Winnebago County, Illinois
The Rev. Anthony V. Marchesano
One of the most powerful influences for good in this city is lost in the passing of the Rev. Fr. Anthony V. Marchesano, pastor of St. Anthony's of Padua Roman Catholic church of South Rockford. The importance and effectiveness of his work for 20 years in this field has been hailed with appreciative commendation by local residents of every shade of religious belief. He truly was the shepherd of his flock, sharing their joys and sorrows and leading them along the paths to righteousness and good citizenship with a sincerity and devotion that bespoke for him higher honors than this world can bestow. Several years ago, during a winter when work was scarce and many members of his parish, strangers in a new land, were in want, Father Marchesano expended all his own ready means and borrowed several hundreds of dollars at a local bank that he might further relieve the needy. The writer of these lines witnessed the payment of the loan and ascertained the facts from the banker. It is given to few men to serve their church, their parish, their city and their adopted country so well as this faithful priest and his memory will be cherished in Rockford far beyond the limits of his church. The church, school and recreation center which he established and fostered remain the best monument to his worth. [--Rockford Morning Star, 08-28-1929]
Thousands Pay Last Tribute To Local Priest
Rev. Marchesano Buried Today; Bishop Hoban Celebrant
"Anthony Marchesano was rich in talent; rich in good repute and golden opinions from everyone; rich in the love he had earned but rich above all for that he had given himself to his people, to his church and to his city in measure unstinted." Hundreds of persons crowded St. Anthony's Catholic church gymnasium annex and hundreds of others thronged around the edifice and heard the Rev. John J. Flanagan, pastor of St. James Pro-cathedral, the pay foregoing glowing tribute to the Rev. Anthony E. Marchesano at final rites this morning for the pastor, whose death occurred Monday night. Following impressive services at the church, the body of the late pastor was borne to the Catholic cemetery, escorted by one of the largest funeral corteges ever seen in Rockford. The funeral procession included more than 2,500 persons.
Bishop Is Celebrant
Solemn requiem mass for the beloved pastor of St. Anthony's church was celebrated at 10 o'clock this morning, with the Rt. Rev. Edward F. Hoban, bishop of Rockford diocese, as celebrant. The Rev. F.J.Keenan, pastor of St. Patrick's church, assisted the bishop and the Rev. Joseph Lonergan, pastor of St. Mary's church, and the Rev. V. Klukkauska, pastor of St. Peter and Paul church, were deacons of honor. Master of ceremonies for the mass was the Rev. M.J. Hoare. He was assisted by the following: the Rev. C.A. Meehan and the Rev. T.P. Burmingham, assistant pastor at St. Mary's church, acolytes; the Rev. E.J. Lehman, chaplain at St. Anthony's hospital, Thurifer; The Rev. Gino Ferraro, mitre bearer. After mass had been celebrated, the Rev. Fr. Flanagan delivered the sermon. Radio amplifiers carried the words of the St. James church. After mass had been celebrated, the Rev. Fr. Flanagan delivered the sermon. Radio amplifiers carried the words of the St. James church pastor to the crowds unable to gain admission to the church. Headed by the Italian band, the funeral cortege left the church shortly before 12 o'clock, proceeding on Morgan street to South Main street and then to the Catholic cemetery.
Presidents of all Italian societies followed the band in procession. Then came the members of all the societies and the third and fourth degree knights of the local council of the Knights of Columbus, Italian societies represented in the cortege were St. Joseph's club, Madonna Di Udienza, St. Rosalia, Madonna Marchedi, Columbus Italian Athletic club, St. Ambrose society, Venice club, Lombardi club, Verdi club, Society of Piana Di Greci, Madonna Mt. Carmel, Holy Name society, Rosary society and Children of Mary. Bishop Hoban and visiting priest followed the organizations in the cortege and hundreds of Italians, on foot, formed the rear of the procession.
