While the Rev. Stephen Popovich of St. Paul the Apostle Church, 10143 Main St., remains in intensive care at St. Elizabeth Health Center, the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown says it’s premature to describe him as paralyzed from the waist down.
A news release from the diocese said Father Popovich, 58, who was injured Nov. 12 in a car accident in Poland Township while on his way to the Ohio State Penitentiary to lead a Mass, is “alert, oriented and joking.”
“He is receiving physical and occupational therapy,” the release said. “His upper extremities are functioning. Doctors are still testing as to why he has no lower extremity movement.”
The diocese said some of the information in the media about Father Popovich has come from sources who are not authorized to speak about his condition.
The Rev. John Jerek, vicar for the clergy at the diocese, said doctors haven’t indicated how long Father Popovich is expected to remain hospitalized.
“It’s really just wait and see,” he said.
The Rev. Nick Shori, former pastor at St. Paul, has taken over for Father Popovich at the church in his absence.
Father Popovich, a Youngstown native and Cardinal Mooney graduate, also has served at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Austintown, Cardinal Mooney High School, St. Lucy’s Parish in Campbell and St. James Parish in Warren.
A prayer service for Father Popovich is scheduled at 7 p.m. Sunday, which is the priest’s 59th birthday.