August 4, 2021 – Fr. Gerald T. Huyett, SJ, was born on June 9, 1942, in Philadelphia, Pa., one of two sons of George H. Huyett and Mary V. (Smith) Huyett. He attended St. Joseph’s Preparatory School (1956-1960) and St. Joseph’s College in Philadelphia (1960-1961). In 1961, he entered the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, Pa., where he pronounced his first vows in 1963. In 1967 he completed his undergraduate degree, majoring in French, followed by a master’s degree in applied linguistics at Laval University, Quebec (1966-1969). During theological studies at Woodstock College in MD (1970-1974), he was ordained a priest (1973) at the Cathedral of Mary our Queen in Baltimore.
From 1974-1976, Fr. Huyett studied at the New School, N.Y., in its Urban Studies and Sociology department. The bulk of his life’s many ministries focused on the needs of underserved and at-risk youth and young adults in the New York City area. After serving as the director of the Catholic Career Council (1977-1978) and then as director of the New York Archdiocese’s Youth Employment program (1978-1983), he worked at the Medical Arts Hospital in New York, where his specialty was addiction psychotherapy. Fr. Huyett then spent the next seven years (1983-1990) in educational programs for refugees with the U.S. Catholic Conference. His last, and perhaps his most significant ministry (1990-2021), was spent serving as an instructor in language skills and counseling with immigrant and refugee students at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY.
No resume or summary of Fr. Huyett’s various apostolates could capture the piety this man as he cared for so many people in need, especially his students. Throughout the pandemic he counseled countless numbers of students who were burdened by loss of work, health problems, psychological stress, and life in crowded urban apartments. In the Carroll Street Community in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where Fr. Huyett lived from 2017 until his death, he often shared heart-wrenching stories of the difficulties his students experienced. The vast majority of them were immigrants or refugees. Fr. Huyett’s name was passed on to fellow students because they knew that he would make himself available to them. Indeed, he was ceaseless in his efforts to help and assisted them in whatever way he could, often staying up late into the night to support students in crisis. He listened to their stories, helped them sort through their problems, and pointed them towards the help they needed.
Fr. Huyett’s kindness and efforts extended also to his brother Jesuits in the Carroll Street Community. During the pandemic he grocery shopped for them on a daily basis. The kitchen was favorite territory and every night he would load the dishwasher, run it, and then come back later in the evening to empty it and tidy up the kitchen area for the next day.
At the community’s annual Christmas gatherings, he led everyone in writing and reciting limericks which brought much joy to all. Fr. Huyett’s workplace, in close proximity to the World Trade Center after 9/11, led to his developing, like many others, an immunocompromising disease for which he was receiving treatment at the time of his death.
Although fully vaccinated, Fr. Huyett contracted the coronavirus while visiting his brother near Tampa, Fla. He died on July 31st, 2021. Fr. Huyett is survived by his beloved brother, Rick and his wife, Donna, a close cousin, Joanne Campanile, and many other family members. We mourn the passing of Fr. Huyett in the Lord whose life was one of dedication and service to God’s people for the greater glory of God.