LYMAN — A priest who has served the Diocese of Charleston from the Lowcountry’s coast to the foothills of the Great Smokies has begun a new career in his retirement. Father Charles J. Snopek has become a priest-poet.
Father Snopek was ordained in 1986 at the age of 56. Prior to that, he was an academic, an English literature professor and dean at Adelphi University on New York’s Long Island.
Poetry is not a new artistic endeavor for him.
“I’ve been writing poetry since I was eight years old,” the retired pastor said. “Recently I’ve succumbed to a desire to publish some of them.”
With that in mind, he has set up a professional publishing apparatus in his home and now prints his work in various formats.
Father Snopek writes sonnets, Shakespearean-style poems of 14 lines with every other line rhyming and a rhyming couplet at the end. The second six lines are a prayer in reflection of the first eight.
His goal, he said, is to give glory to God.
“I’m concentrating on the sonnet because it is so structured, and because my life is so unstructured,” he said.
Eventually, he hopes to collect his writings into a book of poetry. In the meantime, his poems are available for order on his Web site, http://web.mac.com/cjsnopek, as bookmarks, booklets and Christmas cards. The poems are printed on heavy stock and enhanced with classical religious paintings. His enterprise is called CJS Catholic Poetry.
Father Snopek began serving the diocese as a seminarian at the churches of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Camden and Jesus Our Risen Savior in Spartanburg. He also worked at Bishop England High School.
As a priest, he served the churches of Blessed Sacrament in Charleston; St. John Neumann in Columbia; St. Mary in Greenville; and St. Philip the Apostle in Lake City, with missions in Johnsonville and Kingstree.
He was pastor of Precious Blood of Christ Church on Pawleys Island for 10 years before retiring for medical reasons in 2000. Once his health improved, he came out of retirement to lead Jesus Our Risen Savior for three more years.
He retired a second time, at age 76, in 2006. He was spiritual director of the state’s Cursillo for 12 years and is still active in the movement.
Father Snopek now lives with his two rescued dogs in Spartanburg County and assists local parishes with the sacraments, in addition to writing spiritual sonnets.
The following is a two-couplet example of his art, from the poem “Last Words of Christ”:
When God the Father sent his only Son
To die upon that twisted torture tree,
Our Lord replied, “My father’s will be done”
And his submission ransomed you and me.