Msgr. Francis S. Midura was not afraid to come down from the pulpit.
While Midura was known for his service inside St. Thomas More Parish in Hauppauge, where he was pastor for nine years, he also did work outside the church walls -- from serving as a military chaplain to getting his hands dirty in the church yard and garden.
"He wasn't just a priest and a pastor that was lofty and up in an office somewhere. . . . Monsignor was a very hands-on pastor," said Joe Gast, 40, the youth minister at St. Thomas More Parish. "A priest in their 60s with a chain saw is really a sight to behold."
Midura died Monday of a heart attack. He was 67.
After being ordained in 1970, Midura spent his life as a minister on Long Island.
He was born in Locust Valley, the child of Polish parents, said family friend Maureen Allen.
He "felt a calling" to his religion starting in grammar school, and graduated from Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, Allen said.
In 1980, Midura joined the Army as a chaplain.
"He's done their weddings and funerals, and he was always on call to any service person that was hurt or killed," Allen said.
In Hauppauge, Midura was known as a dedicated, passionate pastor "who was involved in everything," said Paul Borowski, 52, a parishioner.
Borowski cited Midura's work with the parish's children and also with Borowski's 89-year-old father, who is also of Polish descent.
"They would talk in Polish together," Borowski said.
Midura was also a fourth degree member of the Knights of Columbus.
His job at St. Thomas More extended beyond its parishioners to mowing the lawn and even chopping down trees.
"There are thumbprints of him on all four corners of our property," Gast said. "We can just look around and see what he touched."
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Thomas More Parish at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Burial will be private.