John M. Positano, O.S.A.

1908 – 1978 (December 26)

John M. Positano was born on May 6, 1908, in Freeland, PA, on of three sons and three daughters of Angelo Positano and Isabella DeFina. After graduating from high school John decided to dedicate himself to the study of music, mastering especially the clarinet. He soon developed a first-class band which he directed under the name of Jack Foster. With this group of musicians, he gained fame in Greenwich Village, New York. He was always a devout Catholic and, in spite of his success as a musician, his mind turned toward religion and in the early 1930s he asked to be admitted into the Order. He was accepted, and after completing his novitiate he made his profession of simple vows on September 10, 1934. He studied at Villanova College, receiving his BA degree, and at Augustinian College, Washington, DC, receiving his theological training. He also studied at Saint Serafic College, Bronx, NY. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 30, 1942, by Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York, in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.

Father John was first assigned to Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish, Philadelphia, PA, where in addition to his work as a parish priest, he devoted much time with an organized group of musicians in entertaining young men and women in the Armed Services. He was next assigned to Holy Rosary Parish, Lawrence, MA, and, in 1958, as pastor to Saint Mary Parish, East Vineland, NJ, where he made renovations to the church and built the parish school. In 1967 he was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Pompeii Parish, also in East Vineland, NJ, where he completed work on the new church. In 1970 he was assigned in residence to Saint Augustine Preparatory School, Richland, NJ, from where he was able to carry on his work as Mission Moderator and director of the Augustinian Missions in the Andes in Peru. Father John continued to visit hospitals, prisons, and orphanages, and was very much in demand for celebrations of every nature, both civic and religious. He was moderator of the Vineland, NJ, regional PTA, and director of development of the Augustinian Vice Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel, a member of the Catholic War Veterans, and National Chaplain of the Italian War Veterans. In 1977 he was assigned in residence at Our Lady of Pompeii Church, East Vineland, NJ, and was able to continue his many good words of service to the Church and people.

On December 3, 1978, after a clarinet performance for the annual Saint Augustine Prep School Gala, he suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized. Despite signs of improvement toward Christmas, he died in the early morning of December 26, 1978, at the age of 70. The news of his death brought messages of condolence from many places throughout the United States and Europe. Father John’s funeral was celebrated at Our Lady of Pompeii Church, after which he was buried in the Augustinian section of Saint Mary Parish Cemetery, East Vineland, NJ.