Father Antimo Fiorillo, a former pastor of Santa Maria parish, the Bronx, and St. Lucy’s parish, Manhattan, died March 14 at the Edward Cardinal Egan Pavilion in the Bronx. He was 97.
He was pastor of Santa Maria from 1981 until his retirement in 1993, and had served as a parochial vicar there, 1949-1973. He was pastor of St. Lucy’s, 1973-1981.
Cardinal Dolan celebrated the Funeral Mass March 19 at the John Connor O’Connor Pavilion, the Bronx. Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Walsh and Msgr. Patrick Carney were the concelebrants. The homilist was Msgr. Carney, pastor emeritus of Sacred Heart parish, Hartsdale, and a resident at the Cardinal Egan Pavilion.
“He died after having celebrated his birthday,” Msgr. Carney said. “We had a chocolate cake for him” at a party around 6 p.m. “Then he went into his room, and during the night, he died.”
Although Father Fiorillo’s actual birthday was March 3, his legal birthdate was March 14, according to his nephew, Carlo Fiorillo. “Father Antimo was always in good spirits,” Msgr. Carney said. “One of the hallmarks of his life was he loved to talk to people.”
Msgr. Carney became acquainted with Father Fiorillo at the Cardinal Egan Pavilion, their mutual residence.
“Antimo Fiorillo was the kind of a guy that you could not avoid,” Msgr. Carney quipped, as Father Fiorillo was eager to talk about “whatever you wanted to talk about.”
“He was a rather intelligent individual, too,” Msgr. Carney added.
While at St. Lucy’s, when the Italian population was declining and the Puerto Rican and Filipino populations were increasing, Father Fiorillo learned Spanish to meet the needs of his parishioners.
Wherever he served, he consistently greeted congregants at the back of the church after Mass. Likewise, at the Cardinal Egan Pavilion, Father Fiorillo was known to sit on the outdoor porch to greet people upon their arrival and departure.
Born the eldest of five children in Sant’Antimo in the province of Naples, Italy, he was ordained in Aversa, Italy, in 1943. He had received a special dispensation from Pope Pius XII to be ordained at age 22.
He served at the parish church of Sant’Antimo and taught classical languages at the high school there.
He immigrated to the United States in 1949 and settled in New York. He was incardinated into the archdiocese in 1954.
He earned a doctorate in dogmatic theology and a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical School of Theology, San Luigi, in Naples, Italy, and did post-graduate work in languages at the University of Naples.
He is survived by two sisters, Rosa Cataneo and Nunzia Petito, and numerous nieces and nephews. Interment will be in Italy.