Priests At Services
Priests who attended final rites for the Reverend Father Marchesano included:
Rev. Walter Ryan, St. Thomas high school; Russell J. Guccione, Aurora, L. Dudley Day, Dixon; Joseph Rzeszotko, Rockford; Walter Scollin, Aurora; T.O. Maguire, South Beoit; J.J. Clancy, Fulton; D.J. Conway, Woodstock; J.W. Maguire, St. Viator college; Russell Wilbur, St. Louis, Mo. J.P. Christopherson, Washington; F.S. Brummell; H.E. Ouimet, Elgin; Charles H. Quinn, Belvidere; Thomas Kearney, Hartland; R.A. Horner, Elgin; John Schmidt, Aurora; E.W. O'Brien, Elburn; Leon M. Linder, Aurora; Daniel P. Drunnan, Marengo; Henry M. Schmidt, Aurora; F.J. Conron, Aurora; James Tecomey, Woodstock; M.A. Kisano(?), Rockford; P. Enrietts, Racine, Racine, Wis.; J. Paona, Chicago; C. Fani, Chicago. P. Perardi, Beloit; E.J. Connolly, Hanover; W.V. Reedy, Pecatonica; John T. Egan, Apple River; David Murphy, Prophetstown; J.A. Salon, DeKalb; Jon J. Haskett, Polo; L.C. Prendergast, Elgin. Daniel Lehane, Rockford; T.G. Flynn, Dixon, J.J. Rowland, Rockford; C.J. Fordosa(?), Aurora; J.P. Mahoney, St. Viator college; A.S. McIsaac, Morrison; C.W. Caine, Plano; J.M. Tully, Warren; T.L. Walsh, Hanover; J.A. Driscoll, Walton; A.J. Vollman, Oregon; M.A. Schumacker, Aurora; D.R. Fely, Harvard; A.M. Wertecamp, Spring Grove; C. Hinkel, Aurora; R.L. French, Aurora; F.W. Kilderry, Cary; E.A. McCormick, Crystal Lake; Peter S. Marterson, Sycamore. [--Rockford Daily Register Gazette, 08-30-1929]
Rev. Flanagan, In Funeral Sermon, Tells of Marchesano's Great Work
The following funeral sermon was delivered by the Rev. J.J. Flanagan, pastor of St. James pro-cathedral, over the body of the late Rev. Anthony V. Marchesano, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua church, here at 10:30 today. The sermon was delivered at the close of the funeral mass said by the Ft. Re. Edward F. Hoban, bishop of Rockford diocese, which was attended by thousands of visitors from all over Illinois and Wisconsin.
"The zeal of They house hath eaten me up."--Pd. 68-10
There lie before us the remains of the richest man in Rockford. Saying this I have in mind the Gospel story of a certain rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. But I have this typical story in mind only by way of contrast. Anthony Marchesano was no rich in that poor way. He was rich in talent; rich in good repute and golden opinions from everyone; rich in the love he had earned--but rich above all for that he had given himself to his people, to his church, to his city in measure unstinted. Good measure heaped up, pressed down and running over was the gauge of his devotion to his life's work. His gift was without reserve. It is the conviction of every right-minded man that the waster and the poverty of life lie in the love we have not given, the powers we have not used, the selfish prudence that will risk nothing and which shirking pain, misses happiness as well. It was Father Marchesano's conviction that no man was ever yet the poorer for having all a lifetime let out all the length of the reins. He whose melancholy task I is to commit the remains of his brother to the tomb, sometimes feels it is incumbent upon himself to be expedient--to say the charitable rather than the simple, true work. It is again sometimes required that the preacher, to evade the discussion of the life and qualities of his subject must deal in generalities of one or another sort. I feel here no embarrassment in ignoring expediency--I feel no necessity of filling in my brief time with generalities of death, judgment at the hereafter. But I become immediately specific and address myself to the character of the man--the priest, the citizen, the friend, the brother, I say again, lest even for a moment the point be obscured, he was rich in the priesthood that he honored, rich in the citizenship to which he gave significance, rich in friendship which he understood as only generous souls can understand it, rich in a fraternal relationship.
Brooding care over those whom he had in charge was like unto the devotion of a parent, and again richest of all for that verily in him were the Scriptures fulfilled--for he had emptied himself, had given himself to his Italian people. The lifeless body of him that lies here before us--at the age of 46--, far, too early stricken, is testimony that he could say "The zeal of Thy house hath consumed me." It is recorded of old that the divine Master said to Peter, the first pastor of His Church, "Feed my lambs, feed my sheep!" Some 20 years ago, another Peter, the first Bishop of Rockford, a pioneer as was also Father Marchesano himself, said to this man "Feed the lambs and feed the sheep" of your countrymen who are here in Rockford. Forth went the young Marchesano and on Easter Sunday morning, 1909, he broke the Bread of Life in the basement of St. Mary's church to exactly 23 people. That was no glowing prospect--but he was brave like that great Bishop whom he so ardently loved. Were I to dwell upon the sacramental service alone that he rendered to those who came to him or to those who sent for him in sickness and misery it would be a quite sufficient commendation for any priest. But this priest must perforce go out and seek his lambs and sheep. Their difference of language from their neighbors, their lack of early instruction, their poverty, their feeling that they could scarcely pray beneath the willows of a strange foreign land had conspired to alienate them from the arm of their ancient other in the world, the Catholic church, and so had to overcome ignorance, antipathy, coldness, indifference, apathy, and out of it all to mould a plan of a social worship in the face of economic difficulties that were positively staggering to contemplate. How could they give when they had so little?
