Father Carlo Della Vecchia, CPPS, a Missionary of the Precious Blood of the Atlantic Province, died April 15, 2020, due to complications from COVID-19. He was 95.
“Father Carlo was a universally beloved priest who will always be remembered for his human qualities — his humor, kindness and utter lack of guile. He enriched every community event with his presence and caring demeanor,” remarked Father John Colacino, CPPS., professor of religious studies at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford.
Father Della Vecchia was born in Segni, Italy, in 1924 and was 23 years old when he was ordained a priest on Aug. 14, 1948. Five years later, he entered the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and was assigned to serve in the United States.
In 1953, he arrived in Rochester for his first assignment, which was at Most Precious Blood Parish. He served as assistant pastor of the Rochester parish, and although he wasn’t there for a very long time, he left a lasting impression, according to Annette DeCarolis, who belonged to Most Precious Blood while Father Della Vecchia served there.
DeCarolis said she remembers the priest’s sense of humor as well as his heartwarming sincerity.
“People were important to him,” DeCarolis said. “He made home visits and comforted those in the hospital.”
Father Della Vecchia later served at St. Anthony Parish in Rochester as well as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Niles, Ohio, and St. Alphonsus and St. Roch in Toronto. Even after he’d left the Rochester area, he stayed in touch with several of his former parishioners, according to Antoinette Fallone Patamia, who met the priest while he served at Most Precious Blood. Patamia said she visited Father Della Vecchia in Toronto not long before he died.
“He (often) took time to come to Rochester from Ohio or Canada to share our joys and our sorrows and would stay at my house. He was a blessing to our family,” Patamia said.
Father Kevin Mannara was just a child when Father Della Vecchia was at Most Precious Blood, yet he still remembers the elder priest’s joyful nature and love of telling jokes.
“His voice was booming. I was only a kid, but always loved when he was around,” noted Father Mannara, CSB, director of campus ministry at St. John Fisher College.
In a time when priests often tended to be seen as very serious and wholly spiritual, Father Della Vecchia had “a human, social” way about him that made parishioners view him almost as an uncle or a family member, according to Orrie Capone, who also met Father Della Vecchia at Most Precious Blood.
“He translated his priestly vocation to a very relatable example of God’s loving, caring and joyful spirit,” Capone said.
After retiring from full-time ministry in 2012, Father Della Vecchia lived and assisted at St. Roch Parish in Toronto.
A private chapel service was celebrated April 21, 2020. Entombment followed at Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery in Woodbridge, Ontario in Canada. A public funeral Mass will be scheduled at a later date.