By Matthew Gambino | Catholic News Service
PHILADELPHIA -- Bishop Louis A. DeSimone, retired auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia and pastor emeritus of St. Monica Parish in South Philadelphia, died Oct. 5 at St. Thomas Monastery in Villanova following a brief illness.
He was 96, and the third oldest Catholic bishop in the United States.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated Oct. 10 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput will be the principal celebrant.
"I was saddened to learn of the death of Bishop DeSimone," said the archbishop, who is attending the Synod of Bishops on young people in Rome and will be returning to Philadelphia for the funeral. "He was a man of great energy, charity and joy who deeply touched all those he met in tremendously positive ways. Daily, he lived out his episcopal motto, 'Servus Tuus' ('Your Servant'), in his words and actions."
He asked the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to offer prayers for Bishop DeSimone and invited priests "to offer Mass for the happy repose of his soul."
"We are all grateful for the gift of his life and his selfless service. May God grant him eternal life and give peace and consolation to all those who mourn his passing," Archbishop Chaput said.
Bishop DeSimone was born Feb. 21, 1922, and raised in Bridgeport. After graduation from Bridgeport High School, he attended what was then-Villanova College.
With the United States embroiled in World War II, a young Louis DeSimone enlisted in the United States Army. Fluent in Italian, he was attached to the headquarters of the U.S. 5th Army and served as a translator with the rank of sergeant. For two years he saw active combat service during the North African and Italian campaigns.
While serving in Italy, military service took him to the Vatican where he met Pope Pius XII.
Upon his return to the United States, he was accepted as a seminarian at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and later ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on May 10, 1952, by Cardinal John O'Hara.
After ordination, Father DeSimone taught at St. Thomas More High School in Philadelphia and served as an assistant pastor at Annunciation B.V.M. and St. Donato parishes in Philadelphia. He also would go on to serve as an assistant pastor and pastor at the former SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish in Conshohocken.
In 1961 he became a member of the archdiocese's Executive Committee of the Catholic Charities Appeal. In 1971 he became director of Catholic Relief Services in the Philadelphia Archdiocese -- a post he would hold for 11 years. In 1975 Father DeSimone was appointed chairman of the Heritage Group Committee for the 41st International Eucharistic Congress, which was held the following year in Philadelphia.
Father DeSimone was named a monsignor by Blessed Paul VI March 22, 1976. That same year, he was appointed pastor of St. Monica Parish in South Philadelphia. He would serve as the beloved pastor there for 25 years.
On June 27, 1981, he was named auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia by St. John Paul II. He was ordained a bishop Aug. 12, 1981, at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul with Cardinal John J. Krol as the principal consecrator and Bishops John J. Graham and Martin N. Lohmuller serving as co-consecrators.
In his retirement Bishop DeSimone remained active in the life of the church and was as generous in charity as he was in friendship with many people in the archdiocese and beyond.
Gambino is director and general manager of CatholicPhilly.com, the news website of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.