Jesuit Father John A. Knapek died on Oct. 17, 2015, at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 93 years old.
Fr. Knapek was born on March 5, 1922, in Natrona, Pennsylvania. He entered the Society of Jesus on Sept. 1, 1946, at Milford Novitiate in Milford, Ohio. He was ordained on April 27, 1957 in Kurseong, India. He took final vows on April 27, 1977 in Rodman Hall Jesuit Community Chapel on the campus of John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. Fr. Knapek entered the Chicago Province, became a member of the Patna Province in 1962, and transcribed into the Detroit Province in 1973.
Fr. Knapek was a machinist in the US Army (1941-1945) and attended John Carroll University for one year (1945-1946) before entering the Society. After entering the Society, Fr. Knapek did his novitiate and juniorate in Milford, Ohio. He then was missioned to India where he studied Hindi in Jamshedpur for a year (1949-1950) before studying philosophy at Sacred Heart College in Shembaganur (1951-1954), and theology at St. Mary’s College in Kurseong (1955-1958). Fr. Knapek studied clinical psychology and counseling at Loyola University Chicago (1967-1976) before obtaining a master’s degree in counseling (1976).
Throughout his Jesuit life, Fr. Knapek had great care for others. During regency he taught English and math at St. Xavier High School in Patna, India (1954-1955). After ordination, Fr. Knapek was the assistant director of Loyola Industrial School in Kurgi (1959-1961). In 1961, Fr. Knapek returned to the United States to get medical attention at the Cleveland Clinic for some serious bone issues (1961-1964). During this time he also did pastoral ministry at Ss. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church in Detroit and at St. Stanislaus in Parma, Ohio. Ultimately, rheumatism and other medical issues kept Fr. Knapek from returning to Patna. He then became the minister at St. Stanislaus in Parma (1964-1967) before studying counseling at Loyola University Chicago. After obtaining his master’s in counseling, Fr. Knapek was a student counselor at John Carroll University (1976-1993). He was the subminister (1993-1994), minister (1994-2002), and then subminister again (2002-2009) at John Carroll University. Fr. Knapek moved to Colombiere Center in 2009 where he performed community service.
Fr. Knapek was a master woodworker and made everything from toys to cabinets to furniture. He was a great friend to the Amish community in northeast Ohio.