Fr. Francis Cavallo, Xaverian Missionary in the US in the 1950’s and 60’s, Passes Away at 104

On Tuesday morning, February 6, 2024, at 2:00 a.m., our confrere Fr. Francesco Cavallo died in the Xaverian House in Salerno, Italy. He had turned 104 a month earlier, having been registered on January 2, 1920 in Bari, Italy, but was actually born on November 16, 1919. Fr. Francis: “The person who went to the Registry Office declared that I was born on January 2, 1920, in order to delay by a year my military service, which at that time was compulsory for all young people.” He was the oldest confrere in the Congregation.

Francesco attended elementary school and the “Giulio Cesare” Technical Institute in Bari (1926 – 1939), obtaining a diploma in Accounting.

On August 14, 1940, after asking for information, encouraged and advised by Monsignor Augusto Casadei, then personal secretary of the Archbishop of Bari, he entered the Institute (San Pietro in Vincoli). Here he made his first religious and missionary profession on 8 September 1941). Profession number: 293.

He completed his high school studies in Parma (1941-1943).

For health reasons, his superiors sent him to Policastro (Salerno, Italy). He attended the first year of theology at the apostolic house of Massa Lucana (Vallo della Lucania, Salerno, 1944-1945). He attended the second and third years of theology in Parma (1945-1947). He made his perpetual profession in Parma on 5 November 1946. Here he was also ordained a priest (17.08.1947).

In 1947 he was sent to continue his formation in the USA where he attended the last year of theology in Brighton, at the Major Seminary of Boston, USA.

In the USA he held various positions: bursar of the regional house of Holliston and then rector of the apostolic house of Holliston; Deputy General Delegate and then Advisor to the General Delegate. From 1956 to 1960 he was rector of the community of Franklin, Milwaukee.

In 1960 he was assigned to Sierra Leone where he served as parish priest in Lunsar.

In 1961 he was recalled to Italy for the service of Master of Novices in Nizza Monferrato. Here he is also rector and bursar. From 1969 to 1970 he spent some time in the ministry in Massa and Cozzile (Pistoia, Tuscany).

From 1970 to 1971 Fr. Francis is in Piacenza with the formation community of Adult Vocations. Here he was in charge of the Church of Santa Chiara.

From 1971 to 1972 he was in Rome (Via Nullo) to study Spiritual Theology at the theological faculty of the Teresianum

In 1972 he was in Parma as an assistant in the Mission Office.

From 1973 to 1981 he was in Massa and Cozzile for the service of rector. In 1979 he was appointed exorcist by Msgr. Giovanni Bianchi (bishop of Pescia – Tuscany), a position confirmed by other bishops. He was, in fact, an exorcist in Tuscany, in the sanctuary of Montevergine (Avellino) and in the sanctuary of Pompeii (Naples).

In 1981 he was assigned to the Xaverian community of Salerno. In Salerno he held various positions: ministry of the apostolic house (1981-1985); residing in Aversa, he was Episcopal Secretary to the residential Bishop, Msgr. Giovanni Gazza left (1985-1993). Since 1993, Fr. Francis continued his commitment to the ministry of exorcism and spiritual direction until a few weeks ago.

May he rest in peace.

I am asked to say something about my life. What shall I say? I did not know St. Guido M. Conforti, who died about ten years before I entered our Novitiate house. However, I had the grace to know the style of life that he instilled in the members of the Xaverian Institute that he founded: a style of life that consists in assiduous prayer and in the commitment to cultivate an ever growing loving intimacy with Christ present in the Eucharist. From this commitment flows the missionary desire to make Jesus Christ known and loved by all peoples. I remember that in the 1940s the chapel of our Mother House in Parma was not devoid of adorers. Being close to Christ is heaven on earth and it is also the reason for making Jesus known: “may our Lord Jesus Christ be known and loved by all“. (from a handwritten message, October 21, 2022)

The celebration of Easter suggests to me this invocation: O Jesus, we implore you: grant that my life and that of all my confreres may be a constant hymn of love and gratitude to you. You have given us everything and you always give us everything. Make us yours in time and eternity. You are infinite goodness. We want to live and die for You, in You, loving You. O what grace, what grace, what grace! Best wishes for a Happy Easter to all my Xaverian confreres. (Handwritten message on the occasion of his 103rd birthday, Salerno, Italy)

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