ARCHDIOCESAN PRIEST, REV. RICHARD J. WOJCIK, DIES
Professor Emeritus in the Department of Worship at Mundelein Seminary
Survivor of Andrea Doria Sinking
CHICAGO (January 22, 2013) – Rev. Richard J. Wojcik, professor emeritus at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary, died Saturday, January 26, at the age of 89. Fr. Wojcik was a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago for 63 years, most of them as a teacher, composer, director of music and choir director. He officially retired from active ministry in 1994, but continued to teach at the seminary until recently.
Fr. Wojcik was born in Chicago on June 20, 1923. He graduated from St. Bruno School on the city’s southwest side, Quigley Preparatory Seminary and from the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary, where he earned masters and licentiate degrees in Theology. He was ordained in 1949 by Cardinal Stritch.
He served for one year following his ordination at St. Mary of Perpetual Help Parish in Chicago as the assistant pastor before beginning a teaching career that would last throughout his priestly ministry. He was a professor of Latin and music at Quigley Seminary and Director of the Cathedral Chant Choir for three years from 1950-1953. In 1953, he began advanced studies in Sacred Music at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome, where he also served as Vice Rector of the Casa Santa Maria del Lago Chicago house of studies there. In 1956, he earned a masters in Gregorian Chant (M.G.C.) degree.
It was on July 25 of that year, while returning to the United States from Rome that Fr. Wojcik, Retired Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Goedert and two other priests were among those on the famed SS Andrea Doria, an Italian ocean liner bound for New York City that collided with another ship causing the loss of 52 people on board. The four priests were among those who ministered to the passengers during rescue efforts.
In 1956, Fr. Wojcik was appointed to the faculty and made Director of Music at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary, positions he held until 1994 and 1990 respectively. Of his teaching, Fr. Tom Baima, a former student of Fr. Wojcik’s and the current vice rector for academic affairs at Mundelein Seminary said, “Fr. Wojcik was so clear in his commitment to forming seminarians to be the best priests they could be, that he could speak bluntly or critically to his students and they were accepting.” Fr. Baima also noted that Fr. Wojcik understood that we need the arts to develop our human side and so he encouraged seminarians to take advantage of the varied cultural offerings of Chicago.
For two years in the early 50s, Fr. Wojcik was a Temporary Duty United States Air Force Chaplain. In 1962, in addition to his teaching duties, he became the business manager and associate editor of Chicago Studies, a theological journal for those serving in parish ministry. His business manager duties ended in 1972, but he continued as an editor until recently. Fr. Wojcik also served on the Advisory Board of the Committee on the Liturgy and as a consultant on Ecumenical Hymnody for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Since 1971, Fr. Wojcik directed the choir at Prince of Peace Parish in Lake Villa and served as an assistant priest on weekends. Both Fr. Baima, and Prince of Peace pastor, Fr. Richard Yanos pointed out that Fr. Wojcik used his years at the parish as his “laboratory” in which he tested many styles of music that made his teaching theory practical. “He was very supportive of me as a new pastor 16 years ago, and he willingly diminished his work as choir director to allow for a comprehensive parish music program,” Fr. Yanos added.
Fr. Wojcik provided melodies for the Propers for Ash Wednesday and the Sundays in Lent, the Propers for Sundays and Principal Feasts and the Propers for the Easter Cycle published by the Gregorian Institute of America in 1966. He was one of three authors of Sacrament of Reconciliation, published by Liturgy Training Publications of the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1974. Fr. Wojcik was fluent in Italian and Polish and could read Russian.
Even after Fr. Wojcik retired he continued to teach at Mundelein. “His love of music kept him going,” says Linda Cerabona, the current Director of Music at the seminary. “As recently as 2006,” she said, “Fr. Wojcik was very instrumental in assisting in the sacred music exhibit, “They Remember The Singing,” a historical review of music and the seminary from its beginning until 1990.”
Visitation for Fr. Wojcik will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, January 31, at Kristan Funeral Home, 219 West Maple Avenue in Mundelein. Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago, will be the main celebrant at a funeral Mass for Fr. Wojcik at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, February 1, in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mundelein Seminary, 1000 East Maple Avenue in Mundelein. Fr. Robert Barron, Rector/President of Mundelein Seminary, will deliver the homily.
Interment will take place at St. Mary of the Lake Cemetery in Mundelein. Fr. Wojcik is survived by his brother, Eugene.