—Monsignor James C. Gurzynski, former Vicar General of the Diocese of Amarillo who served as Administrator Sede Vacante in 1997, passed away April 8 after a brief illness. He was 75 years old.
Vigil: April 11, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church-Amarillo
Funeral Mass: April 12, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Mary’s Cathedral – Amarillo
James Clement Gurzynski was born in Toledo, Ohio on April 28, 1937, the only child of C.J. Gurzynski and Jeanette Enck. After graduation from high school, he attended St. Meinrad Minor Seminary in Indiana and St. Mary’s College in Orchard Lake, Mich., where he received a Bachelor’s Degree on May 31, 1959. His theological studies were at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, also in Orchard Lake.
Gurzynski was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Amarillo on May 25, 1963 at St. Hyacinth’s Church in Toledo by Bishop George J. Rehring of the Diocese of Toledo. Father Gurzynski celebrated his first Mass on June 9, also at St. Hyacinth’s Church in Toledo.
Father Gurzynski’s first assignment was at Our Lady of Grace Church, Lubbock, where he served as an assistant from Sept. 6, 1963 to Sept. 1, 1965. He was appointed Parochial Administrator of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Spearman, where he served from Sept. 1, 1965 to April 28, 1967. He was named Pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Petersburg and its mission, St. Isidore Church, Abernathy, where he remained until he left the diocese for summer study at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. in 1968.
Upon his return to the Diocese of Amarillo, Father Gurzynski was named Pastor of Sacred Heart Church, White Deer, on Aug. 18, 1969. While assigned in White Deer, he would be named the Diocesan Coordinator for Religious Education; Director of the Permanent Diaconate Program; Episcopal Vicar for Permanent Deacons; and, Director of Continuing Education for the Clergy and Religious of the Diocese of Amarillo. He also penned a column, Doing Our Christian Thing, for The West Texas Register (now The West Texas Catholic).
Father Gurzynski was assigned to St. Ann’s Church, Canyon, on July 25, 1982 and on May 1, 1984, was named Parochial Administrator at St. Joseph’s Church, Stratford. In September 1984, he left the diocese to finish Graduate Studies in Canon Law at Catholic University, where he received a Licentiate in Canon Law in May 1985.
Upon his return to the Diocese of Amarillo, Father Gurzynski was named Judicial Vicar on July 1, 1986 and Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church, Amarillo. He celebrated his Silver Anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving on June 5, 1988 at St. Laurence Cathedral (now St. Laurence Church), Amarillo. He was named a Prelate of Honor with the title of Monsignor by Blessed John Paul II in December 1990. He was appointed Vicar General of the Diocese of Amarillo on May 11, 1992.
On Jan. 21, 1997, Monsignor Gurzynski was named Administrator Sede Vacante following the resignation of then-Bishop Leroy T. Matthiesen. In May 1999, Monsignor Gurzynski retired as Judicial Vicar.
Survivors include his brother priests of the Diocese of Amarillo; and many friends.