Faculty, staff and alumni of the Department of Communication are mourning Father Joseph Hamernick, S.J., 82, who died Wednesday in Towson, Md., following a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Father Hamernick, a long-time faculty member of the Department of Communication, served the University of Scranton for 33 years. He held the position of department chairperson from 1984 to 1995.
Father Hamernick was born in Stamford, Connecticut, July 16, 1928, the son of Joseph M.H. Hamernick and Margaret O’Rourke. He attended high school and two years of collegiate classes with the Brothers of the Sacred Heart from 1942 to 1948 at St. Joseph’s House of Studies in Metuchen, N.J. His talents in piano, organ, and liturgical music were fostered there and he maintained them all his life.
He entered the Society of Jesus July 30, 1949. After completing the philosophy program at Loyola Seminary, a division of Fordham University at Shrub Oak, N.Y., he taught English and history at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia from 1956 until 1959.
After theological studies at Woodstock College in Maryland, he was ordained a priest June 17, 1962. He made his final profession in the Society at Wernersville on August 15, 1965. He also earned two bachelor’s degrees from Bellarmine College in Plattsburgh, New York, in 1955, and St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia in 1960.
Father Hamernick taught elocution and speech to Jesuit students at the novitiate in 1964-65 prior to starting a Master’s program in speech and drama at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. Upon receiving his MA degree in 1967, he began teaching at The University of Scranton.
He taught in the English department until Communication became an independent department in 1980. He became chairperson of the Department of Communication in 1984. His teaching and administrative work at the university continued until his retirement in 1996. Then for three years, he served as guestmaster welcoming visitors to the Scranton Jesuit community.
Health problems forced Father Hamernick’s retirement in 2000 and he moved to the St. Isaac Jogues Center in Wernersville. He remained there until 2003 when he moved to Stella Maris in Towson. He lived there, praying for the Church and the Society, until his death.
Viewing will be held Monday Feb. 14 at 9 a.m. at St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Church, 10800 Old Court Road, Woodstock, MD, 21163. The funeral Mass will follow at 10 a.m. Burial will take place after the funeral at Woodstock Cemetery.
Father Hamernick’s sister, Sister Joseph Monica, CSJ, of West Hartford, Conn., died in 2005.