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Former Mundelein seminary priest who survived sinking of Andrea Doria dies

Reverend Richard Wojcik. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

Reverend Richard Wojcik. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 1, 2013 2:06AM

MUNDELEIN — Francis Cardinal George will lead services Friday for the Rev. Richard J. Wojcik, who died last weekend at the age of 89. Rev. Wojcik, who was a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago for 63 years, also was a survivor of the sinking of the Andrea Doria Italian oceanliner in 1956.

Rev. Wojcik died Jan. 26, according to the archdiocese. Most of his 63 years as a priest were spent as a teacher, composer, director of music and choir director.

He officially retired from active ministry in 1994, but was professor emeritus at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, where he continued to teach until recently.

He was born in Chicago on June 20, 1923 and grew up on the city’s Southwest Side. He was ordained in 1949 by Cardinal Stritch, and was fluent in Italian and Polish, and could read Russian.

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 master’s degree in Gregorian Chant. It was on July 25 of that year, while returning to the United States from Rome that Rev. Wojcik, Retired Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Goedert and two other priests, were among those on the SS Andrea Doria, an Italian oceanliner bound for New York City that collided with another ship, causing the loss of 52 people onboard. The four priests were among those who ministered to the passengers during rescue efforts.

In 1956, he 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.

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.

Even after Rev. Wojcik retired he continued to teach at Mundelein. “His love of music kept him going,” Linda Cerabona, the current director of music at the seminary, said.

As recently as 2006,” she said, “Father 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 Rev. Wojcik will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. today at Kristan Funeral Home, 219 W. Maple Ave., Mundelein. Cardinal George will be the main celebrant at a funeral Mass for Father Wojcik at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 1, in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mundelein Seminary, 1000 E. Maple Ave. The Rev. Robert Barron, rector/president of the seminary, will deliver the homily.

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