Former Greensburg Bishop Bosco dead at 85
Sister Lois Sculco enjoyed listening to Bishop Emeritus Anthony G. Bosco's homilies.
“I used to just love to go to his Masses because he would always say very funny things,” she said. “He was very witty.”
She attended a Mass celebrated by Bosco at Greensburg's Blessed Sacrament Cathedral on Saturday and stayed late to recall a memory with him afterward.
Bosco looked frail but still walked up and down the aisle greeting parishioners afterward, said Sculco, vice president for institutional identity, mission and student life at Seton Hill University.
It would be his last Mass.
Bosco, who served as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg from 1987 until his retirement in 2004, died unexpectedly in his Unity Township home Tuesday evening at 85.
His death left many in the diocese recalling with fondness a great communicator with a passion for education.
His successor, Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt, was shocked by the death of the man with whom he often shared lunch.
“This is a very sad moment for the Diocese of Greensburg and at the same time a historic moment,” Brandt said Wednesday during a news conference. “He was a very bright person, a man of eminent good common sense, a very spiritual person and a person gifted with a beautiful sense of humor, which could be acerbic at times, but very much on target.”
Bosco was born in New Castle on Aug. 1, 1927, to the late Joseph and Theresa Pezone Bosco and raised in Pittsburgh's North Side. After graduating from North Catholic High School, he attended the former St. Fidelis Seminary in Butler County and St. Vincent Seminary near Latrobe.
He was ordained a priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1952 by Bishop John Dearden at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland.
Eighteen years later, he was ordained a bishop there and served as an auxiliary bishop for the Pittsburgh diocese until 1987, when Bishop William G. Connare resigned and Bosco was named to lead the Greensburg diocese.
On Wednesday, many recalled Bosco's lifelong devotion to education that spanned the transition from traditional in-classroom instruction to the advent of online learning.
He taught “Religion, Medical Ethics and Marriage” at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh from 1957 to 1961 and in later years led a distance learning class for the University of Dayton.
While bishop of Greensburg, Bosco served as honorary chairman of the board of trustees at Seton Hill University in the city.
During that time, university officials routinely courted him to join the staff.
“Of course, he didn't have time at that point,” said Mary Ann Gawelek, provost and dean of the faculty.
That all changed in 2002 when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 75, she said.
As soon as Brandt was named bishop in 2004, Bosco became a distinguished visiting professor of religious studies and theology.
“The bishop was a man ... of deep spirituality, great intellect, terrific humor and enormous compassion,” Gawelek said. “When you think of a faculty member for a Catholic university, you can't top those qualities.”
Bosco taught one class each semester — “Faith, Religion and Society” — from August 2004 until May 2010.
During that time he would routinely come to campus early and chat with students, said Seton Hill President Emerita JoAnne Boyle.
“They signed up quickly when he was offering a class,” said Boyle, who retired from her presidency June 30. “He was a remarkable addition for us.”
Bosco engaged students as well as faculty, Sculco said.
“He used to have students to his house for lunch,” Sculco said. “He was a very pastoral man and a good listener.
“I just feel very sad about his death,” she said. “He was a great friend of Seton Hill ... a great adviser to me and a steadfast friend.”
While leading the diocese, Bosco started a capital campaign in 2000 that raised more than $28 million to establish endowments for parishes.
He embraced technology by overseeing the development of a diocesan website and provided commentary for the diocese's former radio newsmagazine.
His column, “A View From The Bridge,” which appeared in the diocesan newspaper, was popular among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
“He had a long tenure in leadership positions in the Catholic Church,” Brandt said. “He was an excellent communicator and an excellent educator.”
Bosco's 17 years as bishop were not without controversy. He closed several parishes in response to declining attendance, a move that drew sharp criticism.
Later, he was named as a defendant in a lawsuit that alleged sexual abuse by a diocesean priest who was later removed. The case was settled in 2006, according to court records.
In addition to his parents, Bosco was preceded in death by a brother, Joseph. He is survived by another brother, James, and his wife, Sharon, of Kalamazoo, Mich.; and several nieces and nephews.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.