Fr. Julio Lopresti, IVE, who was the pastor of St. Anthony and Immaculate Heart of Mary parishes during the last four years, died unexpectedly May 30 in Boston, where his order, the Institute of the Incarnate Word, transferred him to serve in that archdiocese’s cathedral. He was 47.
Fr. Rolando Santoianni, current pastor of the two Phoenix parishes, remembered a priest who was “smart, sociable and cordial who listened to any topic. He took his pastoral work seriously,” Fr. Santoianni said.
These were qualities that Fr. Lopresti drew on to complete his two objectives in his pastoral mission at both parishes.
“The first objective was to make the liturgy more attractive; the second, to promote and improve religious education,” said Mother María de Foy, director of religious education in the two parishes and the local superior of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará.
His direct participation in each of the ministries achieved a “revitalization of the groups, lending more excitement to parish life and promoting the joint work of a parish identity, making a great spiritual family in order to be more partners and work as a team,” added Fr. Santoianni.
By his example, Fr. Lopresti showed the importance of prayer. Every day, Mother Foy said, he made a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament, focusing his prayer on “more priestly vocations.”
Another highlight was his initiative to catechize children with special needs. These changes, especially at St. Anthony Parish, led to an increase each year in the number of participants. He also developed his education efforts at the Kino Catechetical Institute, where he taught a course on Social Doctrine, and through some programs on En Familia Radio.
Carlos Cruz, a member of the Immaculate Heart youth group and choir, expressed his gratitude for the changes in the lives of the parish’s youth and “the gains of learning to grow in faith and receiving grace.”
Julián Sodari, the president of the parish council at St. Anthony, also emphasized that “we’re not going to forget him because it was his intelligence and wisdom that helped us grow spiritually.”
— By Francisco Jáuregui, The Catholic Sun.