UPDATED WITH MORE OF BISHOP DILORENZO

Message from the Holy Father

“The Holy Father was saddened to learn of the death of Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo, and he sends prayerful condolences to the clergy, religious, and lay faithful of the Diocese of Richmond. The Holy Father gives thanks for Bishop DiLorenzo’s years of priestly and episcopal ministry, and he commends to the love of Almighty God the soul of this pastor who has served the Church in the United States generously for so many years. As a pledge of consolation and hope in the Risen Christ, His Holiness imparts his Apostolic Blessing to all present at the Rite of Christian Burial.” – Pope Francis, through Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State

“His humor lifted spirits ”

Frank and I have been friends for 42 years. The phone was our main means of communication since he was away from Philadelphia for many of those years. He was a humble, generous man who never thought of himself first. His vibrant personality and humor lifted my spirits on many occasion. I will truly miss my faithful friend. – Sr. Janice, longtime friend of the Bishop

“Such an effective leader”

With Bishop Emeritus Loverde, Bishop DiLorenzo established the Virginia Catholic Conference just months after arriving in Richmond. I was blessed to be named conference director and am deeply grateful for many things Bishop DiLorenzo taught me. He was so good at understanding the big picture, and that made him such an effective leader. He didn’t just see finite tasks or tiny pieces of a puzzle spread all over a table. He envisioned how they should fit together and what they could accomplish when they did. I would go into meetings with him convinced I needed to discuss every item on a list I had carefully planned, and would come out of those meetings having discussed only half of them. Over time, I realized what I learned in those meetings was of far greater value than the little items I did or did not get to check off my list. At every meeting, he also made me laugh at least once, and usually way more than that.– Jeff Caruso, Executive Director, Virginia Catholic Conference

“Inspired and enriched me”

It was with great sadness that we received the news of our Bishop’s passing. So saddening. We shall miss him as a loving shepherd and father. I still recall his homilies that were blended with history and Scripture. They inspired and enriched me. We shall miss this and his great organizational abilities. We pray God strengthens us all as we try our best to say “yes” to his will.  – Fr. Francis Xavier Musolooza, Pastor, Christ the King, Abingdon, and Saint John, Marion

“Keen desire to serve”

Bishop DiLorenzo would regularly gather with all the diocesan seminarians for prayer and dinner. One summer, he reflected on the experience of deciding whether to offer dispensation allowing Catholics to eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day when it fell on a Friday in Lent. On one hand, he was hammered by Irish Catholics suspicion that their Italian bishop might not recognize the cultural value of consuming corned beef. On the other hand, he was plagued by concerned Catholics who feared that any dispensation would compromise the Lenten experience of sacrifice and self denial. He felt like he was in a no-win situation. I was inspired by his keen desire to serve the people of God by making the very best decisions, and his sadness when it was suggested he did the opposite. In my own ministry, I seek to make wise and compassionate decisions, knowing they may not be universally popular.  – Father Jonathan Goertz

“Inspired us to love”

Bishop DiLorenzo’s life was a blessing, and his memory a treasure. We are humbled that even on his last days, he had the strength to dedicate his time to consecrate our new church and celebrate with our parish. We thank him for having inspired us with his love and teaching us to spread that love and grace to others. We will all miss him very much. May God bless his soul and may he rest in peace. – Jimmy Nguyen, Chairman, Our Lady of Vietnam Catholic Church

“Champion of the disenfranchised”

Above all, Bishop was a man of inclusion. His passion for education made him a great advocate for the Office of Catholic Schools! He championed the disenfranchised and pushed hard to make Catholic education available to all. His work for Latino students was recognized nationally and became a model for other dioceses to follow. With Bishop’s support and leadership, diocesan schools received unparalleled financial and spiritual support. Under his guidance, the Diocese of Richmond Catholic schools achieved national accreditation. His love for his children was unmistakable and will define his legacy. Bishop was never too busy or too occupied to connect with those crossing his path. He would always stop and ask how the day was going. Most likely, he would circle around to wherever the last conversation left off… No matter how much was on his agenda, he had time to stop and connect. He will be missed. – Ray Honeycutt, Superintendent of Schools Diocese of Richmond

