Chojnacki, Gerald J.Died
Jesuit Father Gerald J. Chojnacki, rector of the Xavier Jesuit Community in Manhattan, N.Y., and provincial of the New York Province from 2002 to 2008, died suddenly on Nov. 6, 2012, the eve of his 69th birthday, at Beth Israel Hospital, New York, N.Y.
Fr. Chojnacki was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Nov. 7, 1943, of Joseph and Frances (Beilen) Chojnacki. After graduating from Brooklyn Prep in 1961 and his acceptance into the Society of Jesus, Jeff, as he was called, proceeded north to St. Andrew-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., entering the Jesuit novitiate there on Aug. 14, 1961. Following novitiate and juniorate studies he went south to Bogota, Colombia (1965-67), to improve his Spanish and to study philosophy at the Facultades Eclesiasticas, Universidad Javerianao, receiving the Bacillerato en Filosofia y Letras. For his regency, he taught Spanish I, II, and III and Religion I at St. Peter’s Prep (1967-69) followed by further studies in Spanish at the University of Vermont (1969-70).
In preparation for his ordination on May 26, 1973, he studied theology at Woodstock College (1970-74), gaining the M.Div. in 1975. From 1974 to 1977 he taught Spanish at Fordham Prep. Moving south again, from 1977 to 1988 he was assigned to Puerto Rico, teaching at Colegio San Ignacio and assisting at the Jesuit novitiate there. During the last six years there he also served as chaplain and student counselor.
Returning to the mainland, he became Assistant Director of Novices at Syracuse (1988-89) and then served from 1989 to 1996 as rector of Ciszek Hall, a residence for Jesuit seminarians studying philosophy near Fordham University. Several years of leadership of the Hispanic Lay Leadership Program (EPNE) while residing at Nativity Parish were followed by the challenging assignment as provincial of the New York Province (2002-08). After a sabbatical year, he was appointed as the rector of the Xavier Jesuit Community. He was carrying out that mission when he unexpectedly died.
The mission of inculturation articulated and promoted by the Society of Jesus in the 32nd General Congregation was at the heart of his Jesuit life and work with Latinos. So too, he constantly manifested deep personal care or cura personalis for his Jesuit companions, students, co-workers and those he directed. This quality found full expression in his six years as Provincial Superior of the New York Province.
He is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Eileen Correll of Stallings, N.C., and Mrs. Gladys Pfeifer of Indianapolis.