Joseph H. Penkaul
Brigadier General (Chaplain), United States Air Force
(BRIGAFDIER GENERAL) JOSEPH H. PENKAUL
Retired March 21, 1996 - Died Sep. 2, 2008.
Chaplain (Brigadier General) Joseph H. Penkaul was the mobilization assistant to the Chief of Air Force Chaplains, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. He advised the Chief of Chaplains in directing and maintaining a trained, equipped and professional chaplain service in the Reserve forces.
Chaplain Penkaul is a native of Buffalo, New York. He enlisted in the Army in April 1958. After being discharged in January 1961, he attended St. John Vianney Seminary in East Aurora, New York, and Niagara University, Niagara Falls, New York. Chaplain Penkaul was commissioned as a Chaplain in the Army Reserve in 1970 and then transferred to the Air Force Reserve in 1973.
Chaplain Penkaul was ordained in 1968 as a priest for the diocese of Buffalo, New York, where he served as a parish priest, high school principal, and a chaplain at Attica Correctional Facility, Attica, New York, for 12 years. He is now pastor of three parishes in New York.
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS AND ASSOCIATIONS
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
The Rev. Joseph H. Penkaul, a longtime Air Force Reserve chaplain who presided at funerals for some of Western New York’s fallen soldiers, died Tuesday in Millard Fillmore Hospital after suffering a stroke. He was 69.
Father Penkaul was pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church on Losson Road in Cheektowaga since 1996 and was called upon to offer words of wisdom and comfort at the 2003 funeral of Marine Corporal Eric J. Orlowski, the first Western New Yorker killed in the war in Iraq.
He also presided at the December 2004 funeral of Army Sergeant Cari Anne Gasiewicz.
In 1994, Father Penkaul was promoted to the highest rank, Brigadier General, a chaplain can achieve in the Air Force Reserve Chaplaincy.
He served as chaplain in Korea, Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Father Penkaul had questioned the U. S. invasion of Iraq, but never in his funeral remarks, because he was concerned about how it would be received by military personnel and their grieving families, both of whom he respected and admired.
He acknowledged in a May 2004 interview with The Buffalo News the difficulty of preaching under those circumstances.
“There is the hesitancy about whether we are doing the right thing and if it’s worth it that these young men and women are in Iraq,” he said. “It’s hard to preach that way, because some people think that you aren’t supporting the government, that you are contrary to what everyone else feels. “When [Cpl. Orlowski] was killed, some asked why I didn’t speak out against the war,” he added. “It’s not that I was for the war — but I found it hard to say anything that would cause more hurt at a service, especially one where there were a lot of military. It’s a time to honor the person who died and comfort those suffering his loss.”
A Buffalo native, Father Penkaul was a graduate of Diocesan Preparatory Seminary and St. John Vianney Seminary. He received a master’s degree in education from Canisius College and a certificate in secondary school administration and supervision from Niagara University.
He was ordained to the priesthood in 1968 and served briefly at St. John of the Cross Church in Whitesville and St. John the Baptist Church in Lockport before moving into education.
Father Penkaul was on the faculty of Notre Dame High School in Batavia from 1971 to 1974, when he became assistant principal of Bishop Turner High School. In 1977, he was named principal of Baker-Victory High School in Lackawanna.
He served as chaplain at Attica Correctional Facility from 1979 to 1991. He was pastor of several parishes in Allegany County from 1991 to 1996, when he was appointed to the post at St. Philip.
“He was a real people’s priest,” said the Rev. Paul Sabo, a friend and seminary classmate. “He was out working, supporting, whatever could be done, no matter what his health condition was.”
Survivors include a sister, Jacqueline Ann Woloszyn.
Bishop Edward U. Kmiec will celebrate a Mass
of Christian Burial at 10:30 a. m. Friday in St. Philip the Apostle Church,
950 Losson Road, Cheektowaga.
Posted: 25 February 2009 Updated: 18 August 2010
Photo By Holly, February 2009