Celebrating the Ministry of Msgr. Wojtycha
by Father John J. Cryan, Special to The Catholic Advocate

(Father John J. Cryan, the pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, Jersey City, submitted the following article as a remembrance and appreciation for his "dear mentor and friend" Rev. Msgr. Edward F. Wojtycha, who died June 8 in Stuart, FL, at the age of 95. Last year Msgr. Wojtycha celebrated the 70-year anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. He was the oldest priest of the Archdiocese of Newark.)

Msgr. Edward Wojtycha

Rev. Msgr. Edward F. Wojtycha was the beloved son of the late Frank and Marie (Zablocki) Wojtycha; the brother of the late Chester Wojtycha and Dr. Bernard J. Wattiker; the beloved uncle of Dr. Edward B. Wojtycha, Anne Ciesla, Katherine Olivette, Virginia Sheerin, William Wattiker, Paula Majors, Peter Wattiker and Barbara Stellway.

Born in Jersey City, Msgr. Wojtycha graduated from Saint Peter's Prep, Jersey City; Seton Hall University, South Orange; and continued studies at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Darlington. He was ordained June 11, 1938 and said his first Mass of Thanksgiving at Our Lady of Victories, Jersey City.

Msgr. Wojtycha served in three parishes during his priestly career. His first assignment was Saint Vincent de Paul Parish, Bayonne, from 1938 to 1963, where he was an administrator for seven years. In 1963 Archbishop Thomas A Boland appointed Msgr. Wojtycha as the founding pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Jersey City, where he served until his appointment as pastor of Saint Andrew's Parish, Bayonne, in 1970.

He ministered to the faithful of the Bergen Point area of Bayonne until his retirement in 1985. Two years earlier Pope John Paul II had elevated him to the rank of domestic prelate.

Pastoral administration was among the strongest of his many gifts. Throughout his extraordinary ministry, Msgr. Wojtycha saw the "burning of mortgages" of Saint Vincent de Paul Parish and Our Lady of Mercy Parish. In addition, his consistent priestly witness allowed 29 young men to hear the call to ordained ministry.

Besides being a hard-working pastor, Msgr. Wojtycha was a member of the Archdiocese of Newark's Assessment and Review Board. He assisted in the formation of the archdiocese's first Priests Personnel Board.

Reaching out to the community at large, he served as auxiliary naval chaplain at the Bayonne naval base and was named "Man of the Year" from organizations such as the state and national Junior Chamber of Commerce; Kiwanis; Rotary; Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree; Disabled War Veterans; and American Legion. He received the NJ "Governor's Award" and is cited in the records of the U.S. Congress and NJ State Legislature. He also received the VFW National Youth Award.

Of all his exceptional achievements, his most cherished was the founding of the Saint Vincent's Drum and Bugle Corps. The corps won 10 national championships and 22 state championships.

The corps had the honor of marching in the inaugurations of presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy. For all of this, Msgr. Wojtycha was elected to the National Drum Corps Hall of Fame as well as the New Jersey and Massachusetts drum corps halls of fame.

(Editor's note: Archbishop Emeritus Peter L. Gerety presided at the Mass of Christian Burial for Msgr. Wojtycha at Saint Vincent de Paul Parish on June 15.)

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