Jesuit Brother Bernard L. Polinak died on Oct. 20, 2016 at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 94 years old.
Br. Polinak was born on April 19, 1922 in Cleveland. After six months of postulancy, Br. Polinak formally entered the novitiate at Milford on April 1, 1959, at the Milford Novitiate in Milford, Ohio. He took final vows on Feb. 2, 1970, at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan.
Throughout his Jesuit life, Br. Polinak was known for his desire to use resources properly. Often he closed blinds to conserve heat, turned off lights to save energy, recycled aluminum cans, or made sure that good food was not thrown out. His motto was “Waste not, want not.” The other motto he lived by was Ad majorem dei gloriam – which could be seen in his dedication to serving Jesus and others. No matter where he was — in the boiler room, community, or chapel — Br. Polinak was always zealous and steadfast in his care of the physical plant, but remained completely devoted to Christ. An example of this: when entering the chapel, he would genuflect before the altar — whether he was carrying a ladder or not!
Br. Polinak studied tool and die design at West Tech High School in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1938 until he entered the US Navy in 1941. As a Motor Machinist Mate First Class, he operated and maintained internal combustion engines and engine auxiliaries. He also operated machine tools. While in the Navy, he fought in the Battle of Omaha Beach. After his honorable discharge from the Navy, Br. Polinak attended night school to finish his high school degree (1947). He then took architectural drafting courses at the Cleveland Engineering Institute (1948-1949), adult education courses at St. John’s College in Cleveland (1952-1956), and while he was a Junior Brother at Milford, courses at Ohio Mechanics Institute in Cincinnati Ohio (1961-1963). Before entering the Society, he worked as a layout draftsman at General Motors from 1948-1958. While working at General Motors, Br. Polinak received a patent for a track shoe assembly (1959 US Patent 2,883,242). Beginning in 1950, Br. Polinak made a yearly retreat at St. Stanislaus (now Jesuit Retreat House) in Parma, Ohio.
After novitiate Br. Polinak moved to Colombiere Center, where he worked for almost 50 years. He was the chief engineer of the power plant (1963-1973), the superintendent of building and grounds (1973-1989), and the assistant to the the superintendent of building and grounds (1996-2015). He spent seven years at Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, as the assistant to the superintendent of building and grounds (1989-1996).