Francis J. Fittipaldi, O.S.A.

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1924 – 1994 (July 15)

Francis Fittipaldi was born on October 7, 1924, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one of four sons and five daughters to Nicholas Fittipaldi and Grace Marrandino. Baptized in Saint Rita’s Church, Philadelphia, he attended Landreth Elementary School and Barrett Junior High School, graduating in 1939. That same year, at the age of fifteen, he applied to the Order as a postulant and was accepted at Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, New York. After the completion of his novitiate at Our Mother of Good Counsel, New Hamburg, New York, he professed simple vows on September 10, 1944 and three years later at Saint Mary’s Hall, Villanova, he took solemn vows. Frank graduated from Villanova in 1948 with an A.B. degree in philosophy and studied theology at Augustinian College in Washington, DC. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 5, 1951 by Bishop John McNamara in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC. In 1958, after completing summer school courses, he received his master’s degree in education from Villanova University.
Father Fittipaldi’s first assignment in 1952 was to the Universidad de Santo Tomas in Havana, Cuba, where for two years he taught religion, English, history and served as chaplain. In 1954, he was transferred to Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, DC, where he taught Spanish, religion and served as chaplain as well as moderator of the Fathers’ Club. In 1967, he was transferred to Monsignor Bonner High School in Drexel Hill, Pa., as an instructor in Spanish. Two years later Father Fittipaldi was appointed master of professed clerics at Saint Mary’s Hall, Villanova. This short but difficult assignment ended in December 1970, when at his request, he was reassigned to Monsignor Bonner, where he was to remain for the next seventeen years. Besides teaching all levels of Spanish, he served as chaplain and moderator of the tennis team among other activities. In 1979, Father Fittipaldi began a long, fifteen-year struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. Gradually, and with great reluctance, he was compelled to relinquish teaching and the celebration of public Masses on weekends. He began to visit and minister to the needs of the patients at the Delaware County Memorial Hospital.

In 1987, he was assigned to Saint Thomas Monastery, Villanova, where he could be cared for. He remained as active as possible, hearing confessions and ministering from a wheelchair. Always interested in gardening, he cared for the flowers outside the monastery and within his room. His classmate and homilist at his funeral, Father Bernard Lazor, O.S.A., aptly described Father Frank’s legacy to us as a “sacrament of suffering.” He died on July 15, 1994, in Bryn Mawr Hospital, at the age of sixty-nine.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on July 18, 1994 at Saint Thomas of Villanova Church. The celebrant was Father John Deegan, Prior Provincial. Interment was at the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Father Fittipaldi was a man of deep devotion and a traditional piety that was rooted in his immigrant family heritage. His many years of suffering from the debilitating disease that finally ended his life, he bore with great resignation and serenity.