“He challenged us”

It is hard to believe that he is no longer with us. For the past seven years, I, along with many dedicated staff, worked in service to the mission of the Catholic Church under the leadership of this great and holy man; although, he would disagree with this characterization. I’ll miss the informal “morning coffee” gatherings with the Bishop and his close advisers. We would discuss the issues of the day. At times, the topics were serious and we helped prepare him for what lie ahead. Many times, however, the subjects were less serious and this is when we experienced his larger than life personality and sense of humor. As CFO, I reflect on how he challenged us. He expected complete and total transparency and accountability regarding the sacred resources entrusted to us. Every dollar needed to be used in a meaningful way to further Christ’s mission. The litmus test was simple: Would the Catholic community approve of our spending decisions? He challenged those he appointed to positions of leadership, including his vicars, staff, pastors, and principals. We understood the reason he appointed us — to serve God’s people. “We serve those in need,” he said, “because they are created in the image and likeness of God.” This message disarmed us all – and that was another of Bishop DiLorenzo’s many gifts. We shall miss him! – Michael J. McGee, Chief Financial Officer, Diocese of Richmond

“Personally, professionally, he cared”

Bishop DiLorenzo understood the importance of transparency and accountability with the diocesan finances and was essential in providing the resources for our office to do its job well. This included providing support to our parishes and schools so that our diocese could have the much-needed resources to support the greater mission. Bishop not only had the vision to initiate new programs to allow for the growth of our diocese, but to also financially secure the diocese for the future. Personally, Bishop DiLorenzo could not be any more supportive of a mom with small children working at a director level. He was genuinely interested in my children and their well-being, and was aware that knowing his people personally was equally as important as knowing them professionally. Bishop practiced an open-door policy with his employees and was always willing to provide insight and empowerment to allow me to do my job.  – Sarah Rabin, Director, Office of Finance

“High regard for priests in military”

In 1993, Bishop DiLorenzo and I met in Scranton when he and I celebrated our 25th ordination anniversaries — he for the Philadelphia Archdiocese and I for the Scranton Diocese of which, at the time, he was auxiliary bishop. I was on leave from the Air Force chaplaincy. He went out of his way to tell me of his high regard for priests who serve in the military — quite a boost to my morale! In 2001, I was assigned to the air combat command chaplain’s office at Langley AFB, and was serving there when he became bishop of Richmond in 2004. I visited him shortly after his installation and he was incredibly gracious and welcoming. Subsequently, I had the opportunity to visit with him at the yearly diocesan convocations. He was unfailingly hospitable and personally kind to me. I cherish his memory! Requiescat in pace. Amen. – Robert Hochreiter, Classmate

“Sharing concerns for the needy – and home”

For just over 11 years I had the privilege of meeting regularly with Bishop DiLorenzo to share with him the work of Commonwealth Catholic Charities and seek his insights and pastoral guidance on so many things that could impact our ability to help those most in need. Bishop’s compassion for and deep understanding of the struggles of our brothers and sisters of all ages and walks of life were always central to our discussions of how best to address a particular situation or issue. At the conclusion of our meetings there was always a few minutes to catch up on what was happening back home in Scranton – family, friends, parishes, the weather, restaurants, favorite candy, the lake, etc. There was such joy in his connectedness to his home away from home. This quote by Flavia Weedn is a favorite of mine: “Some people come in to our lives and quietly go, others stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never ever the same.” I am forever grateful for the footprints left by Bishop D. – Joanne D. Nattrass, Executive Director, DFGD Commonwealth Catholic Charities

“Recognizing a Bishop to love – in an instant”

