Meet an SCJ: Fr. John Czyzynski, SCJ

Fr. John Czyzynski SCJ

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio (which we Clevelanders call “the best location in the nation”; others are not as gracious in the epithets they attach to my home town). I had two sisters, one of whom died two years ago. My other sister still lives in Cleveland.

I entered our minor seminary in Donaldson, Ind., two weeks before I turned 14, in 1951. I made my first profession of vows in 1956 and was ordained to the priesthood in December of 1963. I went through our whole seminary system and besides that, did studies in the classical languages at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. I also earned a license in theology from Catholic University and a license in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.

As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a priest. When I left home to go to the minor seminary I really did not know the difference between a religious and a diocesan priest. However, when my pastor asked if I wanted to go to the diocesan seminary, I said I wanted to go to Donaldson, because, thanks to our vocation recruiter, Fr. George Pinger, SCJ, I knew guys who were going to Donaldson and didn’t know anyone going to the diocesan place. So although I may have become associated with the SCJs by accident, I have come to a deep appreciation of the charism of Fr. Dehon, which he passed on to the SCJs.

I feel convinced that Fr. Dehon took the core of the gospel and made it the focus of the spirituality of the community he founded. For me to be an SCJ is to unite myself with Jesus in his offering to God, to be at God’s disposition, ready to do or accept what God asks of me so that people may know the tremendous love God has for us. And as SCJs we are asked, called to be present especially to those who have the hardest time believing in the love God has for them because of the circumstances of their lives-as Fr. Dehon put it: “ministry to the lowly and the humble, the workers and the poor.”

I taught sacred scripture at Sacred Heart Monastery/Sacred Heart School of Theology for five years, but eventually became more and more involved in spiritual formation. I asked that I be able to do formation ministry, and so Dr. Richard Lux was hired to take over the scripture classes I taught, freeing me to do formation ministry.

I have been involved in formation ministry since 1973 (except for six years when I served as provincial superior). Most of those years were with students at Sacred Heart School of Theology who belonged to various dioceses throughout the United States. Some of the students were members of other religious communities. More recently (since about 1990), I have been involved in the formation of candidates and young religious for our own community.

I have an interest in sports, and my favorite teams are the Cleveland Indians, the Cleveland Browns and the Notre Dame football team. Hobbies include golfing, doing counted cross stitch and following the adventures of Harry Potter.