Jesuit Father Francis A. Prokes, was called to eternal life on January 22, 2019 at St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. He was ninety-five years old, a Jesuit for seventy years, and a priest for sixty-one years.
Born in Jackson, Minnesota on February 3, 1923, Fr. Prokes attended grade school and high school in Jackson and St. John’s Prep in Collegeville, Minnesota. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1948, he entered the Society at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Missouri on August 15, 1948. Fr. Prokes had the usual Jesuit course of studies at Saint Stanislaus Seminary, Saint Louis University, and St. Mary’s College. He was ordained on June 12, 1957, made tertianship in Decatur, Illinois 1958-1959, and pronounced his final vows on August 15, 1960.
Before entering the Society, Fr. Prokes earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. In the Society, Fr. Prokes earned a licentiate in sacred theology from Saint Louis University (1959). He then earned a master’s degree (1962) and a doctorate (1964) in architecture from Princeton University.
During regency, Fr. Prokes taught at Red Cloud Indian School (1953-1954). After his ordination, Fr. Prokes was a minister at Creighton University (1959-1960) and an associate pastor at the Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee (1960-1961). After earning his doctorate, Fr. Prokes moved to Detroit where he taught architecture at the University of Detroit (1965-1966) and was involved in urban renewal in the city (1966-1968).
In 1968, Fr. Prokes moved to the Regina Laudis Monastery in Bethlehem, Connecticut, where he began many years of ministry as an architectural consultant in the renewal of religious communities in accordance with Vatican II. In 1996 he was assigned to the Creighton University Jesuit Community, a base from which he carried on his pastoral ministry. For some years before failing health led to his moving to the St. Camillus Jesuit Community in 2016, Fr. Prokes was in residence with Promisek, a religious community near Bridgewater, Connecticut, for which he was providing pastoral service.
Fr. Prokes was a gifted Jesuit, a leader in his field. He is perhaps less well known to many Jesuits because he worked for so many years with other religious congregations. He will, however, be remembered by the many, many people he helped over the years.