I remember every detail of the first time I met Bishop DiLorenzo.  Cardinal Keeler brought him to Richmond to meet his new staff and hold a press conference.  Everyone was a little nervous, but he put us at ease by making jokes with the news media at their expense.  I knew at that moment I would love working with him.  I thanked Cardinal Keeler for finding us such a nice bishop – one with a sense of humor.  The Cardinal replied, “I know, isn’t he a riot?”! In our 13 years together he taught us to “make God the highest priority of your life; do God’s loving will every day; don’t be possessed by your possessions; and have the courage to do an honest self-appraisal – making course corrections when needed.”He loved this quote from a favorite book, Death Comes for the Archbishop, by Willa Cather:  “The miracles of the Church seem to me, to rest not so much upon faces, or voices, or healing power coming suddenly near us from far off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.” –  Anne Edwards, Special Assistant and Advisor to Bishop DiLorenzo

“A curiosity about the life of international priests”

When I received the letter inviting me to come to serve in the Catholic Diocese of Richmond in 2011, it had the name of Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo who I didn’t know at the time. I looked forward to meeting him. And when I met him, he welcomed me and he has done so since then. I found Bishop Francis Xavier Di Lorenzo to be humble and humorous. He was always interested in knowing about the person and where they came from. “Where do people get drinking water where you come from?” he asked me. He believed water had a lot to do with the life of the person. He loved to know how the ministry was going where I was, and always said “Thank you for all that you do for God’s people in this Diocese and I encourage you.” May God rest his soul in eternal peace.– Fr. Anthony Mpungu, Pastor, Catholic Church of St. Mark   

“Sharing the things that mattered most”

In my role at the Diocese, it has been my privilege to not only spend time with Bishop DiLorenzo in the office, but also to travel with him across the Diocese. Trust me, when you spend 10 hours in the car round-trip to Bristol a couple of times, you get to know each other! Once a colleague asked me, “What do you talk about with the Bishop for all those hours in the car?” The answer is, what didn’t we talk about? He was such a regular guy. We talked about movies, history, current events, you name it. But what he was most interested in was my family. He always wanted to know what my children were up to, and often those conversations were funny. I will never forget, however, when we drove to Roanoke soon after my mother died and we shared a gentle cry. He will forever be in my heart. – Margaret Keightley, Executive Director of Advancement

“Opening wide the tent to immigrants”

The Latin America community of this Diocese expresses gratitude to Bishop DiLorenzo for being their pastor. He opened wide his tent to welcome the immigrant population, with a tender heart he accompanied them, listening to their concerns and hopes, and supporting them in a way that made them feel at home.He invited international Priests and Sisters from Latin America to come and serve their spiritual needs. He invested personal and financial resources to minister Latino communities with dignity and simplicity. I myself saw his concern for the most needy – the migrant farmer and children. He opened the doors of the parish Catholic school to empower a new generation to afford an education under the moral values of the teaching of the Church. Many parents have expressed to me their gratitude for this opportunity. His goodness testifies to God’s love for immigrants. His witness will remain printed in our hearts forever. May he enjoy the presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe and her Son in their eternal dwelling! ¡Adiós, nuestro querido Obispo!  – Sister Inma Cuesta, CMS, Director, Office of Hispanic Ministry

“Celebrating and bringing together the Church’s diverse cultures”

When Bishop DiLorenzo came to Richmond he invited parishioners of diverse ethnic backgrounds to meet with him and discuss parish life and community. Out of this meeting he established the Ethnic Advisory Board (EAB). The EAB met with the Director of the Office for Black Catholics and the Bishop to discuss ministry in the various communities and the importance of sharing and celebrating cultural heritage. Bishop reminded us that if someone had to ask why we had an Office for Black Catholics then they answered their own question. Bishop’s contributions to the Ethnic Ministries were boundless. He understood the challenges we face with adversity and the lack of recognition by the Church.  Bishop DiLorenzo inspired me to apply to the Lay Ecclesial Ministry Institute Program and obtain my Masters in Theology. He inspired me – and many others I’m sure – to want to affect change in our communities. The Office for Black Catholics/Asian Ministry, under his leadership, has been an integral part of the Diocese of Richmond. On behalf of this community I thank Bishop DiLorenzo for his leadership, support and contributions. – Pam Harris, Director, Office for Black Catholics and Asian Ministry

