Milwaukee-born college president, missionary priest served where called

Father Gilbert Gawlik, 1926-2010

Gawlik,_Fr_Gil_for_webDivine Word Father Gilbert Gawlik, a leader in seminary education in the United States and the Philippines, died Monday, June 14, in Techny, Ill.

Born in Milwaukee in 1926, he was the third of Clement and Agnes (nee Czarnecki) Gawlik’s eight children. The young Gil Gawlik grew up in St. Vincent de Paul and St. Josephat parishes and eventually graduated from St. Matthew Elementary School.

In 1947, he became a Divine Word Missionary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954. The Society of the Divine Word first assigned him to Indonesia, but like so many missionaries at the time, he could not obtain entry papers.

Instead, he went to the Philippines, where he spent much of the next two decades. While in the Philippines, he taught theology and educational psychology at Mindoro College (now known as Divine Word College of Calapan). In addition, he also served as dean of education for three years and college president for two terms.

Father Gawlik served his first presidential term from 1961 to 1963. Then, he went back to the United States in 1963 to attend Catholic University of America, which awarded a master’s degree in education to him in 1966, after which he returned to the Philippines and his second term as college president. During Father Gawlik’s tenure, admission at Mindoro College steadily grew.

In 1977, Father Gawlik once again returned to the United States and became vocation director, a job that he did for eight years. In 1985 with enrollment declining sharply, his religious superiors gave him the responsibility of closing Divine Word Seminary in Girard, Penn., and moving the community’s cemetery to Techny. After completing that two-year assignment, he became director of development for the Chicago Province.

Father Gawlik also served as chaplain at Techny Towers and for the Knights of Columbus. He stayed active even in retirement, working on behalf of Worldwide Marriage Encounter and filling in for the parish priests at Holy Cross in Deerfield, Ill.

Father Gawlik’s viewing and wake will be held at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit in the Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center on Sunday, June 20 at 3 p.m. His funeral Mass will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, June 21, at the Divine Word Residence Chapel. Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center is located at 2001 Waukegan Rd., Techny (Northbrook), Ill.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations for the care of retired missionaries may be sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Road, P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.

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