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Sept. 26, 1933 – Aug. 17, 2013

The Rev. Gregory Kwapisz, a Conventual Franciscan friar, teacher and parochial vicar, died unexpectedly Saturday in St. Hyacinth Senior Friars Residence, Chicopee, Mass. He was 79.

Born Mieczyslaw Kwapisz in Buffalo, he was a 1952 graduate of Bishop Ryan High School and took the name Gregory upon entry into the Novitiate of the Franciscan Friars Conventual.

After completing his Novitiate at St. Lawrence Friary in Becket, Mass., he professed his simple vows as a Franciscan friar on Aug. 15, 1953, and his solemn vows three years later. He was ordained into the priesthood by Cardinal Aloysius Traglia at Circo Argonali, Rome, on July 10, 1960.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Bonaventure University; a bachelor of sacred theology degree from the Pontifical College of St. Bonaventure, Rome; a master’s degree in English from Canisius College; and a master’s degree in education from the University at Buffalo.

After teaching high school for a year in Baltimore, he was assigned to the Buffalo area, teaching from 1962 to 1966 at Father Baker High School in Lackawanna, followed by a year at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs and three years at his alma mater, Bishop Ryan.

Father Kwapisz went back to teach in Baltimore in 1969, then from 1977 to 1979 was the editor of the English edition of the Messaggero magazine in Padua, Italy. He returned here to serve for two years as campus minister at Villa Maria College, then was chaplain at Danville State Hospital in Danville, Pa.

His last assignments were as a parochial vicar, first from 1990 to 1993 at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Athol Springs, and from 1993 to 2003 at Corpus Christi Church, Buffalo.

Survivors include two sisters, Genevieve Lewandowski and Wanda Reipold.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Thursday in St. Francis of Assisi Church, 4263 St. Francis Drive, Athol Springs.