George Janvier brightened up a room with his smile and his positive outlook on life, and family, friends and students in his Bronx community and at Salesian High School in New Rochelle are remembering a “best friend and father figure,” who died Dec. 23 at age 41 due to Covid-19 complications.
“He always told me to do what makes you happy,” Chris Moronta, a junior at Salesian High School and parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Elmsford, told CNY. “He was always encouraging me to keep my faith up no matter what. We always have to keep our faith up no matter what God throws at us, no matter what life throws at us. You always have to stay happy because he was always happy no matter what was going on.
“He tried to show us life is really about how you handle it, it’s not about how hard it is or how you’re going to deal with it. It’s about the way you look at things. I think that’s going to stick with me for the rest of my life no matter what goes on. He was a best friend and father figure.”
Janvier became youth minister in the 2017-2018 school year at Salesian where he arranged school Masses, worship services and special religious events; coordinated retreats with other Salesian schools on the East Coast; and organized Salesian mission trips to Belle Glade, Fla. He also planned service opportunities for students, including volunteering at the Don Bosco Soup Kitchen in Port Chester and feeding the New York City homeless in the Midnight Run program.
“George was an inspiration to all,” said Thomas Siefring, a close friend of Janvier and a history teacher/coordinator of youth ministry at Salesian. “He took on every task that he was given with great pride. He was a wonderful example and a model for our young men and always stressed the importance of trusting in God, attending Mass, and having a conversation and praying to our God.”
Raised in the Bronx, Janvier was the husband of Joanna and father to Thomas and Jacob. Before arriving at Salesian, Janvier, who attended St. Francis College in Brooklyn, was technology coordinator at Our Lady of Grace School in the Bronx, where he attended school as a student. He remained a basketball coach at Our Lady of Grace until his death.
Janvier also served in the Bronx as choir director at Mount St. Michael Academy and Nativity of Our Blessed Lady parish, and director of youth and young adult ministry at the parish of St. Frances of Rome, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony and Our Lady of Grace. A Funeral Mass was celebrated Jan. 9 at St. Frances of Rome.
Our Lady of Grace principal Rich Helmich remembered Janvier as a friend and father figure to students and athletes, recalling Janvier bringing more than a carload of players to games and spending part of halftime figuring the best route to drive his players home.
“His impact was hard to measure,” Helmrich said. “It was all about service, giving up his time for others.
“No matter what would go on during a day, once you saw George come into a room you knew you were in the presence of someone special.”