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4/24/2012 8:56:00 AM
University of Portland mourns loss of long-time teacher, advisor, and mentor

University of Portland is mourning the loss of Holy Cross Father Chester Prusynski, who passed away on Sunday, April 22, at Holy Cross House, Notre Dame, Ind. He was 91.

Fr. Prusynski, better known on campus as Fr. Pru, served at the University of Portland for 46 years (1964-2010) in a wide variety of capacities. He was a member of the university’s board of regents, taught in the school of business, served as director of Shipstad and Kenna Halls, worked in student accounts, and served as on-site director of the Salzburg program before his formal retirement in 1985.

He was perhaps best known as a tireless advocate for the university’s athletics programs, serving for decades as both a team chaplain and ardent fan. In recognition of his support, he is a member of the Portland Pilots Hall of Fame, the university annually awards the Fr. Chester Prusynski Award to its top student-athletes, and the state-of-the-art soccer practice field at the Clive Charles Soccer Complex was named Rev. Chester S. Prusynski Field (affectionately known as “Pru Pitch”) in his honor.

In the Summer 2009 issue of Portland Magazine, it was written that the shy, modest and beloved Fr. Pru was “a Holy Cross priest first, a Pilot fan second, a Pru third, and a public speaker never.”

Fr. Prusynski was born in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., in, 1920. He was baptized at St. Lawrence Parish, Wisconsin Rapids in 1938. After graduating from Lincoln High School, he entered the United States Army. Because of the G.I. Bill, he was able to attend Marquette University, Milwaukee, graduating in 1950. He later received his master's degree in business education from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis., in 1953.

In 1956, Fr. Pursynski joined the Congregation of Holy Cross when he entered Sacred Heart Novitiate in Jordan, Minn. and made his First Vows there a year later. After a year at Moreau Seminary, Notre Dame, Ind., and four years of studying theology at Holy Cross College in Washington, D.C., he was ordained to the priesthood on May 26, 1962 in The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee. Fr. Prusynski would have celebrated his 50th anniversary of Ordination with the Holy Cross community at the Jubilee Celebration on May 25.

Following a year in the pastoral apprenticeship program at the University of Notre Dame, a year of teaching and prefecting in a student residence hall, Fr. Prusynski was assigned to the University of Portland, in 1964. During his service, he taught accounting, served on the Board of Regents, and became a steward of the local Holy Cross Community. He also assisted in various parishes in the Portland area.

Fr. Prusynski is preceded in death by his parents, Stephen and Josephine Prusynski; his brothers: Ollie, Severe, and Clifford; and his sisters: Marcella Miller and Dorothy Ferhman. He is survived by his brother, George, his sister, Verna Johnson, several nieces and nephews, and several great nieces and nephews.

Viewing for Fr. Prusynski will be held in the Chapel of Moreau Seminary, University of Notre Dame, on Wednesday, April 25, from 3:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a Wake Service at 7:30 p.m. The funeral Mass will be celebrated at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame, Ind., Thursday, April 26, at 3:30 p.m. Kaniewski Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Details about an on-campus memorial service for Fr. Pru are pending.

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