Obituary | Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo

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Bp. DiLorenzo

RICHMOND, Va. — Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond, Va., died at St. Mary's Hospital in Richmond Aug. 17 from heart and kidney failure. He was 75.

A funeral Mass for the bishop was celebrated Aug. 25 followed by entombment in the Cathedral Crypt.

A native of Philadelphia, he was named the 12th bishop of Richmond by St. John Paul II March 31, 2004. Before he was appointed to the Virginia diocese, he was the bishop of Honolulu. He also was a former auxiliary bishop in Scranton, Pa.

Bishop DiLorenzo was one of the first to call for peace during the chaos- and hate-filled weekend in Charlottesville, when white supremacists holding a rally clashed with counterprotesters Aug. 11 and 12. The events led to the deaths of three people and injuries to more than 19 others. His first statement Aug. 11 was followed by a second one the next day.

Born April 15, 1942, Francis Xavier DiLorenzo was the son of an Italian-American butcher and a homemaker, Samuel and Anita Porrino DiLorenzo. He was the oldest of three children born to the couple. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1968 and served in pastoral and educational assignments until 1971.

In Rome, he earned a licentiate in sacred theology in 1973 from the Academia Alphonsiana and a doctorate in sacred theology in 1975 from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Then-Father DiLorenzo served as chaplain and instructor in theology at St. Pius X High School, Pottstown, Pa., from 1975 to 1977. In 1977, he was appointed chaplain and associate professor of moral theology at Immaculata College.

In 1983, he became vice rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, becoming rector two years later. In 1988, he was named auxiliary bishop of Scranton.

He was appointed apostolic administrator of Honolulu Oct. 12, 1993, when Bishop Joseph A. Ferrario, head of the diocese since 1982, retired for health reasons. On Oct. 4 1994, he became the bishop of Honolulu.

At his Mass of installation to head the Richmond Diocese, Bishop DiLorenzo told the 1,200 people in the congregation that he saw his role as servant leader in which he has to preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus.

"As a follower of Jesus and a bishop in His Church, I should imitate His example and be a servant leader," he said.

A moral theologian and a lover of history, Bishop DiLorenzo was known for his humility, his booming voice — he frequently broke into song — and his concern for those less fortunate, which he addressed especially through his interest in Catholic schools and lay Catholic formation.

During his tenure, vocations to the priesthood were a high priority. By the time of his death he had ordained 22 men to the priesthood. Enrollment in seminary had increased two-and-a-half-fold, from nine men enrolled in seminary to 31.

He is widely credited with saving Catholic schools in the Richmond Diocese with the formation of the McMahon-Parater Foundation, whose mission is to strengthen schools by providing scholarships and financial assistance, as well as professional development.

On the national level over the years, he had been a member of the USCCB's Administrative Committee, Committee on Doctrine and Ad Hoc Committee on Bishops' Life and Ministry. He was chairman of the conference's Committee on Science and Human Values. He helped launch a series of teaching brochures on the relationship of science and religion and on bioethical issues such as genetic testing and screening of embryos. 

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