03 Dec 2019
Fr. Paul Grauls, SDB (1935-2019)
By Fr. Mike Mendl, SDB
Fr. Paul Grauls, SDB, died on Saturday morning, November 30, at Suncoast Care Center, a hospice, in Palm Harbor, Fla. He was 84 years old and had been a professed Salesian of Don Bosco for 66 years and a priest just short of 57 years.
Fr. Grauls was hospitalized at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg for pneumonia for a few days before transfer to hospice. He received Anointing of the Sick from Fr. James Horan, SDB, the night before he died.
Fr. Grauls was born in Etterbeek, a suburb of Brussels, Belgium, on June 27, 1935, the son of Peter and Augusta Van De Schoor Grauls. He was baptized the following day in the parish church.
Paul entered the Salesian seminary at Woluwe, Belgium, in 1947, and was admitted to the novitiate at Groot-Bijgaarden in August 1953. He made his first profession of vows on September 2, 1954, at Groot-Bijgaarden. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1957 to complete his philosophy studies at Don Bosco Seminary in Newton, N.J., graduating in 1958 with a B.A. He later earned an additional Bachelor’s degree in education at St. Joseph University in Moncton, N.B. (1965), an M.A. in history from Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. (1968), and an M.A. in guidance from New York University in New York City (1969), and a Ph.D. in education from SUNY Albany (1975).
His Master’s thesis at Seton Hall was entitled The Human Psychology of Charles Fourier: A Phenomenological Approach.
Fr. Paul studied theology at the Salesians’ St. Thomas Aquinas studentate in Oud-Heverlee, Belgium, affiliated with the University of Louvain (1956-1957, 1960-1963), and was ordained at Oud-Heverlee on December 8, 1962.
Fr. Paul taught at St. Patrick’s High School in Sherbrooke, Que. (1958-1960), and was prefect of studies there (1963-1965). One of his students, Fr. George Harkins, a Salesian now serving at Seminaire Salésien in Sherbrooke, recalls: “Fr. Paul Grauls taught me Latin in grade 11 at St. Patrick High School … in 1958-59. He was an excellent pedagogue, polite in manner and a big heart for young people. He always made me feel welcome and encouraged me to try the Salesian way of life. I joined and have never looked back. May he rest in peace.”
Fr. Paul was then assigned to Don Bosco Technical High School in Paterson, N.J. (1965-1975), as teacher and guidance counselor. At the same time he did much of the aforementioned academic work. For four years as consultant to the province director of education he undertook a major study of the New Rochelle Province’s works and its personnel in their demographic contexts (1975-1979), residing for a year at Don Bosco Seminary and three years at the Marian Shrine in Haverstraw, N.Y.
Fr. Paul was assistant pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Harlem, N.Y., from 1979 to 2003, and for another year at St. Joseph’s Church in Harlem. From 2004 until 2014 he was assistant pastor at the Church of the Nativity in Washington, D.C., where he was most fondly remembered by numerous parishioners. He was also vice director of the Salesian community of Washington (2005-2014).
Fr. Paul retired in 2014 to St. Philip the Apostle Residence in Tampa, where he did what he could to maintain contact with the students of Cristo Rey Tampa High School on campus. In his latter years in Washington and continuing in Tampa he labored to produce an English version of a graphic-arts (comics) life of St. John Bosco, Don Bosco, Friend of the Young, by his fellow Belgian Jijé (Joseph Gillain), finally completing the project in 2018. Shortly after, his health began to decline and he entered a nursing home.
Fr. Paul is survived by his nephew Luc Cosijns, his niece Isabelle Vandenbossche, and several other relatives: Vincent Van Horenbeke, Chantal Bourgeois, and Stephan Wilputte.
Fr. Paul’s funeral rites will be celebrated in both Tampa and Stony Point, N.Y.
At Mary Help of Christians Church in Tampa:
wake on Tuesday, December 3, at 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Mass on Wednesday, December 4, at 9:30 a.m.
At the Marian Shrine, 174 Filors Lane, Stony Point, N.Y.:
wake on Friday, December 6, at 2:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Mass of Christian Burial at 7:00 p.m.
He will be buried in the Salesian Cemetery in Goshen, N.Y., on Saturday, December 7, at 10:00 a.m.