The Rev. Clement J. Petrik, a Jesuit priest, died Thursday of complications of cancer at Alberto Hurtado House, the Fells Point Roman Catholic religious community where he was rector. He was 71.
A regular celebrant and speaker on the Sunday morning Radio Mass of Baltimore broadcast, he had headed Jesuit communities in Baltimore and other cities in his 53 years in religious life.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Belair Road in Gardenville, he was a 1950 Loyola High School graduate. He immediately entered the Society of Jesus in Wernersville, Pa., and studied at Jesuit seminaries in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and Shrub Oak, N.Y., before his 1963 ordination by then Archbishop Lawrence J. Shehan. He completed his theology studies a year later at the old Woodstock College.
Father Petrik then studied the German language in Mainz, Germany. From 1966 to 1974 he taught that language, first at Loyola High School in Towson and then at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, where he later served as headmaster.
He was religious superior and director of Loyola Retreat House in Faulkner, Charles County, from 1979 to 1986. While there, friends said, he raised and distributed funds to assist the rural poor. They said his calm, unassuming manner and deep spirituality served him as religious superior.
"He had wonderful insights and a great heart for the poor, the down and out, and the sick," said the Rev. William J. Watters, pastor of St. Ignatius Church in downtown Baltimore, where the radio Mass broadcast on WBAL-AM originates. "He was somewhat shy, but in a religious community, he was open, warm and engaging. He was a humble man and a man of great wisdom."
Father Petrik had an affinity for languages and studied Spanish in Puerto Rico in the middle 1980s before being named pastor and superior at Holy Name Roman Catholic Church in Camden, N.J. He was rector at Rockville's Georgetown Preparatory School for two years before returning to Baltimore in 1994 as the religious superior at St. Ignatius Church, Calvert and Madison streets. He also served as his order's provincial assistant for pastoral ministries.
Last year he was named religious superior of the five priests and two seminarians stationed at the Alberto Hurtado House on South Broadway.
"He came down to help this new community and was there to help us discern our common mission," said the Rev. Brendan Hurley, a Jesuit priest at the Hurtado House. "As our superior, he made a point of praying for each of us in his care."
Father Petrik regularly celebrated Mass at the Carmelite Monastery on Dulaney Valley Road and for the Radio Mass of Baltimore, where he was a board member.
"His homilies were to the point, something to take away and live by," said Mary A. Thomas, Radio Mass of Baltimore coordinator and an Otterbein resident. "He always arrived so well-prepared, all his words laid out. He was a deeply spiritual man who exuded faith. And he frequently wove his own family members into what he had to say."
Father Petrik will lie in state from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow at St. Ignatius Church, 740 Calvert St. A Mass of Christian burial will follow at 7:30 p.m.
Survivors include a brother, Gerard Petrik of Towson; a sister, Mary Anne Petrik, of Lutherville; two nephews; and a niece.