Fr. Tim Mazur, beloved pastor of St. John Vianney, generously shared God’s love

Fr. Tim Mazur, pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Shelby Township, blesses children during a Mass at the parish in July 2019. Fr. Mazur, who publicly battled cancer for more than two years, succumbed to the disease on April 3 at the age of 57. (Naomi Vrazo | Detroit Catholic)

After a lengthy battle with cancer, 57-year-old priest with love of liturgy, dogs and the Detroit Tigers passes to meet his Lord

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — A beloved pastor who reshaped the liturgical life of his parish and the spiritual lives of his parishioners, Fr. Tim Mazur made a profound impact on those who knew him.

A priest with a love for God and the Detroit Tigers, the pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Shelby Township courageously battled cancer before succumbing April 3. He was 57.

“He was a very spiritual man. The liturgy was very important to him; the liturgy had to be proper, it had to be true worship of God,” said Deacon Mike Houghton, who served with Fr. Mazur at St. John Vianney. “He was focused on making sure things were done well and with quality. He was a priest who did a good job in his role, and he wanted the same out of his deacon and from everyone else who served.”

Timothy Patrick Mazur was born Sept. 20, 1963, in Detroit to Patrick and Diana Mazur, one of three children.

He earned a bachelor’s in literature from Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit before attending St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth Township, graduating in 1988. He earned a master’s in divinity from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in 1995 before being ordained June 6, 1995, by Cardinal Adam J. Maida at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. 

Fr. Mazur preaches a homily in 2019 at St. John Vianney Parish in Shelby Township. A priest who loved the liturgy, Fr. Mazur made it a point to emphasize God's love. (Naomi Vrazo | Detroit Catholic)

Fr. Mazur was assigned to serve as associate pastor at St. Ephrem Parish in Sterling Heights (1995-97) and St. Martin de Porres in Warren (1997-99), concurrently serving as chaplain at nearby De Le Salle Collegiate High School.

In July 1999, Fr. Mazur received his first pastoral assignment, St. Isaac Jogues Parish in St. Clair Shores, where he served until July 2010 before being named pastor of St. John Vianney. 

Beyond an emphasis on the liturgy, Fr. Mazur also insisted upon other changes to the parish, Deacon Houghton said, such as installing kneelers, commissioning a parishioner to create a life-size crucifix, and moving the tabernacle to the center of the sanctuary. 

“He always wanted people to know, no matter their circumstances, that God loved them and loved them dearly,” Deacon Houghton said. “He talked about how the Christian faith was unique in that we have a God who pursues us. There are so many other faiths where people pursue their version of a deity. But in the Christian faith, we have a God who continually comes after us and pursues us.”

Those who worked with Fr. Mazur recall a pastor with a sharp mind, able to pull trivia facts from nowhere. But more than anything, he wanted everyone who walked in the parish’s doors to have an encounter with God. 

Fr. Mazur is pictured with his dog, Molly, at the parish offices. (Photos courtesy of St. John Vianney Parish)
A huge baseball fan, Fr. Mazur loved visiting Comerica Park and cheering on the Detroit Tigers. 

“If you only met him once or twice, he was a little on the introverted side, so you might have guessed he was shy,” said John Lajiness, pastoral associate at St. John Vianney Parish. “But once he got to know you, he had a great sense of humor, a great personality. He was a very open person about his own life, his own vulnerabilities, both to staff and parishioners, which allowed him to reach people at a different level.”

Fr. Mazur’s vulnerability was particularly exposed on Dec. 11, 2019, when he was granted a temporary medical leave of absence to undergo cancer treatment. Throughout his treatment, Fr. Mazur was transparent with the parish about his condition, inviting parishioners to walk the journey with him.

“His whole hope was, ‘If someone prays for me while I’m going through this, maybe this is their chance to reconnect with the Lord in a way they haven’t done for a while,’” Lajiness said. “People really responded to that. We started doing rosaries every Monday night.”

Fr. Mazur eventually returned just in time to guide the parish through last spring’s COVID-19 shutdowns, but his faith and gratitude to God never wavered. 

“When he was presented with cancer the first time, he went at it with great trust,” Deacon Houghton said. “He spoke to the congregation about it, saying, ‘This is where I’m going, this is what I’m doing.’ He had complete trust that God would take care of him.

“When he had his second diagnosis of cancer, he knew it was more serious. That was clear,” Deacon Houghton added. “He tried to do the best he could to keep it private, but he knew. He said, ‘No matter what happens, wherever the Lord takes us, I’m comfortable, I’m happy.’”

Fr. Mazur distributes Communion to parishioners at St. John Vianney. During his battle with cancer, the priest always remained hopeful in God’s providence and open with his parishioners. (Naomi Vrazo | Detroit Catholic)

Fr. Mazur had to leave the parish again in January 2021 for a surgery to remove his kidney, but his presence there remained strong.

The week before he died, St. John Vianney parishioners organized a one-mile walk from the parish grounds to Fr. Mazur’s residence for a prayer vigil outside his home, which Lajiness said was an uplifting experience for the priest.

“He enjoyed the opportunity to be with the people at various stages in their lives, helping them understand how to best connect with the Lord, how to take the next step,” Lajiness said. “For a guy who may have been on the introverted side, I think it’s the relationships that mattered the most to him.”

Fr. Mazur’s funeral was April 8 at St. John Vianney. 

He is predeceased by his father, Patrick Mazur. He is survived by his mother, Diana Mazur; his sisters Marge (Michael) Lassman and Jennifer (Karl) Kakaley; his nephews, Andrew and Matthew; and his nieces, Jessica and Alyssa.