Fr. Chester Szemborski, SDB (1923-2015)
|Fr. Chet as a jubilarian in 2005|
A message from Fr. Steve Shafran, provincial, stated that in his final illness—the result of a broken hip complicated by the onset of pneumonia—Fr. Chester was supported by the Salesian community of the Marian Shrine in Haverstraw, N.Y., to which he belonged; his loving sister Eleanor; and his family and friends.
Chet Szemborski entered this life on June 30, 1923, in Paterson, N.J., the son of Jerome and Lottie Szemborski. They belonged to St. Stephen’s Parish in Paterson, where Chet entered Christ’s life 19 days later.
Chet entered the aspirantate of Don Bosco Seminary at Newton, N.J., in the fall of 1935. He was admitted to the novitiate there in September 1939 and made his first profession of vows on September 8, 1940.
On his way toward his B.A. in philosophy, awarded by Don Bosco College in Newton in June 1943, Bro. Chester was a fine student; he graduated cum laude. He then did his practical training as teacher and assistant with the aspirants in Newton for two years and moved with the aspirants to Suffern, N.Y., in 1945.
From 1946 to 1950 Bro. Chester studied theology at the Pontificio Ateneo Salesiano (the “Crocetta”) in Turin, earning an STL degree. He was ordained on July 2, 1950, in the basilica of Mary Help of Christians at the Salesian motherhouse in Turin.
Fr. Chester returned to the province to take up various school and parish assignments. He was prefect of studies at Don Bosco Tech in Paterson (1950-1951), prefect at Salesian High in New Rochelle (1951-1953), assistant pastor at St. Anthony Church in Elizabeth, N.J. (1953-1959, 1960-1962), teacher at Don Bosco Juniorate in Haverstraw (1959-1960), assistant pastor at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Mahwah, N.J. (1962-1965), and chaplain for the Salesian Sisters in North Haledon (1965-1966).
In the late 1960s Fr. Chester did studies in psychology. He earned an M.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Rutherford, N.J., in 1969 and subsequently was licensed as a school psychologist by both New Jersey and New York. He later published his dissertation, The Wisdom of Jung: A Theory of Personality, in paperback (rare copies were selling on the Internet from $19.00 to $58.50 at the time of his death).
Notwithstanding his certification, he spent most of the years between 1970 and 1982 at the provincial residence, dealing with health problems. For one year (1971-1972) he was posted to Salesian Junior Seminary in Goshen, N.Y., as treasurer. When his health improved somewhat, he transferred to the Marian Shrine in Haverstraw, where he resided from 1982 to 2001.
Declining health led to Fr. Chester’s move to Northern Riverview Rest Home in Haverstraw in 2001, where he enjoyed visiting his fellow residents and bringing them such limited priestly ministry as he could in that situation. Frequently he was brought to visit his community at the Shrine, and he enjoyed taking part in province events such as jubilees and professions, at which he was a friendly presence. He remained at Northern Riverview until he fell and broke his hip early in September this year.
Fr. Chester is survived by his sister Eleanor Szemborski of Paterson, N.J. Two brothers, Stanley and Henry, predeceased him.
Funeral rites will be celebrated on Friday, October 23, in the chapel of the Marian Shrine:
2:00 p.m. Reception of the Body and Wake
7:30 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial
Burial will take place in Calvary Cemetery, Paterson, N.J., on Saturday, October 24, at 11:00 a.m.