COLORADO SPRINGS. Holy Cross Brother James Edward Blaszak died on Dec. 5 at age 77. Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Dec. 15 in St. Joseph Chapel at Holy Cross College in Notre Dame, Indiana.
Memorial Masses will be celebrated on Dec. 18 at 4:30 p.m. at Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Woodland Park and on Jan. 6 at 8 a.m. at Sacred Heart Parish in Colorado Springs.
Brother James was born in Willis, Michigan, on Oct. 23, 1944, one of three children born to Sylvester and Frances (Reno) Blaszak. It was because of his mother Frances’ ability to teach her children the “ways of the kitchen,” that James enjoyed cooking so much that he entered Holy Cross with the sole intention of being a community cook.
He attended Immaculate Conception Elementary school in Milan, Michigan, and graduated from Monroe Catholic Central High School in Monroe in 1963. He was influenced by the brothers in high school and entered the Congregation of Holy Cross as a brother in 1963 with three other seniors from his graduating class. He pronounced his first vows in 1964, taking final vows in 1971.
For the next 35 years of his 52 years in Holy Cross, Brother James served the congregation as either a cook and/or a farmer in several places in northern Indiana: St. Joseph Novitiate, Rolling Prairie; Columba Hall at the University of Notre Dame; the Provincial House and Holy Cross Brothers Center in South Bend; and Le Mans Academy in Rolling Prairie. His cooking delighted his brothers in Holy Cross and his many lay friends.
He lived at Silver Lake Farm in Rolling Prairie from 1980 through 1996, working the land and tending to the livestock. In 1987, he was appointed the farm’s director.
In 1996, he was hired as the maintenance director for Sacred Heart Parish in La Porte, Indiana, and was named pastoral associate in 1997 by Bishop Dale Melczek of Gary.
The pastor of Sacred Heart, Father Gerald Sroka, remembers Brother James, as “a humble but very visible fixture . . . (a man who) served the parish through maintenance work, as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, on the funeral committee, as a cook, visiting shut-ins, and whatever else he added.”
He remained at Sacred Heart until 2012, when he was added to the staff at Holy Cross Novitiate in Cascade, where he died.