Superheroes come in many shapes and sizes. And who would have thought that Carl Joseph Graczyk would be numbered among them. It was December 11, 1985. At Archbishop Ryan High School for Boys, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it was just another normal, ordinary, everyday Tuesday, except, of course, that everybody was talking about little else but the hostages and their adventure in the dean’s office the day before. Yes, our beloved Carl was one of the hostages. It took 7 ½ hours before the gunman was wrestled to the ground and all found their way to freedom.
This same Carl Graczyk who was born to Valerion and Stephanie Graczyk of South Bend, Indiana on March 11, 1943. His early years of education took place in St. Casimir Parochial School and St. Joseph High School in South Bend. It was Reverend Bernard Niemier, C.S.C. who in his letter of recommendation provided a glowing description of Carl’s personality, “his motives for entering the seminary are good, and sincerely I recommend his acceptance as a student-candidate into your seminary.” Remigius Steczkowski, O.F.M., Minister Provincial, received Carl into the novitiate of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin at Queen of Peace Friary, on August 14, 1962. He was given the religious name, “Gilbert,” one he quickly shed when given the option to return to his baptismal name.
Carl completed his college education at St. Francis College and Friary in Burlington, Wisconsin and went on to Christ the King Seminary in West Chicago, Illinois. On January 10, 1972, Carl received an obedience from Fr. Dacian Bluma, O.F.M., Minister Provincial, assigning him to Archbishop Ryan High School for Boys as a teacher, thus beginning his ministry at Ryan from 1972 until 2008. Carl would find his energy and enthusiasm given in large measure to the educational ministry. Bishop Gerald McDevitt, Philadelphia, ordained Carl to the diaconate on March 10, 1973.
Carl ministered as deacon for only three months before Bishop Leo Brust, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, would ordain Carl as priest on June 2, 1973. In addition to his responsibilities at Archbishop Ryan High School for Boys, Carl would do parochial ministry on the weekends. He was very popular with many who found his weekend masses short, sweet and to the point. Rumor has it that even with a homily; Carl was able to celebrate mass in under 20 minutes.
With the changes that were happening at Archbishop Ryan High School, Carl found himself returning to the Midwest. It was in 2013 that Carl responded to an obedience from Fr. John Puodziunas, O.F.M., Minister Provincial, to minister at St. Ann’s Rest Home, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as chaplain to the Polish Dominican Sisters and the residents at the Rest Home. This would be his final assignment.
With significant health issues, Carl was taken to St. Francis Hospital, Milwaukee. It was early on Sunday, November 4, 2018. With the Dominican Sisters and Fr. Bill Stout at his side, Carl met Sister Death. Carl died in the 75th year of his life, 52nd year of Solemn Profession and the 45th year of Ordination.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.