Sister Death embraced +Friar Justin Ratajczak, OFM Conv., on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. Our brother died at Lorien Health Services in Columbia, Maryland at the age of 74.
+ Fr. Justin (Leonard) Anthony Ratajczak, OFM Conv. was born in Baltimore, Md., on Feb. 2, 1949, and died on Oct. 25, 2023, in Columbia, Md. He was the son of the late Leonard and Agnes (nee Guraleczka) Ratajczak. In addition to his Franciscan family, he leaves his brother Timothy Ratajczak. He was predeceased by his sisters, Denise and Jeanine.
Having grown up around the Franciscans as a parishioner and elementary school student at St. Casimir Parish in Baltimore, and having worked for a time in the family grocery store, Friar Justin entered the Novitiate of the Conventual Franciscans in Ellicott City, professing first vows on Aug. 15, 1968. He then studied at St. Hyacinth College in Granby, Mass. (earning his B.A. in Philosophy in 1972), during which time he professed Solemn Vows on Aug. 15, 1971. He completed his M.Div. at St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary in Rensselaer, N.Y., in 1977, and was ordained to the priesthood on May 7, 1977.
Fr. Justin’s first assignments were in the high school apostolate. From 1977 to 1982, he taught at Cardinal O’Hara High School in Tonawanda, N.Y. He taught at St. Francis High School in Hamburg, N.Y., until 1987. He then transitioned to the parochial ministry, serving at St. Anthony of Padua, Fairfield, Conn. (1987-88); St. Stanislaus, Sharon, Penn. (1988-97); and St. Clement Mary Hofbauer, Baltimore (1997-2002). He was beloved at All Saints Parish in Boswell, Penn., where he served as pastor from 2002-2010. Fr. Justin’ last parochial assignment was as pastor of the Church of the Annunciation in Baltimore, from 2010 to 2016. Due to illness, he was transferred to St. Joseph Cupertino Friary in Ellicott City, Md., before being moved into skilled nursing care at Lorien Health Services in Columbia, Md.
Viewing will take place on Monday, Oct. 30, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Church of the Annunciation (5212 McCormick Avenue, Baltimore), with a Franciscan Wake Service at 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 11 a.m., also at the Church of the Annunciation. Internment will follow at 1:30 p.m., at St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Baltimore. Memorial Donations may be made to the Franciscan Education Burse, 12300 Folly Quarter Rd., Ellicott City, MD 21042.