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Archdiocesan Priest, Msgr. R. George Sarauskas, Dies

Sarauskas was a retired archdiocesan priest, former pastor of St. Mary Parish in Riverside

Chicago (July 7, 2022) – Msgr. R. George Sarauskas, former pastor of St. Mary Parish in Riverside, passed away Saturday, June 25, 2022. He was 77 years old.

Sarauskas was born on April 2, 1945, in Bavaria, Germany. He attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago and the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein. He also earned a Master of Public Administration at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 9, 1973, by Cardinal John Cody, and celebrated his first solemn Mass on May 13 of the same year at St. Christopher Parish in Midlothian.

Sarauskas served the people of the archdiocese in a variety of roles: He started as assistant pastor at St. Athanasius Parish in Evanston. Later he served as associate pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Winnetka, St. Francis Xavier Parish in La Grange and Holy Ghost Parish in South Holland. In the late 1980s, Sarauskas was appointed director of research and planning, and from 1984 to 1990 he was also director of the Lithuanian Apostolate. In 2004, Sarauskas became pastor of St. Mary Parish in Riverside serving the community for seven years.

In addition, Sarauskas served as executive director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office to Aid the Catholic Church in Eastern, Central Europe and Soviet Union for 14 years in Washington, D.C., which Rev. Ed McLaughlin, pastor emeritus of St. Michael Parish in Orland Park, called “the pinnacle of his service to the Church.”

Msgr. Patrick Pollard, retired archdiocesan priest, remembered his friend as a great churchman who believed in the mission of the Church. “He wanted it to be alive and present to people all over the world,” Pollard said. “He helped the bishops of dioceses in Eastern Europe start up their dioceses after the fall of communism.” 

James H. O'Beirne worked at the Office to Aid the Catholic Church in Eastern, Central Europe and Soviet Union with Sarauskas for 12 years. “I believe that George saw the hand of God in the events and decisions that brought him to this critical position,” O’Beirne said. “The danger and the hardships endured by his family, the anxieties of life in a new country, his pursuit of excellence in everything he undertook, but most of all his discernment of a call to the priesthood, all coalesced in his commitment to pour himself out in the performance of his duties, while retaining a genuine sense of humility in having been chosen to do so.” 

As O'Beirne reflected on Sarauskas’ approach in leading the effort of the office, he described it as sophisticated as well as sensitive. “In interacting with church leaders in the region, he was especially mindful that they had suffered greatly,” O'Beirne said. “He understood that the suffering had produced lasting harm in the body of Christ, and that the Church leaders in Eastern, Central Europe and Soviet Union were to be treated with the respect and dignity befitting their humanity and their offices in the Church.” O'Beirne added that their task was to coach where necessary rather than to instruct, to demonstrate rather than direct. “They often expressed how much of a blessing they found that approach to be.”

O'Beirne remembered his former colleague as a profoundly kind man with a sense of wonder and a love of the good, the true and the beautiful. “He would rejoice in the good fortune of others and empathize in their sorrows.”

Visitation hours will be held at 9:30 to 11 a.m. on July 11, 2022, at Incarnation Church, 5757 W. 127th Street in Crestwood. The funeral Mass will follow at 11 a.m. and Pollard will be the homilist. Interment will take place at St. Casimir Lithuanian Cemetery in Chicago.