How Day Was Spent
He cared not how little they had--he was here to help them and esteemed it a privilege to be at their beck and call. Let me describe a typical 16 hour day in his life. After his daily mass there was a hasty cup of coffee and then out from the shack in which for 20 years he had lived, he made his way--first to some factory to find work for some one unable to ask for it himself--then to the court perhaps to assist in some difficulties (difficulties can be of so many kinds) then to the bedside of some sick or dying parishioner--then to some other place to put bread into the mouths of destitute or to see that the sick were hospitalized. "For 20 years, " he once said to me, "I have worked at the foundation, now, hank God, my Bishop bids me raise the edifice."
He was profoundly grateful to you for your vision, the Right Rev. Bishop, and daily did he bless your name. He felt that you had confidence in him--always an inspiration to a noble soul. A consideration of his life and struggles only renews the conviction which I believe all here present share--that that which makes the difference between one man and another, between the weak and the powerful, the great and the insignificant, is energy--invincible determination--a purpose once formed and then death or victory. It marked the character of his first Bishop here and became also of him a part so that what the name Muldoon shall ever mean to his parish.
On his way from the hospital to take the train to Rochester, when I more than suspected he considered himself a dying man, he insisted that he be brought here to see once again this place where the forces of his life had been poured forth. To see that foundation wall--lovingly to touch the rough cement as it were in a farewell caress--was for him a victory--a victory indeed that was a prelude to death, but he did not die defeated. No--it is we who stand here defeated and baffled this day. It is a rare thing to be able to say, and which I say it I mean no mere figure of speech-but there is none today who more richly deserves our sympathy than the Right Red. Father in God--the bishop whose vision and cooperation were about to crown the lifework of Father Marchesano, and who is now bereft of his spiritual son. Somewhere we find written: "Hilarem datorem diligit Deus" "The Lord loveth a cheerful giver." Have you who knew him ever known a more delightful companion--one whose humor was more unfeigned, more spontaneous, and more gentle and charitable withal? He cheered thousand--he never hurt one. The cheerfulness of his attitude which intrigued all and sundry--an index of his honest life, leads to a thought of the quality of his citizenship. That he knew America for a land of opportunity and his native country as a place of material hardship it would be silly to deny. That he knew the cultural values rising out of the great Mediterranean whence he come to of a great superiority it would be equally silly to deny. But he had the solvent in his nature because he was convinced that in the union of old world values with America's comparative freedom from economic oppression lay a great power for healing the social ills of the world.
Loyal Italian Son
For that he hoped and labored, and through it all, when his people have been maligned, misjudged--sometimes individuals of course quite justly condemned--he held his head high a who should say "No man can indict a nation!" No more loyal son of great Italy than he--no better American than he anywhere. He was loyal to his people. He deplored the lapse of the individual where he found it, but he defended the fair name of his native land at any cost and he never apologized for his people. To a sympathetic ear he might explain the genesis of their difficulties and to hear him do so was a liberal education in internal relations. It was his doctrine that his people were impulsive, but strong--sometimes the victims of economic pressure. But as he always said "they are vital, they live--they have their place in this great scheme of things--let no man dare deny them what other peoples enjoy here." Rockford, among her adopted sons, shall never look upon a citizen superior to Anthony Marchesano and in years to come she shall, please God, realize what she has lost. There are a few discerning spirits who realize it now as witness the splendid tributes of the Rockford press.
