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University Mourns Joseph Novak, S.J.


Joseph Novak, S.J., alumni chaplain and longtime member of the Fordham family, died after a brief illness on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010, at Montefiore North Hospital in the Bronx. He was 82 years old.

“Our hearts are heavy today, for we have lost an elder brother, a wise colleague and dear friend in Father Joe Novak,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham. “His service to Fordham and to the church was both long and distinguished. Generations of Fordham students will remember Father Novak for his wit, gentleness and warmth, in and out of the classroom.”

Father Novak was born on March 14, 1927, and entered the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Feb. 1, 1945. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 22, 1957. He was a graduate of Xavier High School, Woodstock College and the International Catechetical Center at Lumen Vitae, in Brussels.

Before coming to Fordham in June 1962, where he served as an instructor both in the Department of Religion and Religious Education and at Fordham Preparatory, Father Novak taught at Saint Peter’s Preparatory and McQuaid Jesuit High School. During his career, Father Novak was the rector of the Jesuit community at Fordham and at Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City, N.J. He served on the boards of Saint Peter’s College, the University of Scranton, the College of the Holy Cross and LeMoyne College. He also served on the Board of Regents of Saint Peter’s College. He was the author of Christian Vocation: Call of the King (Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1964).

Since September 2004, Father Novak served as Fordham’s alumni chaplain, providing pastoral care to graduates and their families, developing and leading alumni retreats, and offering a series of continuing education programs to graduates. He was a gracious colleague, a mentor and a friend to the Development and University Relations staff.

The Department of Development and University Relations has established a scholarship fund in loving memory of Father Novak.

The Joseph Novak, S.J., Memorial Award, will provide financial support to students who exemplify thoughtfulness and dedication to others, attributes that Father Novak embodied. Preference will be given to students assisting in the Department of Development and University Relations who demonstrate collegiality in their interactions with others on behalf of the University.

To make a donation to the fund, please use our secure online giving form today. Be sure to select Joseph Novak, S.J., Memorial Award from the drop-down menu.

Father Novak is survived by his brother, Vincent Novak, S.J., founding dean of Fordham’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, and his sisters Lucy Novak and Antoinette Frees, and members of the Spellman Jesuit community. Father Novak’s parents, Spiro and Pauline Novak, are deceased.

Father Novak will be interred in the Jesuit Cemetery, Auriesville, N.Y. Notes of condolence may be sent to his brother, Father Vincent Novak, at:

Vincent Novak, S.J.
Fordham University
Loyola Hall, Rose Hill Campus
Bronx, NY 10458


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