By Tony C. Diaz
Umatuna Si Yu’os
The Catholic Church in the Marianas is mourning the death of Msgr. Louis Antonelli who devoted 70 years of his life serving God in the priesthood, 46 of them with the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa in Rota.
Msgr. Antonelli lived to be 100.
Bishop Ryan P. Jimenez, D.D. of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa announced the death of the cherished priest in an official statement.
“With deep sorrow I received the news today, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, of the death of Msgr. Louis Antonelli, retired clergy of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa,” Bishop Ryan said.
“Msgr. Antonelli was 100 years and died on the island of Rota, MP,” Bishop Ryan added. “He lovingly served the people of God on Rota for 46 years in tenured assignments as pastor of San Francisco de Borja and San Isidro parishes.”
Bishop Ryan said Msgr. Antonelli’s dedication and service of 70 years in the priesthood will be remembered by many.
“His commitment to remain in the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa, and to be with the people of Rota through his retirement, surpasses any known clergy service record in the Commonwealth,” Bishop Ryan said. “We mourn his passing and celebrate his new life as he would have wished.”
Msgr. Antonelli was known as “Rota’s Pillar of Faith,” according to a 1996 article in Chalan Kanoa’s official newspaper, the Northstar.
Msgr. Antonelli was deeply loved on Guam as well, where he served for nearly 10 years starting in 1953. He was a strong, robust, outgoing, and very friendly priest who forged many friendships which have endured the ages.
The archdiocese issued this message: “On behalf of Archbishop Michael Byrnes and all the faithful on Guam, the Archdiocese of Agaña extends prayers and condolences to all Catholics in the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa on the passing of their beloved clergyman, Msgr. Louis Antonelli.”
“We give thanks to God for Msgr. Antonelli and extend prayers for him and to his family and loved ones,” the archdiocese said in its message.
Louis Antonelli was born Sept. 23, 1918 in Sheppton, Mass. He came from a family of six boys and two girls born to Aquilino and Victoria Antonelli.
He entered the order of Stigmatines in September 1940 and made his perpetual profession Sept. 9, 1946. He was ordained to the priesthood June 11, 1949 at South Natuck, Mass.
Father Antonelli’s first assignments as a priest kept him in parishes in Massachusetts from August 1949 to August 1953.
He crossed the vast ocean and traveled to Guam in 1953 where he embraced his first assignment here teaching the young men of Father Dueñas Memorial School from 1953 to 1959. Records indicate Father Antonelli left Guam but returned in 1970.
An important figure in the history of the Catholic Church in this region, Msgr. Antonelli was appointed the Rector of the Major Seminary in Tai on Guam in 1971. He was also the Director of the Diocesan Diaconate Program, guiding the first group of Catholic men on Guam to be ordained permanent deacons in then-Diocese of Agaña in 1973, under then-Bishop Felixberto C. Flores.
A strong, robust, outgoing, and very friendly priest, Msgr. Antonelli also served at the Agaña Cathedral, Santa Barbara Catholic Church in Dededo and San Vicente Catholic Church in Barrigada. He was assigned to Rota as Pastor of San Francisco de Borja parish in 1973.
Following his request, Msgr. Antonelli was buried within 24 hours of his death on Wednesday, Feb. 13. Bishop Ryan celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial at San Isidro Church in Sinapalu, Rota. He was buried at Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine in Patten Gogue, Rota.
The statement from Bishop Ryan said there will be a Tridentine Mass on the 9th day after his death at his place of burial. The diocese will announce the specific time in the near future.
Editor’s note – Guam Catholics who wish to share a few words or photos about Monsignor Antonelli are invited to send the remembrances to firstname.lastname@example.org, attention John Pineda. Thank you.