atrick Gregorek, MCAS ’19, died suddenly in his Seekonk, Mass. home on March 24, a month shy of his 22nd birthday.
Joshua Spina-Bett, BC ’18, noted that love defined Gregorek as a person: He loved his family, his friends, he loved his classes, and he loved to run. The vigil held for him as part of a candlelight mass Monday night was packed with members of the Boston College community who mourned Gregorek’s death and celebrated the light he brought into the lives of countless community members.
The salutatorian of his high school class, Gregorek spent much of his time participating in the Liturgy Arts Group (LAG), where he performed as a tenor in the choir, and Boston College’s Sons of St. Patrick—a society of “Catholic men dedicated to fostering a community of virtue, character, and faith amongst our peers and surrounding society.”
“Pat ingrained himself very perfectly into [LAG],” said Molly Smith, president of LAG, a singer in the choir, and CSON ’19. “He just loved LAG. LAG is like this special community, we always say, where everyone comes as they are. It’s this very accepting group filled with love and I think it brought him a lot of joy and peace to find a group like that on campus.
“He was so inclusive, it was something indescribable about him that was just so beautiful.”
Smith and Steve Saville—a pianist in LAG and CSOM ’20—noted that whenever Gregorek sang, his voice stood out from everyone else’s during performances in the basement of St. Ignatius Church. Gregorek was LAG’s only tenor who performed regularly in St. Ignatius, meaning that, when he sang, in a way, he was on his own. But he never backed down from the challenge.
“Every Sunday whenever we would break out into four parts, his tenor voice would pierce through the air,” Smith said. “Every time I was like, ‘Oh, Pat got his notes—he’s got it all together!”
“Pat was louder than everyone else and everyone else was sitting, head in the book, trying not to be too loud or embarass themselves and Pat’s just sitting up straight singing along,” Saville said.
But he didn’t just shine during performances—what stood out the most to Smith and Saville was how magnetic Gregorek’s personality was. Even though it had been just a few months, Smith said there were plenty of freshmen in LAG who found themselves drawn to Gregorek’s humor and dedication.
Every year, LAG goes to Cape Cod as a part of a team-building retreat. Saville said that reflection times on those trips were some of the most memorable moments he got to spend with Gregorek.
“That was one of the environments where I really saw Pat and his personality really shine through, because especially in a reflective space he just turns it on, and you really see how charismatic and caring he is,” Saville said.
“I think in life, if you’re lucky, you’ll meet some of those people who just really put you at ease, and I’m not quite sure if it was his humor or the intentionality he would bring to a conversation or some combination of a lot of things. But when you’re with Pat, you know Pat was paying attention to you, Pat was caring about you and for you. He was just a really special guy to be around.”
is brothers at Sons of St. Patrick concurred. John Daniell, BC ’17, met Gregorek for the first time at LAG rehearsal before getting to know him even better as the two of them participated LAG and Sons of St. Patrick together. Spina-Bett, after transferring to BC, met Daniell and Gregorek right around the same time, and the three became close friends. Daniell stayed with Gregorek in the summer of 2016 for an internship, and the two were joined by Spina-Bett and a few others for Fourth of July festivities. The group saw what Daniell called “the greatest sunset of our lives” and went boating the following day—Spina-Bett calls the experience one of the highlights of his life.
“During the stay, of course, Pat slept on an air mattress while his friends got beds,” Daniell said in an email. “That’s who he was, always looking out for others.
“After graduating, Pat was one of the best about texting and keeping in touch. He always checked in to see how everyone else was doing, even if he himself was stressed about something else. … I can’t believe I will never hear his laugh again. It was so resonant and could light up a room.”
Spina-Bett said that he would always remember how Gregorek threw himself into his classes, friendships, and clubs. Spina-Bett remembered that, while on retreat with LAG, he stood up and shared his struggles with his invisible disability: dyslexia. The moment was important on its own, but what Spina-Bett remembers more about the experience is the letter Gregorek wrote him afterward.
“He wrote me a really beautiful note and basically said, ‘I know what it’s like to struggle, and thank you for being open about yours,’” Spina-Bett said.
“What I’ll never forget about him is his smile, his laugh, his ability to just exude light, his goals to live out the mission of Christ as best as he could each day. He was just always there to talk, always there to listen, and I hope I did that for him as well. He really was just someone who could make you laugh and make you feel very important.”
atana J. DeLong-Bas, associate professor of the practice in the Theology Department, said that she was always impressed by Gregorek’s openness. Since Gregorek was a devout Catholic, she was impressed that Gregorek entered her class—“Women and Gender in Islam”—which was one that Gregorek confessed to her took him out of his comfort zone. Although he hadn’t had an opportunity to engage with religions outside the one he believed in, he said, he wanted to gain new experience—gain new knowledge that he couldn’t find in the confines of the theology with which he was already familiar.
