Depaul Genska, OFM
1931 – 2010
Fr. Depaul Genska, OFM, was born on May 5, 1931 in Syracuse, N.Y., and was baptized George. He enrolled in St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., in 1947, where he graduated from high school in 1949 and completed the first two years of college.
He was received into the Order in 1951 at St. Bonaventure Church in Paterson, N.J., receiving the name Depaul Anthony. He professed first vows there one year later. In 1955, he professed solemn vows at Christ the King Seminary in Allegany. He was ordained three years later at Mount St. Sepulchre, the Franciscan Monastery, in Washington.
Following ordination, Fr. Depaul participated in the “fifth year” pastoral internship program at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston with the rest of his class. He then entered parish ministry, serving as assistant pastor at St. Leo’s Parish in East Paterson, N.J., from 1959 to 1963, then at St. Anne’s Parish in Fair Lawn, N.J., from 1963 to 1966. He then served as director of the CCD Center at St. Anthony’s Guild in Paterson, N.J. In 1970, Fr. Depaul joined the retreat team ministry at Christ House, Lafayette, N.J., where he also served as vicar of the friary community.
As a result of a chance encounter in New York City in 1972, he became increasingly drawn into the work that was to become his life’s passion: ministering to persons involved in prostitution. In 1978, Fr. Depaul took a two-year sabbatical at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, earning a master of theological studies degree in 1980. For his thesis, he designed a course on the dynamics of heterosexual prostitution and strategies for ministering to people engaged in that industry. While at the CTU, Fr. Depaul met Edwina Gateley, a lay missionary from England. Edwina came to share Fr. Depaul’s deep concern for persons engaged in prostitution and determined to devote her life to that ministry. In 1983, he collaborated with her in founding Genesis House — a house of hospitality and nurturing for women involved in prostitution, which provided an environment where they could make a truly free choice regarding their lifestyle. Tens of thousands of women who wanted to leave a life of prostitution received Genesis House holistic services and support until it closed in 2007.
Chicago remained the scene of Fr. Depaul’s ministry for the rest of his active life. He supported himself by working on the staff of the Catholic Theological Union as secretary for the directors of the pastoral studies degree programs and part-time instructor. He became very involved in the life of the CTU and was a highly regarded member of the staff. He also remained deeply committed to his street ministry, going out several nights a week “on the stroll” through city neighborhoods known to have prostitution activity simply to establish a caring human contact with these women and sometimes their male customers, perhaps eventually leading to explicit ministry to them. His engagement with these marginalized women also led him to be highly committed to a number of other peace and justice issues.
In 2005, Fr. Depaul moved to St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, retiring there several months later at St. Anthony Residence. He transferred to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J., in 2006, where he tried to be as active as possible, maintaining ties with his network of collaborators and keeping up on social justice issues.
He died on Sept. 13, 2010 at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood. Fr. Depaul was 79 years old, a professed friar for 58 years and a priest for 52 years.