Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. John A. Knapek, SJ, who died on October 17, 2015, at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Mich. He was 93 years old, a Jesuit for 69 years, and a priest for 58 years.
John was born on March 5, 1922, in Natrona, Pa. He was a machinist in the U.S. Army during World War II and attended John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio, for one year (1945-1946) before entering the Society of Jesus on September 1, 1946, at Milford, Ohio. He was ordained a priest on April 27, 1957 in Kurseong, India, and professed final vows on April 27, 1977 at John Carroll University.
Upon entering the Society, John did his novitiate and juniorate in Milford, before being missioned to India, where he studied Hindi in Jamshedpur for a year (1949-1950), philosophy at Sacred Heart College in Shembaganur (1951-1954), and theology at St. Mary's College in Kurseong (1955-1958). John later studied clinical psychology and counseling at Loyola University Chicago (1967-1976), eventually obtaining a master's in counseling at Loyola in 1976.
Though John entered the Chicago Province, he later became a member of the Patna Province in 1962, before transcribing to the Detroit Province in 1973. During his regency, he taught English and math at St. Xavier's High School in Patna, India (1954-1955). After his ordination, John served as assistant director of Loyola Industrial School in Kurgi, India (1959-1961). He then returned to the United States, serving in pastoral ministry at Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church in Detroit, Mich., and as minister at St. Stanislaus (now the Jesuit Retreat House of Cleveland) in Parma, Ohio (1964-1967). After obtaining his degrees in counseling, John served as a student counselor at John Carroll University (1976-1993), as well as subminister (1993-1994 and 2002-2009) and minister (1994-2002). He moved to Colombiere Center in 2009, where he performed community service.
John was a master woodworker, making everything from toys to cabinets and furniture. He was also a great friend to the Amish community in Northeast Ohio. Throughout his Jesuit life, John had tremendous care for others.