“Attending to the needs of parishioners who love the Extraordinary Form”

I initially met Bishop DiLorenzo in the old chancery office across from the Cathedral.  Although a Richmond native, I was working in another Diocese at the time.  My intention was to introduce myself and welcome him to the Diocese. Little did I know that he was in desperate need for someone to take over the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at then St. Benedict’s Chapel in Chesapeake because Fr. Damian Abbaticchio of St. Gregory the Great was retiring, and he had no one to replace him.  Imagine my surprise when the Bishop asked if the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter could send someone right away.  Although my Superior did send someone, I followed two years later and have enjoyed every minute working in the Richmond Diocese. I will always be grateful to him for his attention to the needs of the parishioners at St. Benedict’s (Chesapeake) and St. Joseph’s (Richmond). – Fr. Neal A. Nichols, FSSP, St. Benedict’s Parish, Chesapeake

“Dedicated to the well-being of his priests”

Bishop DiLorenzo was always more interested in my personal well-being than in parish matters. When I attended the annual clergy interviews in Lynchburg he asked me why I did not take advantage of Skype rather than drive the 250 miles from Big Stone Gap. He always asked if I wanted to continue in my assignment, even when my term had not yet ended. When I transferred to a new rectory he made sure that it was renovated first before I arrived.  – Fr. Tim Drake, retired Priest 

“Bishop inspired – and left a mark”

Those of us who were privileged to have worked with the Bishop were inspired by him and are deeply saddened by his death. May he rest in peace! Outstanding among Bishop DiLorenzo’s many good works was his initiation of the tremendously successful diocesan program of tuition assistance for children who want to go to Catholic schools. With deep sympathy to all those at the helm in the Pastoral Center who worked so closely with Bishop DiLorenzo, for your great loss. – Geline Williams, former Mayor of Richmond; founding and current Board Member, McMahon Parater Foundation  

“What’s in a new name…everything!”

In the fall of 2007, our diocesan life as Bishop’s staff at 811 Cathedral Place, Richmond, was about to change. Packing up all our belongings in plastic bins, labeled and numbered, we were bound for our new office home at 7800 Carousel Lane, Henrico.  Leaving our “chancery,” the historic building of offices right across from the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, came with bittersweet feelings.  Were we in for a surprise!  Ten miles up the road, we were no longer a “chancery;” we were now a “Pastoral Center!”  Our purpose was newly defined by Bishop DiLorenzo: to serve the expressed needs of the 142 diverse parishes directly. Now with safe parking and accessible space to gather with the parish leaders, we could provide formation and inspiration.  Bishop supervised the shift by inviting the parishes to evaluate the services offered by the Pastoral Center staff.  Bishop DiLorenzo was indeed a bishop to each of our 142 parishes! – Emily Filippi, Director, Office of Christian Formation

“Advising future priests: stay close to those who love you”

Bishop DiLorenzo helped me and others see the importance of being down to earth. Never pretentious, he cautioned against putting on airs by his typical self-effacing character. We knew he was in charge, but that he was a loving father. Sharing many meals with all the seminarians or just a few of us, he would joke about liking to eat, but then he would say something serious about how he was proud of us and cared about how we were doing. If we gave a Bologna answer, he would press for a real response to show his authentic concern. When facing a serious personal problem this spring, he spoke to me one-on-one and gave the following advice: ‘Stay close to family. They’ll take care of you. You need to stay close to people who love you for who you are.’ I will miss him. – James Hickman, Seminarian

“Moved to tears for the needy”

Bishop DiLorenzo will be forever remembered for the compassion he extended to the poor and marginalized here in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. He visited our outreach, Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic, in 2015 and was moved to tears when he saw as people lined up days in advance to get desperately needed health care. He went back to Richmond and galvanized needed resources in terms of volunteers and financial support from the Diocese and its parishes to the only safety net clinic in the area. He recalled seeing a Health Wagon in Hawaii that did similar work and that gave us an undeniable bond with him. He graciously proclaimed our good work throughout the Commonwealth and called others to volunteer with us. With his support, we have been able to broaden our outreach and serve new patients that we could not have reached otherwise and this translates in to saving lives here daily at the clinic. – Teresa Gardner Tyson, Executive Director,  The Health Wagon 

