Very Rev. Father Christian R. Oravec, T.O.R., 77, of the Third Order Regular Franciscans of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, died suddenly on Saturday, July 19, 2014 at Conemaugh Hospital, Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
He was born on July 13, 1937 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and given the name Robert. He was the son of late Andrew George and Gabriella Theresa Kavacic Oravec. He was a graduate of Morell and Bheam Elementary Schools, Johnstown, Garfield Junior High School, Johnstown and Johnstown Central High School, 1955. After high school graduation he entered the Third Order Regular on September 8, 1955 in Loretto. He entered novitiate at Portiuncula Friary, Washington, D.C. on June 30, 1956, and made his first profession of vows on July 1, 1957. He pronounced his solemn vows on July 1, 1960 at Mt. Assisi Friary, Loretto.
Fr. Christian was ordained to the priesthood by the late Bishop J. Carroll McCormick, D.D. of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Altoona, on May 23, 1964. Fr. Christian received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from St. Francis University, Loretto, 1960; Theological studies, St Francis Seminary, Loretto, 1964; graduate studies, the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. He did graduate studies at the University of Paris, France. He received a Baccalaureate, Universite de Louvain, Belgium, 1965; Licentiate Universite de Louvain, Belgium, 1967; Doctorate, Universite de Louvain, Belgium, with the doctoral dissertation The Ecclesiology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Exposition, Evolution, Analysis, 1969.
For over half a century Fr. Christian was a faithful son of St. Francis; a renowned educator and a respected business and civic leader. He was professor of Dogmatic and Systematic Theology, St. Francis Seminary, Loretto, 1969-1976; Director of Postulants of the Third Order Regular, 1970-1976; Executive Vice-President, St. Francis University 1976-1977; President of St. Francis University, 1977-2004.
He was elected to the Provincial Council four times and served sixteen years. He was Minister Provincial for two terms, and served eight years. He was Chairman of the Board of Trustees, St. Francis University, Loretto,2004-2012; Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, Ohio, 2004-2012. At the present time, he was Director of Provincial Archives and served on the faculty of St. Francis University.
With his very busy schedule, Fr. Christian made time to minister to the people of God. After ordination, while studying in Europe, he ministered at St. Josef Church, Vienna, Austria; Bon Pasteur Hospital, Paris, France; Joannes Hover Haus, Aachen, Germany; U.S. Army and Air Force bases in Germany and at Louvain and Brussels, Belgium. After returning to this country, he gave pastoral assistance at St. John Vianney Church, Mundys Corners, PA; Good Shepherd Church, State College, PA, as well as ministering in several local convents. He gave retreats and days of recollection in Franciscan communities, in dioceses, at parishes and military bases. He was involved in ecumenical ministry and was guest preacher for Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist and Lutheran congregations.
Fr. Christian served on several boards and councils for the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, including the commission for the Beatification of Servant of God Fr. Demetrius Gallitzin. He served on numerous boards including the Board of Trustees, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto; Board of Directors AmeriServ Financial Bank, Johnstown; Community Relations Board, Vice Chairman, Federal Correctional Institution, Loretto; Steering Committee, Celebrate One (annual Ecumenical Christian Service.) He was chairman of accreditation teams, Commission of Higher Education, Middle States Association of Colleges and Universities and Chairman of Division I Certification Teams, National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Fr. Christian received many awards during his life, including Doctor of Pedagogy Degree, honoris causa, Franciscan University of Steubenville, 1983; Master of the Order, Third Order Regular, 1997; Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross, Pope John Paul II, 2001; Prince Gallitzin Cross, Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, 2002; and President Emeritus, St. Francis University, Board of Trustees, 2006.
Fr. Christian is survived by his sister, Theresa Rose Grandinetti; and his brother and sister-in-law Anthony Andrew and Marion Domenick Oravec, Johnstown; nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, and great-great nieces and great-great nephews, great-great-great nieces and great-great-great nephews; and his Franciscan brothers. He was preceded in death by four sisters: Sue Hammer, Kathryn Krumenacker, Mary Gordian and Elizabeth Kuchenbrod.
Friends will be received in the Immaculate Conception Chapel, St. Francis University, Loretto on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 from 3:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. and a Vigil Service will be celebrated at 7:30 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be concelebrated on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. in the Immaculate Conception Chapel with the Very Rev. Richard L. Davis, T.O.R., Minister Provincial, as principal celebrant. Following the Mass, internment will take place in the Friars’ Cemetery on the campus of St. Francis University, Loretto, PA. Memorial contributions may be made to support retired T.O.R. Friars in care of T.O.R. Retirement Fund, St. Francis Friary, P.O. Box 137, Loretto, PA 15940.
The university has created a memorial page where alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends may post condolences and share memories. Please visit the page here: http://francis.edu/fr-christian-oravec-memoriam/