1934 – 2009 (December 12)
John Philip Pejza was born in Neshkoro, Wisconsin, on August 5, 1934. In 1947, he and his parents Philip and Regina Pejza and his sister Mary Jean, who became a Sister of St. Joseph of Orange, moved to San Diego when Jack was almost a teenager. He attended St. Didacus junior high school and Saint Augustine High School. After graduation in 1952, he entered the novitiate and was professed in August 1953. Jack graduated from Villanova University in 1957, and after four years of theology at Augustinian College in Washington, D.C., he was ordained to the priesthood in 1961.
Father Pejza’s love for religious life and for the priesthood was evident to those who knew him. Although he spent most of his priesthood celebrating mass on Sundays at various parishes, most notably Saint Rita’s in San Diego and Saint Thomas Aquinas in Ojai, Father Jack was never assigned as a parish priest. He was an academician. From the time of his ordination he served in a variety of capacities, as teacher, administrator, business manager, board member, principal and president at five schools - including Malvern Prep in Pennsylvania, Central Catholic High School in Modesto, and Marian High School in San Diego. The lion share of his educational ministry was spent serving at Villanova Prep School in Ojai, and Saint Augustine High School in San Diego. In 1987 he earned a doctorate in education from the University of San Diego. He also served in various leadership roles within the Augustinian community. At the time of his death he was the director of the Augustinian Guild.
Jack was a person of many hobbies, including working on his family genealogy, an offshoot, most likely, of his lifelong keen interest in history. As a young Augustinian Jack wrote a number of historical treatises related to the Order. He loved gadgets, and was always on the cutting edge of radio and computer technology. Science was a major interest for him. He made sure, however, that his interests did not preclude him from volunteerism. He took an active role in the NCEA and was a loyal Rotarian, devoting much of his time to their good works.
Father John Philip Pejza suffered a heart attack in San Diego on December 12th and died soon thereafter. The wake was held at Saint Patrick’s Church, San Diego on Wednesday morning, December 16th, followed by the Mass of Resurrection. Burial was at Holy Cross Cemetery, San Diego.