I recently learned that Fr. Dominic Rodighiero, C.S., pastor of St. Anthony of Padua in Everett, Massachusetts passed away last summer. He died of complications from prostate cancer in his native Italy.
This sad event came to light when trying to make arrangements to reconnect with him. Fr. Dominic had been my pastor as we had lived in the area some years back and frequently attended the Italian Mass.
Fr. Dominic was happy to have "two theologians", as he referred to my wife and I, in his parish. He was especially happy to learn of my background in Italian and Latin. He proudly showed me his Italian breviary in the course of one of our conversations and suggested we should pray some parts of the office in Italian if I had time.
We eventually moved away from the area. During that time, there were occasional plans to swing by the parish and meet up with Fr. Dominic, however, the mode and obligations of daily life often proved irreconcilable to such designs.
Fr. Dominic was one of those rare priest and after you have met him and heard his story, you understand why Vatican II, its documents, reforms, and the liturgy promulgated in its name have such staunch defenders, especially in the Italian church. Dominic's orthodoxy never waivered in or out of the pulpit. He never toyed with the Missal of Paul VI, sticking to the text, and never paid heed to the half-baked attempts at displacing the reformed liturgy of the hours with fashionable post-modern Western imitations. He never lost the flame of missionary zeal and could comfortably, and credibly, speak of doctrine, theological and social.
One conversation with him summarized the perspective of many educated Italian clergy regarding Catholicism. Holding up the breviary (the Italian edition) he said, "I see all these people who come into church, light a candles and rub the feet of a statue and that is their religion. That might be there religion, but it is not my religion. (Waiving the breviary) This, this is where you can find my religion, not at the feet of statues."
Fr. Dominic was one of those exemplars of Vatican II priests who make you realize if the Roman Church could have had a generation composed largely of men of their caliber, its recent history, or our at least our recent experience of it, could have been different.
The man was a fine pastor and is truly missed, especially by those of us who, in retrospect, kept missing the opportunity to say goodbye.