“You have my blessing”

Once, in a personal conversation at my parish, I asked the Bishop about something I wanted to do. He responded, “yes, there is a need, you have my blessing, do it.” He heard the cry of the poor and wanted us to help our neighbors. During the Bishop’s first visit to Jubilee House under new management, he admired my Dad’s woodwork and told me he also enjoyed woodworking like his father. Later, my wife Karen and I had a private talk with him. We mentioned a personal intention we sought. He said, “I heard your prayers loud and clear. I hear other prayers.” We stated our prayer request. His response “No, more work is required.” Then he said, “Help an old man up.” I took his hand and helped him from his seat. He loved his priests and people by blessing them as he left. – Bob Vaughan, Director, Jubilee House Retreat Center 

“Touched by the sacrifice of a saint”

The Office for Evangelization and Center for Marriage, Family, and Life staff met regularly with Bishop DiLorenzo. During these meetings, the Bishop tended to be business-like and direct. He asked questions and dug deeper when he felt called. It was always interesting to see what caught his attention. Several months ago, in what ended up being our last meeting together, we saw a different side of Bishop. We had worked with an artist to commission several holy cards highlighting a male and female saint to give each grade level at the Diocesan Youth Conference. I shared several example cards, including one that showed Saint Teresa of Calcutta and Saint Damian of Molokai. As I told him about the project, the Bishop became fixated on one holy card. He pointed to the card of Saint Damian and said the Church on the card looked just like it did in real life. Saint Damian lived among lepers on the island of Molokai in the state of Hawaii. Knowing Bishop had served in Hawaii before coming to Richmond, I asked if the picture made him homesick. “No, not homesick,” Bishop DiLorenzo said. With his eyes beginning to fill with tears he said, “What that man did.”       – Angela Pometto, Associate Director for Youth and Young Adults, Central and Western Vicariates, Office for Evangelization

“Expressing gratitude in song”

Bishop was an extraordinary person.  He provided us with everything we needed to do our job and always was very grateful for our work. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work in my position.   He would arrive early in the morning and ready to start the day. Many mornings he would break out in song.  He was engaging with everyone and enjoyed talking with us.  He was a wonderful Bishop, a terrific man and I will greatly miss him.– Brenda Boehnlein, Assistant to Rev. Msgr. Mark Richard Lane 

“Caring for the well-being of employees before and after retirement”

I was hired by Bishop DiLorenzo in 2004, shortly after he was installed as the Bishop of Richmond.  From the beginning, he was always a strong supporter of the Office of Human Resources and the over 3,000 employees that we serve. Every time we presented a new benefit or a different way to conduct business, Bishop’s first question was “how is this going to impact our employees?”   He truly cared for the well-being of all employees, both now and as they reached retirement age.  Thanks to Bishop DiLorenzo, we have a redesigned pension plan that is open and on-going for all eligible employees.  He really wanted employees to have three sources of retirement income – social security, a 403(b) and the pension plan.  He referred to it as a “three-legged stool.”  We will greatly miss Bishop DiLorenzo, his wisdom, guidance and humor!  He was a wonderful boss. – Dot Mahanes, Human Resources Officer      

“Sharing a meal and much laughter”

Bishop DiLorenzo enjoyed a good laugh!  He spent many hours at Blessed Sacrament in Norfolk, as he enjoyed the people and thought the facility was especially accommodating. He often used our space to meet with people and conduct business. We recently spent a few uninterrupted hours together before joining the area Norfolk priests for dinner followed by Confirmation Mass.  The one-on-one time was especially enjoyable. And there would always be laughter!I will keep these types of memories in my head. – Fr. Joe Metzger, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Norfolk    

“Nurturing the soil that grew the priesthood”

