Elzear Chronik, OFM
1887 – 1978
Br. Elzear Chronik, OFM, one of 15 children, was born in Birawa in Silesia — a part of Germany at the time — on Nov. 9, 1887. At the age of 14, he went to work in a locomotive shop in Regensburg as an apprentice mechanic. After qualifying as a journeyman in 1906, he entered military service. After four years with the cavalry, he returned to the Rhineland where he worked repairing locomotives.
When he was 26, Br. Elzear met a missionary from Trinidad who invited him to work with him in the Caribbean. He went to Tuna Puna in Trinidad where he met the Benedictine monks. During World War I, he was interned as an enemy national by the British.
After the war, he joined the Franciscans in Saxony as a tertiary brother with the Holy Cross Province. Fr. Mathias Faust, OFM, invited Br. Elzear to come to America, and he was received into Holy Name Province’s novitiate on Aug. 21, 1924. He professed temporary vows Aug. 24, 1925, and professed his solemn vows Aug. 25, 1928.
During his 54 years as a friar, Br. Elzear served in most of the larger friaries of the Province and worked as a plumber, porter, tailor, sacristan and maintenance man. Most of his active years were devoted to cooking.
Br. Elzear loved gardening, and his favored crop was garlic, which he believed possessed curative powers. His approach to Franciscan life was simple: “If you love and serve God, you will be happy whether you are a priest or a brother. Stick to your three vows and your three meals a day.”
He died at St. Bonaventure College in Allegany, N.Y., on July 15, 1978. He was 90 years old and a professed friar for almost 53 years.