The Rev. Blase Wegierski, 59, priest, Navy chaplain

March 30, 2003

The Rev. Blase Wegierski, a Franciscan priest and Navy chaplain, died of cardiac arrest Wednesday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. He was 59.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Fells Point, he was a 1961 graduate of Polytechnic Institute.

In 1961, he entered the novitiate of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, Conventual in Ellicott City, and he professed his vows in 1962. After earning his bachelor's degree in 1966 from St. Hyacinth College and Seminary in Grandby, Mass., he began teaching at St. Kolbe High School in Bridgeport, Conn.

After studying at the Seraphicum, the international school of the Franciscan order in Rome, he was ordained a priest at the Basilica of St. Joseph Cupertino in Osimo, Italy, in 1971.

Father Wegierski held teaching and pastoral posts in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, before entering the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps in 1998. After graduating from chaplain school, he served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz until 2000, when he was assigned to the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot at Parris Island, S.C.

He continued serving at the South Carolina military installation until last month, when he was hospitalized with encephalitis.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow for Father Wegierski at St. Casimir Roman Catholic Church, Kenwood Avenue and O'Donnell Street. Burial with full military honors will follow at St. Stanislaus Cemetery.

Father Wegierski is survived by his mother, Mary Wegierski of East Baltimore; a brother, Edward Wegierski of Parkville; and a sister, Margaret Hresko of East Baltimore.

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