Father Joseph Trovato, CSB; longtime professor, campus minister
Basilian Father Joseph Trovato, the first chaplain of St. John Fisher College in Pittsford and former senior priest in residence at St. Kateri Parish in Irondequoit, died July 20, 2020, after a brief illness. He was 90 years old.
Father Trovato grew up in Rochester’s Holy Redeemer Parish, attending the parish school and then Aquinas Institute. After high school, he went on to study at St. Basil’s Seminary in Toronto and was ordained a priest of the Congregation of St. Basil June 29, 1956, by Cardinal James McGuigan at Toronto’s St. Basil Church. Father Trovato earned his theology degree from St. Michael’s College in Toronto, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Toronto.
In 1959, after three years of teaching Italian at St. Michael’s College, Father Trovato moved back to Rochester to become a professor of Italian and the first director of campus ministry at St. John Fisher College. He spent 30 years at the college, working closely with the students in his role as both professor and campus ministry director. He also served as a member of the college’s board of trustees for 25 years and later as a member emeritus.
“Father Trovato impacted the lives of literally thousands of Fisher students, and continued to impact them in their lives as loyal Fisher alumni,” Gerald J. Rooney, president of St. John Fisher College, said in a statement to the Fisher community. “His humble service and gracious spirit reached many, and he spread much goodness, discipline, and knowledge. His extraordinary commitment to the College and his work on behalf of every campus constituency has benefited the entire Fisher family, as well as the greater Rochester community.”
In recognition of his service to the Fisher community, the college bestowed upon Father Trovato a president’s medal during the 2008 commencement ceremony. In 2019, the college named its new campus ministry center after the priest, and in February, the college celebrated a 90th birthday Mass and celebration in his honor.
The birthday Mass and celebration marked the last time that Basilian Father Norm Tanck, former pastor at Christ the King Church in Irondequoit, saw Father Trovato. The two first met at St. John Fisher when Father Tanck was involved in Sunday liturgies and weekend retreats as an undergraduate student in the mid-1960s. He said Father Trovato influenced him to pursue a vocation as a Basilian priest. Before being ordained in 1974, Father Tanck noted that he served as a deacon for Father Trovato at the college. The two priests also served together at Christ the King when Father Tanck was named pastor in 1997.
“He was a gentle spirit,” said Father Tanck, who is now associate pastor of St. Basil Catholic Parish at the University of St. Michael College in Toronto. “People were very comfortable talking to him. He had a peaceful presence.”
In addition to his work at St. John Fisher, in 1989, Father Trovato became a senior priest in residence at Christ the King, which became part of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in 2010. He served in that role until 2019 when the order left the parish due to declining priest availability. Father Trovato then moved to the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Pittsford.
“Our Diocese family is saddened to learn of the death of Father Joseph Trovato,” the Diocese of Rochester said in a press release. “Father Trovato was known by many for his deep faith in God, humility and positive disposition. As he returns to the Lord, he will be sorely missed by many who benefitted from his share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. May he now rest eternally with God, whom he loved and served with dedication and devotion.”
Father Trovato is survived by his nephew, Christopher Trovato; niece, Lorraine (Kevin) Lantz-Udovich; great-nephews, Conner Lantz, Dylan Lantz and Landen Trovato; great-niece, Delaney Trovato; many cousins; and his Basilian confrères.
He will lie in state Monday, July 27, from 3 to 7 p.m. at St. Kateri at Christ the King Church, 445 Kings Highway, Irondequoit. All guests are required to wear face masks and use hand sanitizer upon entering the building.
Father Trovato’s funeral Mass is set for Tuesday, July 28, at 10:30 a.m., with Bishop Salvatore R. Matano serving as celebrant. The private Mass will be livestreamed on the St. John Fisher College website and Paul W. Harris Funeral Home Facebook page. Interment will be at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
A public memorial Mass will be held at a later date.
Donations in Father Trovato’s memory may be made to the Father Joseph A. Trovato, CSB Scholarship Fund, St. John Fisher College, 3690 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618.