Fr. Robert E. Struzynski, OFM, 78, a professed Franciscan friar for 55 years and a priest for 50 years, died on Friday, (December 13, 2013) at Holy Name Friary, Ringwood, N.J., where he had resided for several days following a severe stroke.
Fr. Struzynski was born on May 1, 1935, in Dunkirk, N.Y., to Albert and Bernice Chudzinski Struzynski. He was baptized Robert Eugene on May 12, 1935, at St. Hyacinth Church in Dunkirk. He attended the parish school and graduated from Dunkirk High School in 1952.
He earned a bachelor of business administration degree from St. Bonaventure University in 1956. Upon graduating, he resigned his ROTC commission as second lieutenant, to enter St. Joseph Seminary in Callicoon in the fall of that year.
Fr. Robert E. Struzynski, OFM
He was received into the Order of Friars Minor on July 14, 1957, at St. Raphael's Friary, Lafayette, N.J., where he professed temporary vows on July 15, 1958. He pursued studies in philosophy at St. Francis College, Rye Beach, N.H. and in theology at Holy Name College, Washington, D.C., where he professed final vows on August 22, 1961. He was ordained to the priesthood on March 2, 1963, at the Franciscan Monastery Church, Mount St. Sepulchre, Washington, DC, by Bishop Philip Hannan.
Upon completing his studies in theology in 1964, he joined the theology department of St. Bonaventure University as an instructor, before going on for doctoral studies at Notre Dame University (1967-1971).
Upon completing his doctorate, he returned to St. Bonaventure University, where he continued teaching for another seven years, also being involved in campus ministry. In 1978, in a career shift, he went to Philadelphia, Pa., where he helped found the St. Francis Inn soup kitchen and shelter. Then, from 1984 to 1993, he served as a missionary in Jamaica as pastor of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Kingston. While there, he helped to build homes with materials received from "Food for the Poor" and started a "Housecraft Training Institute," a project to help the poor learn how to sew to enable them to work in a factory or at home to earn a living. He returned to the U.S. in 1993, and was assigned for the next twelve years at St. Patrick Friary in Buffalo, N.Y., where he ministered in the Cephas program, an ecumenical organization that serves men and women in prison and on parole. In 2005, he became a member of the fraternity at Mount Irenaeus, the Franciscan Retreat in West Clarksville. In 2012, he took a six-month sabbatical at Christ the King Seminary, East Aurora, N.Y. On June 5, 2013, he retired from full-time ministry at St. Anthony Friary, Butler, N.J., where he suffered a severe stroke earlier this month; he went on hospice care at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood on December 10.
Fr. Struzynski is survived by his sister-in-law, Maryann Struzynski; and nephews, Patrick of South Wales, N.Y., and Norman of Forestville, N.Y., as well as several cousins.
A Wake was held Monday at St. Anthony Church in Butler, N.J. There will be a viewing from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. today at the St. Bonaventure University Chapel, with a Vigil Service at 5:00 p.m. There will be a viewing from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., prior to an 11:00 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday, (December 21, 2013) at St. Bonaventure University Chapel. Vicar Provincial Fr. Dominic V. Monti, OFM, will be the principal celebrant and Fr. Daniel Riley, OFM, will preach the homily. Burial will follow at St. Bonaventure Cemetery, Allegany, N.Y.
Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Maryann Struzynski, 103 Trinity Park Lane, East Aurora NY 14052-9477. Local arrangements are under the direction of the Casey, Halwig & Hartle Funeral Home, Olean.