Wheeling Jesuit University mourns the death of former president the Rev. Joseph R. Hacala, SJ, 61, who passed away Monday, Feb. 19, from complications due to amyloidosis, a rare but potentially fatal organ protein disease. The Rev. Hacala had been receiving treatment for the disease at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., since Sept. 17, 2006.
"Rev. Christopher Fronk, SJ, rector of the Wheeling Jesuit community and director of University Campus Ministry, told me that Father Hacala died today during a sudden bout of pneumonia, which had greatly weakened his already fragile medical condition," said James F. Birge, PhD, interim president of Wheeling Jesuit University. "As his illness progressed, Father Hacala accepted his condition with great faith, always being more concerned about the well-being of others, with little focus on his own grave condition. He had an extraordinary concern and commitment for the well-being of the people of his beloved and native state of West Virginia."
Fr. Hacala was the seventh president of Wheeling Jesuit University, serving in that capacity from July 2003 until September 2006. Before becoming president, he was rector of the Jesuit community at Wheeling from 2001 until 2003. Prior to that, Fr. Hacala served as special assistant to Secretary Andrew Cuomo at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and as director of HUD's innovative Center for Community and Interfaith Partnerships. He served as the executive director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1990 until 1995 and as director of the National Office of Jesuit Social Ministries at the National Jesuit Conference in Washington, D.C., from 1984 until 1990.
During his 15 years in Washington, D.C., Fr. Hacala assisted at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church near Capitol Hill.
Fr. Hacala was born Feb. 28, 1945, in Charleston, W.Va. He entered the Society of Jesus on July 30, 1962, and was ordained into the priesthood on June 7, 1975. His education includes a bachelor's degree in sociology from Loyola University, Chicago; a master's degree in social work from the University of Illinois; and a master's degree in divinity from Regis College in Toronto, Canada.
During his presidency at Wheeling Jesuit University, Fr. Hacala established new opportunities for student service to others, reinstated the Mass of the Holy Spirit and other annual liturgical celebrations, opened the Service for Social Action Center, began a restructuring of the university's finances, and created a renewed sense of benefaction, stewardship and engagement among alumni and friends of Wheeling Jesuit University.
The Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus has announced the arrangements for Fr. Hacala's funeral.
The viewings and funeral Mass will be held at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church, 19 Eye Street, NW, Washington DC, 20001.
Viewing times on Friday, Feb. 23 will be from 2 -5 p.m. and from 7-8:45 p.m. A wake service will begin at 8:45 p.m. Viewing times on Saturday, Feb. 24 will be from 9 -10 a.m.
Funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. Burial will be at 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24 at The Jesuit Center at Wernersville, 501 N. Church Road, Wernersville, Pa. 19565
A local memorial service is being planned for after Wheeling Jesuit University's spring break, Feb. 24 - March 4. Details will be publicized when they have been confirmed.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the Hacala Family Memorial Scholarship Fund or the Rev. Clifford M. Lewis Appalachian Institute Fund, Wheeling Jesuit University, 316 Washington Ave., Wheeling, WV 26003. Arrangements by Collins Funeral Home.