A little while ago I indicated that I would speak of him as a fiend and brother. There seems no difficulty in speaking of him as a brother of the blood and as a friend in the same breath, because, like the quality of mercy, his friendship was not strained through the sieve of caution or calculation, but those who were admitted to his friendship he gave almost the same forthright affection and support that he gave to the members of his own family. This is a matter of such heavy concern to those of us who loved him dearly that I cannot trust myself to say more, except to beseech you his near and dear ones to be comforted in the memory of your noble brother and in the thought of his work and sacrifice. Taking no time or thought for his health, the zeal of His Fathers's house consumed him and on the field of lofty endeavor your brother laid down his life. Who is there who cannot find comfort in the memory of a brother whose laying down of his life for his people showed him to have had that greater love which fears not death if he I to die for others, and who has the grace to be able to say "the zeal of Thy House hath eaten me up?" [--Rockford Republic, 08-30-1929]
Beloved Rockford Italian Priest Dies as Visions For New Parish Buildings Near Materialization
A new and greater St. Anthony of Padua church and a parish recreation center will stand in the years to come as greater monuments to the untiring work of the Rev. .Fr. Anthony V. Marchesano than any other memorials that could be devised. For twenty years Father Marchesano, once described by the late Bishop P.J. Muldoon as "the greatest Italian priest in America," ceaselessly carried on his work in St. Anthony of Padua parish here. And at the age of 46 he died last Ag. 26 despite every aid that medial science could provide. But his great work will live through the years to come and Rockford citizens will recall the prominent part he played in civic and spiritual life. No matter what heir creed, Rockford citizens today are almost as one in proclaiming him one of the most outstanding figures in the city's history. Father Marchesano was born in Montemaggiore, province of Palmero, Sicily. He was the fourth of a family of 10 children, born to Francis and josphine Sciolino Marchesano. He completed his elementary studies in his native town, and at the age of 18 became an extern at the Palmero seminary. His classics were finished at the Apollinare college in Rome, and his Theological studies were made at the Apollinare seminary where he had a brilliant record as a student. On the completion of his Theological course, he was ordained to the priesthood at Cefalu, by the Rt. Rev. Gaetano D'Allesandro, D.D., on March 31, 1906, for the diocese of Cefalu. In October, 1906, the Rev. Marchesano came to America to visit his parents who were residing in Chicago. Realizing the need of Italian speaking priests in the middle west, he was easily persuaded to obtain an extended leave of absence from his diocese and for two years was stationed in Chicago. In April, 1909, at the invitation of the late Rt. Rev. P. J. Muldoon, the Rev. Anthony Marchesano came to Rockford and later became affiliated with the Rockford diocese. The parish of St. Anthony of Padua for the Italian Catholics of Rockford had its inception in the mind of the late Rt. Rev. P.J. Muldoon shortly after his installation as the first bishop of the Rockford diocese in 1908. The large number of immigrants coming to this city made it apparent that the Italians could not be properly cared for by the few priest stationed at the two churches which were then in Rockford. Early in the spring of 1909, the late Bishop Muldoon extended an invitation to Father Marchesano, a priest of the diocese of Cefalu, who was at that time stationed in Chicago, to come and look over the Italian situation in Rockford. He immediately saw a vast field for priestly labor among this portion of his country fellowmen and expressed his willingness to remain with them. The new parish may be said to have had its birth on the afternoon of Palm Sunday, April 12, 1909, when a meeting of Italian people of Rockford was held in the St. James Pro-Cathedral school hall. The late Bishop Muldoon address the gathering, assured them of his utmost co-operation, and the Rev. Marchesano then outlined what was to be done. The Italians pledged themselves to support the new undertaking. A careful census of the city was made by Father Marchesano, who found that there were 250 families under his jurisdiction. The basement of St. Mary's church was fitted up and the Rev. Marchesano celebrated mass there for his people until the present St. Anthony of Padua church was ready for occupancy. Encouraged by the friendly attitude of his people, the Rev. Marchesano worked on. In the summer of 1909, the late Bishop Muldoon purchased two pieces of property on the corner of Kent and Ferguson sts. on the south side. The property was purchased from Frank Betzold at a cost of $4,500. The deed is dated July 19, 1909, and it was recorded July 26, 1909. On the corner was a house suitable for a parochial residence and plans were drawn for a church to be erected on the property adjoining on the south, facing Ferguson st. Tuesday, Sept. 14, 1909, ground was broken for the new structure. By the middle of October the foundation walls were finished and the cornerstone was laid Sunday afternoon, Oct. 17 at 4 o'clock. The dedication took place Sunday morning, Jan. 23 ,1910 the late Bishop Muldoon and a number of clergy officiating. On Monday, May 31, 1915, work was begun on the second story of the church building. The addition was ready Sept. 1 and Tuesday morning, Sept. 7, school opened. The Missionary Franciscan Sister of the Immaculate Conception from Boston, Mass., are in charge. Prior to their coming a convent was provided for them at 827 S. West st. During the year 1919, the National Catholic Welfare council erected an Americanization hall adjoining St. Anthony's church. Always intensely American, Father Marchesano sought to inculcate the principles of American ideals in his parishioners and towards this end he enlarged his parish and launched his efforts towards a new gymnasium which would serve as a community center and towards a new school. The gymnasium is completed and he lived to see he dreams at last partially realized. Work is now going forward rapidly on the new buildings and the new school will be opened this fall. All will stand as a monument to the beloved priest's untiring efforts. [--Rockford Republic, 10-01-1929]
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