“He hadn’t really had the opportunity to engage the religious ‘other’ growing up,” DeLong-Bas said. “This class provided the space for doing that, both through the material and, more importantly, through his classmates. Whatever fears or concerns he had, he approached the class with respect and a willingness to listen and think deeply. I think he learned a lot about valuing other perspectives and about himself in that course. It took courage to stick with it.”
Spina-Bett remembered what it was like to watch Gregorek take that class. He took pride in the fact that he was learning so many new things about a culture that was essentially brand new to him. Spina-Bett said his passion for theology showed through more during that semester than ever.
But ultimately what impressed DeLong-Bas the most was not just his dedication to her class, but his positivity.
“He always brought a smile and personal warmth to class,” she said. “I think that reflected the values he embodied: loving other people, respecting human dignity, wanting to encourage others, reaching out whenever he saw someone hurting—all of that while he struggled with his own anxiety and fear of not being accepted by his peers. Whatever he was feeling inside, he always brought the sunshine with him.
“I will miss his gentle presence.”
irsten Morro, vice president of BC Club Running and CSON ’19, met Gregorek during their freshman year while they lived in Fitzpatrick Hall together, and while enrolled in the same small Spanish class.
Gregorek’s commitment to his faith stood out to Morro, who described his understanding of his own religious identity “awesome.” She said she believed it played a large part in the advice he’d give out to his classmates and was directly linked to his ability to listen to people with passion—Spina-Bett and Smith both said that they didn’t know anybody who lived in the present quite like Gregorek did.
In their second semester together, Morro and Gregorek became even closer when they joined WeRunBC—the predecessor to BC Club Running and, at the time, BC’s unofficial running club—together. Morro confessed to Gregorek that she was afraid to run alone, and Gregorek immediately offered to go with her.
“He was always willing to go above and beyond for his friends and was the biggest supporter of anything that his friends found important,” she said. “We went to practice together every day, and he immediately won the hearts of all of the members of the club.”
Tina LaRitz, president of BC Club Running and MCAS ’19, met Gregorek when he and Morro joined running club their freshman year. She found him easy to talk to—an invaluable resource to guide her through some of the nervousness inherent to freshman year.
But the moment that stood out to her most of the many she spent with Gregorek over the years had nothing to do with running.
“I had a conversation with Pat at the job fair in Conte Forum our junior year that I think about often,” LaRitz said in an email to The Heights. “We both found ourselves in the same line waiting to talk to a representative from an economic consulting firm. I immediately felt comforted by the sight of Pat’s familiar face. I could tell he was just as overwhelmed as I was, faced with the prospects of determining our futures.
“Over the course of our conversation—which ranged from the mundane topic of our economics electives to reflections on our faith—I felt such deep relief that someone else was feeling the same as I was and was willing to talk about it.”
ndrew Craig, BC ’16 and STM ’19, met Gregorek during Craig’s junior year—Gregorek’s freshman year—and was constantly entertaining Gregorek’s “interesting, sometimes quirky questions.”
“One of my favorite memories with Pat was when he suddenly wanted to jog a couple of miles to a small donut shop,” Craig said in an email. “We got lost along the way, but the entire trek we talked. We talked about movies, life, philosophy, and jokes. I can’t remember the donut, but I do remember us all smiling, sweaty as we sat down at a tiny diner table eating and talking.
“No words could ever fully describe Pat, but when I think of the Pat I came to know and love, I think of a man who was open to everyone, loving, faithful, hilarious, and curious about everything.”
Daniell and Smith agreed—the positivity Gregorek exuded was exactly what made him so remarkable to the community he built up around himself.
“When someone passes there is often a tendency to romanticize the deceased, but I am being completely honest when I say that I never heard him say a malicious word about anyone,” Daniell said. “He made me laugh harder than anyone. He gave the best hugs. There was never a conversation that he didn’t end by saying, ‘I love you, brother.’ He brought so much life to everyone else around him.”
“He always had a smile on his face,” Smith said. “Whatever I was feeling that day, whenever I ran into him it was always such a blessing, because he was just so happy. He just gave off this effervescent joy that just couldn’t be contained.”
Gregorek’s funeral mass will be celebrated on Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Taunton Avenue, Seekonk, according to the obituary released by Gregorek’s family. He will be buried in St. Francis Cemetery in Taunton, Mass.
A wake will be held on Monday from 4 to 8 p.m. in the Perry-McStay funeral home at 2555 Pawtucket Avenue, East Providence, R.I.
In lieu of flowers, Gregorek’s family has asked that donations be made to Boston College’s The Liturgy Arts Group c/o Campus Ministry, McElroy 233, 140 Commonwealth Ave, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467.
Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Joy Moore announced in an email that BC will provide transportation to the services for students who would like to attend. Students who would like a seat on the bus should email [email protected] by 10 a.m. today.
Condolences may be sent to his parents, John and Christine Gregorek, at 350 Brown Avenue, Seekonk, MA 02771.
Featured Image Courtesy of The Sun Chronicle