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James A. Wojcik, 78, was VA psychologist for 30 years and Benedictine monk

July 28, 1940 — Feb. 11, 2019

James A. Wojcik was "Dr. Wojcik" to the patients he helped for 30 years as a psychologist at the Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center and to the students in his psychology classes at Canisius College.

But as a monk in the Benedictine community, he was known as Brother Peter.

In both roles, he comforted, encouraged and assisted people, which he also did as a leader of bereavement and meditation groups at his church, St. Aidan's Episcopal Church in Alden.

"He was very kindhearted," said his wife of 17 years, Christine (Zdolinski) Wojcik. The couple married after meeting in a bereavement group they joined to cope with the deaths of their first spouses.

Dr. Wojcik died on Feb. 11, 2019, in his Marilla home after a short illness. He was 78.

He was born in Buffalo, the first child of Peter and Florence Lukaszczyk Wojcik and brother of Richard Wojcik and Barbara Leisner. He graduated from St. William's grade school in West Seneca and was a member of the Class of 1958 of Bishop Timon High School.

Although he stated in his high school yearbook that he planned to become a dentist, difficulty with math classes caused him to shift his career plans to psychology, said his son Gregory.

Dr. Wojcik earned his bachelor's degree from the University at Buffalo, and his master's and doctoral degrees from its School of Psychology.

In 1964, he married Euphemia "Fay" Putrillo. They moved to Marilla in 1972.

Dr. Wojcik started work as a psychologist at the Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Aug. 8, 1971. He retired from the VA on June 30, 2000.

In 1999, his wife died. While participating in a bereavement support group at his church, he met Christine Zdolinski, who was also widowed. They married on Jan. 12, 2002.

As Brother Peter, he was a Benedictine monk who worked with St. Simon's Episcopal Church and its Genesis Center on Seneca Street in South Buffalo. The Genesis Center provides hot meals, a food pantry and mental health assistance. "They work within their communities," said his wife. Unlike Catholic monks, Benedictine monks may marry and have families.

Dr. Wojcik was extremely active in St. Aidan's Church in Alden, where he was was a chalicist, or lay Eucharistic minister. He was also a facilitator of the church's bereavement support group and meditation group.

He enjoyed oil painting on canvas, choosing many different subjects but focusing on people, his wife said. Most of his creations became gifts to people, she said.

Dr. Wojcik also painted the Stations of the Cross that are displayed at St. Aidan's.

Five years age, Dr. Wojcik helped found the pet food cupboard at St. Aidan's, which helps people in need feed their companions. "He was an animal lover," said his wife. "We have two rescue dogs."

He also helped establish and remained active in the church's Anonymous Samaritan group, which assists neighbors after house fires, significant medical expenses and other serious losses.

Dr. Wojcik collected all kinds of books, and also taxidermy, although he was not a hunter, his wife said. He had done some taxidermy of smaller animals, but also purchased and displayed larger wild trophies, she said.

"He just started collecting them," said Mrs. Wojcik. "It's quite interesting. I really wonder if he thought maybe he was just giving them a good home."

Besides his wife, Christine (Zdolinski) Wojcik, and his son Gregory, Dr. Wojcik is survived by another son, Daniel Wojcik; two daughters, Susan Karalus and Lisa Panek; a brother, Richard Wojcik; a sister, Barbara Leisner; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. March 2 in St. Aidan's Episcopal Church, 13021 W. Main St., Alden.

Memorials may be made to St. Aidan's Episcopal Church or St. Aidan's Pet Food Cupboard.

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