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Ministered to Chicago’s Lithuanian Catholics for More Than 50 Years

Chicago, IL (May 30, 2007)—Fr. Anthony J. Zakarauskas, pastor emeritus of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish (Nativity BVM) on Chicago’s south side, died of a heart attack on Monday, May 28. He was 89 and living in retirement at his home near Marquette Park.

A Cicero native, Fr. Zakarauskas was born on July 3, 1917 and was baptized at St. Anthony Parish in Cicero just over three weeks later. Fr. Zakarauskas graduated from St. Anthony Elementary School, Quigley (North) Preparatory Seminary and, in 1941, from the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary.

Fluent in Lithuanian, Fr. Zakarauskas was ordained a priest on May 3, 1941, and celebrated his first solemn Mass the following day at St. Anthony Church. In July, 1941, his first assignment came as assistant pastor of Nativity BVM, a position he would hold for eight years. It marked the beginning of a twenty-five year association with the predominantly Lithuanian parish. In 1941, Fr. Zakarauskas also began a twenty-eight year career as a professor of religion, theology, Lithuanian and apologetics at Quigley Seminary, St. Casimir Academy, Maria High School and St. Casimir Junior College.

For two years beginning in July 1949, Fr. Zakarauskas served as assistant pastor of Holy Cross Parish and, between July 1951 and July 1956, served as assistant pastor of the now-closed St. George Parish. Both parishes had predominantly Lithuanian congregations. For ten years beginning in July 1956, Fr. Zakarauskas served as chaplain at the Sisters of St. Casimir Motherhouse on Marquette Rd. From March 1966 until July 1970, he then served as chaplain of Holy Cross Hospital on the city’s south side.

He was named pastor of Nativity BVM in July 1970, a position he would hold for seventeen years. While pastor, he started a parish orchestra and football program. On December 31, 1987, he retired and was named pastor emeritus. He then moved into his mother’s apartment where they lived together until the late 1990’s. She died in 2000 at age 104.

Visitation for Fr. Zakarauskas will be from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Thursday, May 31 at Nativity BVM Church, 6812 S. Washtenaw Ave., Chicago. At 10:30 a.m. on Friday, June 1, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, will preside over a funeral Mass for Fr. Zakarauskas at Nativity BVM Church. Interment will be at St. Casimir Cemetery, Chicago.

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