. Richard Cuprak was a family man who spent later years serving his universal family through the Church.

He passed away Nov. 12 at the age of 79. Dcn. Cuprak was ordained 17 years ago and served his entire diaconate in the East Valley. He spent his first six years at St. Benedict Parish in Ahwatukee, had a brief stint at All Saints Parish in Mesa and then dedicated five years each to liturgical ministry at Resurrection and Holy Spirit parishes, both in Tempe.

“He loved sharing his Catholic faith, spending time with people and in that time being able to minister to them and teach RCIA,” said Chris Bierwagen, one of his grandchildren. Bierwagen happens to do maintenance at Holy Spirit where his grandfather served.

Norma, Dcn. Cuprak’s wife of 57 years, said he loved people.

“He was a talker. He would start talking with somebody and it was hard to turn him off,” she said.

Dcn. Cuprak was part of the East Valley Serra Club, which prays for, supports and affirms vocations. He joined with his wife in 2005 at the invitation of the late Dcn. Pat Flynn and his wife, Betty.

“They quickly became active members, participating in many events over the years supporting our local priests and consecrated religious,” said Chuck Wold, current Serra Club of the East Valley president. “Dick and Norma could always be depended on to help the club whether serving on a committee or spending time running an event.”

The late deacon spent two years as club president and far beyond that role, “was always ready to lead prayers and provide spiritual support to the club and its members,” Wold said.

It was a role the deacon was accustomed to. He and Norma raised seven children who gave them 19 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

“What made him a great grandfather was him being present in my life from conversing about schoolwork to our shared Catholic faith,” Bierwagen said.

The pair also enjoyed fishing, be it lakeside or on the open ocean. Dcn. Cuprak also enjoyed deep sea fishing. He kept his hands busy on land painting, creating ceramics, macaramé and knitting.

Dcn. Cuprak was born in Passaic, New Jersey, but ultimately ended up in Arizona where he attended Sunnyslope High School before studying engineering, math and educational administration at Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University. He taught mathematics at the junior high and high school levels before working his way up to principal. He once served as an assistant superintendent as well.