It is not an exaggeration to say that my entire life as a Catholic was shaped by Bishop DiLorenzo’s ministry in the Diocese of Richmond. In 2004, my family and I entered the Catholic Church as converts, only months before Bishop DiLorenzo’s arrival in the Diocese. As a youth, I was formed and encouraged in my faith by the conferences and events of the Office for Evangelization; as a college student, I grew into my adult faith through the guidance of my campus ministry, and in both cases I benefited directly from the resources our Bishop invested in these ministries. But it was Bishop DiLorenzo’s spiritual fatherhood and the gift of his priesthood that most inspired me to pursue the same vocation. While he will not be the Bishop to ordain me, I still hope, God willing, to be a “DiLorenzo priest.” – Cassidy Stinson, Seminarian 

“Being with his flock, in sickness and health ”

We loved him so much.  Even though he was so sick and near death, he wanted to be with us to dedicate and consecrate our new church on Aug. 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration. We are very grateful of him and so proud of him.  It was a great opportunity for the Vietnamese people in Hampton Roads to see him for the very last time.  May the Lord have mercy to his soul and grant him the rewards he deserves. – Fr. Joseph Phien Nguyen, Pastor, Our Lady of LaVang-Vietnam Parish

“Proving Catholic schools could and should be saved”

Francis DiLorenzo will be remembered as the Bishop who saved the Catholic schools of this Diocese.  When he arrived in Richmond, powerful voices argued that the Diocese could not do anything to forestall the demise of many of our schools.  Bishop DiLorenzo courageously went about proving these skeptics wrong.First, he investigated the quality of our Catholic schools and found them worthy of support but lacking in the financial resources necessary to keep them affordable for enough families.  So, he built a team of believers in Catholic education and devised a strategy for the Diocese to help with the schools’ finances.  Then he traveled all over this Diocese seeking potential supporters to help him in this mission.The results:  a Diocese that provided essentially no financial aid 10 years ago is now providing approximately $4 million in tuition assistance annually.  Enrollment has stabilized and school facilities are being upgraded.  We now have confidence in the future of our Catholic schools.  All friends of Catholic education have lost a great friend in Bishop DiLorenzo. – Chuck McPhillips, Partner, Kaufman & Canoles, P.C.; former Board Chair, McMahon Parater Foundation, Board Member, Catholic Community Foundation 

“Working quietly, away from spotlight, to get things done”

When Bishop DiLorenzo arrived in the Richmond we were somewhat lost and without focus. He fixed the Diocese financially.  He completely reordered our schools—and I see that very clearly here in Hampton Roads; and he never forgot the poor.  He gave those of us in the pro-Life movement the space and opportunity to grow the mission and spread the word.  He never splashed.  He worked quietly and “out of the newspapers.”  And, he knew how to reach out and bring folks onboard to his many efforts. He was in many respects a holy man.  We are grateful that he was sent to us.  May the perpetual light always shine upon our dear Bishop Francis Xavier.  I will miss him much. – Robert Martinez, Vice President, Business Development & Real Estate, Norfolk Southern Corporation; Board Member, McMahon Parater Foundation

“Loving moms, dads and all God’s children”

When I first met Bishop DiLorenzo after joining the Diocese to manage the Safe Environment program in January 2005, I knew I had Bishop’s full support. The safety of our children and the care of survivors of abuse were a top priority for the Bishop. Each time we met over the years, he gave his full attention to updates on the Safe Environment program.  Because of his great support, the Diocese has remained in full compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.  I’ll remember a highlight of my day was in the morning arriving at the Pastoral Center at the same time as Bishop “D”.  We would walk in from the parking lot and ride the elevator together. Bishop would always ask “what’s new, Mom, with the family?”  “How are Dad and the girls?”  He would listen intently to my “Mom” stories and laugh his infectious laugh at my silly stories. When the elevator stopped, we would talk a few more minutes before parting and he would always say to me, “thanks for everything.”  I’m forever grateful for his love and support not only for my work but also for my family.  – Maryjane Fuller, Director, Safe Environment/ Director, Human Resources