Father William J. Blazewicz, at the age of 80 and a priest for 54 years, died Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in La Crosse.
Father Blazewicz was born May 18, 1933, in Mauston, to Michael and Mary (Niemojewski) Blazewicz.
He attended Holy Cross Seminary in La Crosse and Saint Francis Seminary in Milwaukee. He was ordained May 9, 1959, in Christ the King Chapel of Holy Cross Seminary by the Most Reverend John P. Treacy, Bishop of La Crosse.
Father Blazewicz’s first assignment following ordination was as Assistant to Father Anthony Thuecks at Saint Joseph Parish in Black River Falls. He served as Assistant to Father Alfred Hebert at Saint Wenceslaus Parish in La Crosse from June until September of 1962, and to Father Owen Mitchell at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Richland Center from September 1962 to June 1963. At that time he was appointed Chaplain at Saint Benedict Hospital in Durand, where he served until 1966, during which time he also taught religion and English at Sacred Heart High School in Lima. On June 15, 1966, Father Blazewicz was appointed Assistant to Monsignor John Pittz at Sacred Heart Parish and Instructor at Regis High School, both in Eau Claire.
In 1967 Father Blazewicz was given a leave of absence from the active ministry and was dispensed from the obligations of sacred orders Jan. 29, 1971. Living in Philadelphia, he earned a doctorate in education and taught English on the college level. From 1976 to 1987 he was employed as a science specialist for the Philadelphia Public Schools. He sponsored a family of 10 Vietnamese refugees in his home and in 1982 he also sponsored several young refugees from Cambodia. After spending 11 months at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, Jan. 25, 1989, he was reintegrated into the active ministry by virtue of a decree of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which was approved by Pope John Paul II Dec. 16, 1988.
Effective Feb. 18, 1989, Father Blazewicz was appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Mondovi. He resigned in January 1998 in order to attend the Institute for Continuing Education at the North American College in Rome. Upon returning Father Blazewicz was appointed Pastor of Saint James Parish in Camp Douglas and Saint Michael Parish, Indian Creek, effective May 19, 1998, where he served until being granted the status of senior priest Feb. 1, 2001.
Father Blazewicz is survived by his sister, Dorothy Zilinski; nieces and nephews; great-nieces and nephews; and a special caregiver and friend, Nancy Kaiser.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Margaret Gardner and Henrietta Karas; and brothers, Harry, Arthur, Edwin and Eugene.
The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 20, at Saint Patrick Church, 401 Mansion St., Mauston. The Most Reverend William Patrick Callahan, Bishop of La Crosse, will be the principal celebrant and homilist. Visitation will be held Wednesday, Feb. 19, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m., at Saint Patrick Church in Mauston, with Evening Prayer from the Office of the Dead at 7 p.m. Monsignor Richard W. Gilles will preside. Visitation will also be held Thursday morning from 10 a.m. until the time of the Mass.