Mark C. Kulyk (1956-2016) was a Renaissance man: a person with many talents and areas of knowledge. He knew a little about a lot of things and continued learning every day. Yet, the constant in his heart was his love for his wife and his family...and a love of music, especially the music that was woven into his Catholic faith and his love for God.
Mark began his relationship with music in elementary school learning to play the trumpet. He sang in the choir of his small rural Pennsylvania parish. Then when he entered the University of Notre Dame, he learned more to become the sacristan and music leader of the chapel in his dorm. Their Sunday mass was at 11:30 p.m., known on campus as the "last chance Mass."
After graduate studies, marriage and young children, he settled his family in Fairview, Pennsylvania (near Erie). They joined Holy Cross Parish and Mark immediately involved himself in pastoral music. Early on, he was a part of the "folk group." Music selections were made just prior to Mass, often based on which songs the guitarist knew.
Then the parish was blessed with a priest who encouraged learning "good" liturgy — and modeled it. This support, combined with a few talented, committed musicians, led to true formation in the music ministry. Mark eventually became one of three unpaid directors who built an effective, vibrant and enduring music program at Holy Cross.
Because of Mark's love of liturgical music and exceptional leadership skills, he became an endearing member of the Holy Cross choir for more than 25 years. In July of 2015, Mark was diagnosed with a serious brain tumor. In late November of 2016, he passed. Mark's love was strong, his faith was solid and he was not afraid. He often said, "I make the plans, but God writes the script."
In addition to all that he accomplished serving his church, he generously shared his time and talents beyond liturgy. Among his lifelong accomplishments:
- Earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Notre Dame, and a master's from the University of Chicago.
- Worked 27 years in the family manufacturing business, from marketing to running the factory to sales manager to president of the company.
- Served on the board and leadership of national manufacturing trade association.
- Played trumpet from 6th grade through the high school marching band, to the University of Notre Dame Marching Band and the ND Alumni Band, to brass ensembles for Easter and Christmas liturgies at Holy Cross.
- Served Worldwide Marriage Encounter for 25 years with his wife Joyce, from enrichment weekends to regional leaders to the North American leaders council.
Mark's story is extraordinary — and yet it reflects the journey and calling that so many of us can relate to. It chronicles the role of music and faith in shaping one life in order to shape the lives of the many.
In answering the call, Mark was a true witness of faithfulness, fidelity and commitment to serving God and one another. While Mark died far sooner than anyone ever expected, The Mark C. Kulyk Fund for Music Ministry will ensure his legacy as a dedicated servant of God will play on.
I have chosen to name this major fund in honor of Mark, to be a witness of God's steadfast love for our NPM membership. This fund will support special NPM projects to better serve our membership and, in turn, our mission.
NPM President & CEO