- Letter from Felix Reczek, OFM to William Gulas, OFM, January 21, 1988.
John was born in West Rutland, Vermont, on August 3, 1913, to Stanislaus and Eva (Jaroszczak) Reczek. He was baptized at St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, West Rutland on August 10, 1913. John completed his elementary education at St. Stanislaus School. He had originally wanted to attend high school with the Franciscans after seeing an old issue of the Miesiesznik Franciszkanski but his family was unable to afford the yearly tuition so he attended and completed his secondary education at Mount of St. Joseph Academy, Rutland, Vermont.
Following graduation, John found work in the woolen mills of Ludlow, Vermont. During this time, his desire to be a Franciscan stayed with him so he saved up enough money and took a long train ride to Pulaski in preparation for entrance into the novitiate. John was invested with the habit on August 14, 1936 and given the religious name “Felix”. He made his simple profession on August 15, 1937 and made his solemn profession on August 15, 1940, in the hands of Isidore Cwiklinski at Assumption B.V.M. Friary.
Completing his studies in philosophy at St. Francis College, Burlington, Felix moved to Lourdes Friary and Seminary in 1941 to begin studies in theology. He completed his theological studies at St. Mary of the Angels Friary, Green Bay in 1944. Felix was ordained to the priesthood on June 15, 1944 by Bishop Stanislaus Bona of the Diocese of Green Bay.
Felix began his life of ministry as an “excurrens” to Sacred Heart Friary in Canton, Massachusetts, from 1949 to 1951. He then began a ministry as a Home Missionary that would last for 26 years taking him from friaries in Pittsburgh, Saginaw and Canton before returning to Pittsburgh.
Felix accepted the request of Bishop John Marshall of Burlington, Vermont, to do a six-month substitution at Sacred Heart Parish in Bellows Falls, Vermont, in 1977. This was to be his home for the next 27 years. His impact at Sacred Heart was most profound in the relationships he established with the people of the parish and the area. In a 2005 article published in the Bellows Falls News, Father Richard O’Donnell spoke about the queue of priests who were key to his personal growth and vocation discernment. Fr. O’Donnell mentions Felix who “had a caring heart for people.”
“He was like a grandfather. Everybody loved him. The kids in the neighborhood all loved him.” Fr. O’Donnell further noted, “When I told him I thought I had a vocation, he never pushed. He’d say a vocation is a blessing from God.” “Father Reczek modeled qualities he wants to emulate: compassion, kindness, appreciation, availability and holiness.”
In 2004, the Diocese of Burlington closed Sacred Heart Parish, and Felix moved to Queen of Peace Friary in Burlington. Needing additional health care, Felix moved to St. Ann Rest Home, Milwaukee in April of 2012. In the last year of life, he suffered a stroke which made it difficult for him to swallow. The Sisters and staff of St. Ann Rest Home patiently fed him a pureed meal three times a day to provide nourishment. On December 16, when the staff entered his room to prepare him for the 6:55 a.m. Mass, Felix was found unresponsive.
Felix Reczek, OFM died on December 21, 2014, at St. Ann Rest Home in the 101st year of his life, the 77th year of his profession as a friar minor and the 70th year of his priesthood. The visitation for our brother Felix will be held on Wednesday, December 24, 2015, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. at Queen of Peace Friary. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m.
Burial at the Provincial Cemetery in Pulaski, Wisconsin, is to be determined.
May the soul of Felix and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.
(Thanks to Jerry Tokarz, OFM for information provided in Sandalprints, January 2005)