Fr. August Kita, S.D.B. (1931-2008)
June 18, 2008
Fr. August J. Kita, S.D.B., died on June 12, 2008, at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, N.Y. He was 76 years old.
Fr. Kita, the son of Andrew and Agnes Burza Kita, was born on Aug. 9, 1931, in Bayonne, N.J., and within the month had been baptized at Bayonne's Polish national parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church. Proud of his Polish heritage, young Gus went to Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., which attracted Polish boys from all over the Northeast, as a boarding student in 1945. He was graduated in 1949 and entered the Salesian novitiate in Newton, N.J., that September-one of many dozens of priestly and religious vocations to emerge from Don Bosco Prep between 1915 and the present.
Fr. Kita made his first profession of vows as a Salesian in Newton on Sept. 8, 1950, and three years later was graduated from Don Bosco College in Newton with a bachelor's degree in philosophy. He was sent for his practical training to Don Bosco Tech in Paterson, N.J., for two years, followed by a year at Don Bosco Juniorate in Haverstraw, N.Y. Over the years he taught religion, English, and social studies.
In 1956 Fr. Kita went to the Salesian theological school at Aptos, Calif., to begin his theological studies. He was ordained there on June 4, 1960, and was immediately asked to do further studies in canon law at the Salesian Pontifical Athenaeum (now the Salesian Pontifical University) in Rome, where he earned a licentiate in 1962. Ten years later he also earned a master's in education at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J.
From 1962 to 1967 Fr. Kita was assigned to Archbishop Shaw H.S., which had just opened in Marrero, La. He was prefect of studies for two years, then director of religious activities for three years. In 1967 he was appointed director of Salesian Junior Seminary in Goshen, N.Y., where he was highly esteemed for his fatherliness to the high school seminarians. In 1972 he was transferred to Sacred Heart Juniorate and Novitiate in Ipswich, Mass., as director, again earning everyone's love with his own kindness and generosity.
Mary Help of Christians School in Tampa was his next assignment (1975-82), again as director. The president of one of the "auxiliary" groups that helped support Mary Help wrote in 1979 to Fr. Salvatore Isgro, the provincial, to "sing the praises" of Fr. Kita as "director, helper, friend and guide" to the group as well as to the young boys in need at the school. She noted his presence at their meetings and the thanks and love he radiated to them, as well as his grandfatherly manner with students.
After 15 consecutive years as a director, Fr. Kita was given a lighter responsibility in 1982 as province coordinator for the Salesian Cooperators; he was based at Don Bosco College, Newton. But he was called on to return as director to the Sacred Heart Center in Ipswich in 1985; the high school had closed, and it was now a retreat house. He continued in retreat work during two stints at the Don Bosco Retreat House in Haverstraw, N.Y. (1988-92, 1995-97).
Fr. Kita served as pastor of Holy Rosary and St. John Bosco Parishes in Birmingham, Ala., and as director of the Salesian community there from 1992 to 1995. It was at that time that his health began to fail. In 1997 he retired to Don Bosco Tech in Paterson. In March 1998 he had a heart operation from which he did not completely recover, and in the summer of 1999 he moved to the Salesian nursing home at Stony Point, N.Y. When that facility was closed in 2003, he moved to Northern Riverview Nursing Home in Haverstraw, where he resided until his death. During his final years of illness, Fr. Kita remained a part of the Salesian community of the Marian Shrine-Don Bosco Retreat House (Haverstraw-Stony Point) and was present as much as possible for celebrations, funerals, and retreats. He brought a special kind of joy to those occasions-at parties he was famous for his rendition of "Don't Fence Me In"-and was ever grateful for whatever help others provided to him and whatever others were doing in Salesian apostolic work.
While notifying the Salesians' of Fr. Kita's death, Fr. James Heuser, S.D.B., the provincial, singled out his simplicity of life, kindness of heart, love for Don Bosco, enthusiasm, and selfsacrifice. Fr. Richard McCormick, S.D.B., of the Marian Shrine Salesian community, a former provincial, described Fr. Kita as "a man whose heart was as big as his body" and who was "always energetically happy."
Fr. Kita is survived by two sisters, Eleanor Kita of Bayonne, N.J., and Rose Ormsby (and her husband John) of Bayonne, a brother-in-law, Eugene Melofchik (husband of his late sister Adele), his nieces Therese Romanelli of Mountainside, N.J., and Eileen O'Hagan of North Wales, Pa., and a nephew, Gregory Melofchik of Bayonne.
Fr. Kita was waked at the Marian Shrine chapel, 174 Filors Lane, Stony Point: Sunday, June 15 3:00 - 5:00 and 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.; wake service at 8:00 p.m.; Monday, June 16 2:00 - 5:00 and 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Mass of Christian Burial, Monday, June 16, 7:30 p.m. in the chapel. Fr. James Heuser presided, and Fr. Stephen Schenck, S.D.B., preached.
Burial: Salesian Cemetery, Goshen, N.Y., Tuesday, June 17, at 10:00 a.m.
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