by Fr. Dennis Donovan, SDB
Bro. Gerard Harasym, 79, passed away in a saintly manner on Thursday, August 25, at Surrey (B.C.) Memorial Hospital after a two-year struggle with cancer and almost 56 years as a dedicated Salesian brother.
Bro. Jerry at the province Jubilees Celebration
Haverstraw, N.Y., November 2010,
for his 50th anniversary.
Besides his dedication, Bro. Jerry will be remembered as a terrific youth minister and a creative artist. Involved in many civic and community affairs, he was known for leading youth renewal retreats in various places in Canada and the U.S., creating artwork for a local repertory company in Stony Point, N.Y., and serving at L’Arch Community in Ottawa, Ont. He is listed in Who’s Who in the East.
The son of John A. Harasym and Viola Lindberg, Gerard Harasym was born in Saint-Boniface, Man., on November 12, 1936. He grew up in East Kildonan (Winnipeg), attending St. Alphonsus Catholic Elementary School. His high schooling consisted of two years at St. Mary’s College in Brockville, Ont., followed by a year (1958-1959) as an aspirant at Don Bosco Technical High School in Paterson, N.J.
In 1959 Jerry began his novitiate in Newton, N.J., where he made his first profession of vows as a Salesian brother on September 8, 1960. He studied at Don Bosco College in Newton and worked in the public relations office from 1960 to 1965. From there he went to St. Anthony Church in Elizabeth, N.J., to serve as the coordinator of youth ministry (CYM) from 1965 to 1970.
Bro. Jerry studied art at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio, from 1970 to 1974, completing a bachelor of fine arts degree. During that same period, he served as the director of arts and crafts at the Salesian Boys Club of Columbus. He created several pieces of fine art which can still be found in Salesian locations in Canada and the U.S. From 1974 to 1981, Bro. Jerry was the national director the St. Dominic Savio Classroom Club, residing first at Newton and then at Haverstraw, N.Y. He edited their monthly publication, Savio Notes, and traveled the country visiting numerous units of the Club in Catholic schools.
Having retained his Canadian citizenship, Bro. Jerry returned to Toronto in 1981 and earned a bachelor of education degree from the University of Toronto in 1982. He served on the faculty of the Don Bosco Secondary School in Weston, Ont., where he specialized in visual arts and was also a special education teacher. In 1989, he moved to Montreal to serve as CYM at Mission Dominic Savio, a post he held for seven years. He was also a pastoral animator for the archdiocese of Montreal from 1991 to 1996.
From 1996 to 2002, Bro. Jerry was Salesian community treasurer and CYM at St. Benedict Parish in Etobicoke, a Toronto suburb. In 2002, he moved to Surrey, B.C., to join the pastoral animation effort of the Salesians at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, the largest parish in the archdiocese of Vancouver.
Bro. Jerry exercised many talents including teaching, figure skating, singing, dancing, not to mention his amazing artistic ability and lifelong devotion to the Church and community. Throughout his years and travels, he brought sunshine to all he met.
All the funeral arrangements were carried out at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Surrey.