Thursday, July 4, 2013

Bishop Anthony G. Bosco

     The lead article in today's Greensburg Tribune Review is headlined "A life devoted to faith, education and wit".  I would add "service" to this description of Bishop Emeritus Anthony G. Bosco of the Diocese of Greensburg who died late Tuesday evening at his home in Greensburg.  He was 85 years old.  He was found by a neighbor who checked in on him, sitting in his chair where he had been watching the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game, which he regularly did.  Bishop Bosco served as the third bishop of Greensburg from 1985 until 2002 when his retirement was accepted.  When he came to us he said that we were getting a fifteen year warranty on him, but in reality we added almost two more years extension until his replacement was named.

     Bishop Bosco was a Pittsburgher, born on the North Side and ordained for the Pittsburgh Diocese.  He served briefly in a parish before administrative work and chaplaincies filled his day.  Ordained an auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh in 1970, he served as a shepherd for forty three years of his sixty one years of priesthood (and I thought that forty years of priesthood was a long time).  When he came to us he brought many years of experience in organization and administrative work, and was not afraid to plunge into whatever challenge that surfaced.

     He was a gifted communicator, and used the media and the upcoming computer craze to spread the Word.  Print, radio, TV, internet, personal presence were his forte.  He taught classes on line and at local colleges, and enjoyed the experience, although he did tell me not long ago that he finally gave up teaching in the classroom setting because today's young people are not above "cutting class".

     He had a special bond with young people, and was a hit at diocesan youth celebrations and other such events.  Kids understood and appreciated him maybe more than the adults.  I have had people say that they found him aloof or distant, but I found him friendly, although I believe he was shy and reserved by nature.  I also found that after retirement he became more relaxed and open.  He kept active with having a mass at the Cathedral often, the last one being just the weekend before.  He loved to go out to dinners and loved gathering with friends.

     He had a great wit that was sometimes missed.  I remember watching the proceedings of the Bishops' meetings when he attended and having him stand and make a point or ask a question, always including a story or a joke of sorts.

     I have four brief memories of his kindness that I want to share.  While in Masontown we placed a statue of Mary and child in the Church yard (I included a picture a few posts ago).  We dedicated it on Mothers' Day of that year and invited Bishop Bosco to dedicate the statue.  He graciously accepted, and even though his Mom was still living, he spent a great part of the day with us.  He kindly accepted the flowers that we gave him to give to her.  It was a grand occasion.
     One year three of us priests from the Diocese (Fathers Rom Simboli, Chet Raimer and myself) were visiting Rome.  He was also in Rome at the time.  We met and he took us to a favorite restaurant of his for dinner and we stopped for some gelatto on our walk back to his place.  He was very kind and very relaxed with us.
     While in Scottdale we began our 125th Anniversary year celebrations with a Mass that we invited him to share with us.  Afterwards we had a great reception on the grounds.  While mingling, he was confronted by a determined and irate parishioner who was sharing her opinion with him.  He was cornered until I came to the rescue.  Instead of being upset, set simply said that he found her "intense".  He was glad to be rescued - that was not the time or place.
     During retirement his dear pet dog and friend, Joshua, died.  They had been together for years.  I mentioned it to my sister, Janie, who also has a pup.  She sent him a short note of sympathy.  Sometime later, while at home, the phone rings and Janie picks up.  It was Bishop Bosco calling to thank her for her thoughts and prayers and to ask how she was doing.  She was floored and very impressed.  He looked up the number and took the time.

     Bishop Bosco and I did not always agree (who does with their boss?) but I consider him a friend and brother in the priesthood.  As the Trib headline stated, he truly lived a life devoted to faith, education and wit and of course to service of God and the People of God.  May the Lord grant him eternal rest, and may the angels lead him to paradise.  Pray for repose of his soul.

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