ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Roy Gasnick, OFM, 81, a professed Franciscan friar for 60 years and a priest for 55, died July 24 at Bayfront Medical Center.
A wake will be held on July 29 from 9 to 10:15 a.m. at St. Bonaventure Church, 174 Ramsey St., Paterson, N.J. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated there at 10:15 a.m., with Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, as principal celebrant and homilist. Burial will follow at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa, N.J.
Born on Nov. 26, 1933 to Frank and Agnes Gasnick, Roy was baptized Robert at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Passaic, N.J. After attending the parish’s grammar school and then St. Leo Grammar School in East Paterson, N.J., he entered St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., in 1947, where he completed high school and the first two years of college.
Six years later, he was received into the Franciscan Order in Paterson, and professed his first vows in 1954. After studying philosophy and theology, he professed solemn vows in 1957 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1960.
After ordination, Roy taught English rhetoric, research and literature from 1961 to 1967 at St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y. While on campus, he also served as director of student activities and assistant director of the Third Order of St. Francis. He earned a master’s in English literature from the university in 1963.
As an activist in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s, he founded Action for Interracial Understanding with the Secular Franciscan Order and participated in the Aug. 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
In 1967, Roy relocated to St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City, where he served as provincial moderator of the Third Order until 1970. In 1969, he was appointed as the first director of communications for Holy Name Province and served in that capacity until 1985. He also worked as coordinator of research and planning for the Province from 1976 to 1979.
In 1985, Roy moved to Los Angeles, where he spent the next two years as vice president for resource development at the Franciscan Communications Center. Returning to the East Coast in 1987, Roy served for six years as spiritual assistant to the Secular Franciscan Order in the mid-South area of the Province while residing at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md.
In 1993, Roy was assigned as vicar at St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg and served in this capacity until 2005. He was also a staff member of the Franciscan Retreat Center in Tampa, Fla., and offered various other retreats and days of recollection.
He dedicated his life to communicating the Franciscan message to as wide an audience as possible. He wrote the now classic “The Francis Book,” “Francis of Assisi: The Song Goes On,” and “Serra: American Founding Father,” as well as other publications and numerous articles. He also authored two comic books: “Francis: Brother of the Universe” and “Mother Theresa of Calcutta.” Roy was instrumental in the issuing of a stamp honoring St. Francis in 1982 on the 800th anniversary of the saint’s birth.
Roy is survived by nephews Raymond Gasnick Jr., of Saddle Brook, N.J., and Jeffrey Gasnick of Wayne, N.J., as well as other nephews, nieces, great nieces and great nephews.
Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars — Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd St., New York, NY 10001-3202.
— Maria Hayes is communications director for Holy Name Province. Carolyn Croke provided research for this story.
- “My Franciscan Journey” by Fr. Roy Gasnick – February 2008, The Anthonian
- “North Jersey-bred Father Roy Gasnick, ‘Superhero,’ Dies” — July 29, 2015, Bergen-Record
- “St. Francis and Marvel Comics” — Dec. 23, 2009, HNP Today