Aurelio M. Ciantar, O.S.A.

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1893 – 1980 (December 23)

Aurelio M. Ciantar was born on August 15, 1893, in the city of Vittoria, on the island of Malta, to Paul Ciantar and Mary Gatt. He entered the Order at the age of 19, and professed simple vows on October 19, 1913. He made solemn profession on October 22, 1916 and was ordained to the priesthood on May 29, 1920.

Soon after his ordination, Father Aurelio was sent to the United States to minister to the Maltese immigrants at Saint Augustine Church, Detroit, Michigan. In 1923 he was assigned to Saint Mary’s Church, Lawrence, Massachusetts, and then to Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he served as assistant pastor. In 1928 he was transferred to Our Lady of Pompeii Parish, East Vineland, New Jersey, and together with Father Eugene Fiteni, O.S.A., spearheaded the construction of the mission church in Mizpah, N.J. He renovated Saint Mary Church in East Vineland, and published the parish’s monthly bulletin. On March 8, 1930, he was named pastor of the parish. In 1938 he was assigned as pastor to Our Lady of Pompeii Parish, Dobbs Ferry, New York. During this time he was also a counselor of the Vice Province, as well as prior and treasurer of the local Augustinian community.

After 11 years in the United States, the Maltese provincial asked him to return home and assigned him as rector of the Basilica of Saint Augustine in Annaba, Algeria. He arrived there in February of 1939, but after a few months, requested and received permission to return to the United States and to his pastoral ministry there.

Father Aurelio, always young at heart and dedicated to pastoral ministry, remained active until 1978, when just as he was to celebrate his 85th birthday, he suffered a heart attack. He recovered some of his strength, but was transferred from the hospital to Cabrini Nursing Home in Dobbs Ferry. 

He succumbed to cancer and at the age of 87 and, after 60 years of ministry in the United States, died on December 23, 1980. The funeral Mass was celebrated in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., after which Father Aurelio was laid to rest in Saint Mary’s Parish Cemetery, East Vineland, N.J.