Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of, Fr. Frank A. Majka, SJ, who died on September 7, 2023 at St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. He was 78 years old. May he rest in peace.
Frank was born in San Francisco, California on July 5, 1945, raised in Omaha, and entered the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus at Jesuit College, St. Bonifacius, Minnesota, on September 1, 1963. He was ordained at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco on March 23, 1974 and pronounced final vows at Marquette University High School on July 31, 1985.
Before entrance, Frank graduated from Creighton Preparatory School (1963). While in the Society, Frank earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Saint Louis University (1969) and a master’s of divinity and theology from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley (1974).
During regency, Frank taught English at Creighton Preparatory School (1969-1971). After ordination Frank spent his Jesuit life working at Marquette University and Marquette University High School. At Marquette University he was a campus minister (1974-1975, 1977-1978, 1996-2011) and assistant director of campus ministry (2009-2011). At MUHS, Frank was principal (1975-1977), a teacher of theology (1978-1985, 1987-1995), and performed pastoral ministry and Ignatian spirituality formation (2012-2021). In addition to his ministry at Marquette University and MUHS, Frank was on the novitiate staff (1986) and he served as the Wisconsin Provincial Assistant for Secondary Education (2009-2011). In 2021, Frank was missioned to St. Camillus Jesuit Community to care for his health.
Frank was a faithful priest and Jesuit. Till the end, he drew strength from his relationship with Jesus: “I have learned a lot about pancreatic cancer, but I have also learned about how to encounter God and be comforted by his presence. The long and short of it is that God is always accessible to me whether in good times or challenging ones. I was lucky enough not just to believe that, but to genuinely experience his presence. That is why I have described my experience as being simultaneously touched by cancer and embraced by love. It was never one over the other but both being offered me at the same time.”
Father Paul Shelton, SJ, had these memories of Frank:
Frank was an incredible Jesuit and a dear friend. I first met Frank at Marquette University as a freshman in 1999. It was through Frank that I met my best friends at Marquette. He would sit and laugh with us. After graduation, Frank became a frequent guest of our friend group and was very much a beloved uncle to us up to his death. We all were affected deeply by Frank’s joy, sense of humor, and his willingness to have a coffee with us while we navigated the complexities of our perspective vocations, mine as a Jesuit and my friends as husbands and fathers. Upon his passing one friend wrote, “Frank had an incredible gift for making people feel that they were interesting and valuable. In his presence, I was often reminded of the basic message of the first chapter of Genesis—that God is glad that he made me, sees something good in me, and looks forward to spending time with me.” Another wrote, “I will always remember Frank raising a glass to me when I told him I was converting to Judaism. It was a small and surprising token that made me feel close to him. That man could clearly embrace the long, winding road to Christ.” A third has this to say about Frank: “If St. Ignatius’ fundamental expectation was that Jesuits would steer souls toward Christ, no one did it with more joy and laughter than Frank Majka.” As for me, I will miss seeing Frank with a coffee in hand and a giant smile on my face. In so many ways, he gave me permission to be a Jesuit, to be his equal, his friend, his brother. He will be greatly missed by so many men whom he loved into being.