Fr. Edmund Jurica, OSB

Fr. Edmund Jurica, OSB

Biology

Emeritus

Emeritus – Biology

Founder of the Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum

Father Edmund Jurica, O.S.B. was born in Cloverdale, IL on July 16,1900. His family moved to St. Procopius parish in Chicago where he attended the parish school. Father Edmund then came to Lisle to attend St. Procopius Academy (now Benet Academy) and St. Procopius College, which is now Benedictine University. Father Edmund professed his monastic vows on July 17, 1917 and was ordained to the priesthood on May 26, 1923. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Chicago in 1926.

In many ways, it is hard to talk about Fr. Edmund or Fr. Hilary separately as they worked together for so many years, sharing common goals of excellence for the school and their students. For over forty years Fr. Hilary and Fr. Edmund worked to develop the biology department at St. Procopius College. Fr. Edmund taught pre-med courses and for seven years he taught summer school classes in zoology at DePaul University. Frequent trips and exchanges with other institutions enabled the two brothers to accumulate a vast collection of plant and animal specimens which the brothers considered to be a teaching collection and not a museum. The Jurica brothers believed very strongly in the “hands-on” method of instruction and were dedicated to their students. Together they produced a series of biology charts and accompanying worksheets which are still in use in biology classrooms across the country. In a presentation to colleagues in 1938, Father Edmund expressed his feelings about the use of the animal collection. “Some call this collection a museum–that it absolutely is not…..The mounts are withdrawn from the cabinets and placed upon a table when the animals are studied…How inferior is the course in zoology if the students have no contact with at least a few real animals live or dead!”

Father Edmund was known as a dedicated and painstaking instructor by his students. In 1962 he received the St. Procopius College Distinguished Educator Award and the 1963 college yearbook was dedicated to him. The editors noted that Fr. Edmund was a most inspiring man who never turned away a student in need.

In addition to his classroom work and professional development, Fr. Edmund, along with Fr. Victor Laketek, O.S.B., conducted one of the largest bird-banding and classification stations in the United States during the 1930’s. In 1952, the observatory which was designed by Fr. Edmund and built by Brother Andrew Havlik, O.S.B. was opened on the campus. Fr. Edmund spent the last years of his life presiding over the development of the Jurica Museum as the Scholl Science Center was built.

Much saddened by the death of his brother in 1970, Father Edmund proudly presided over the dedication of the museum named after Father Hillary (and later himself as well) in the Scholl Science Center.

Father Edmund died on October 26, 1972.