Rev. Alfred F. D’Alonzo, C.S.C., 88, died Friday (June 27, 2014) at Holy Cross House.
He was born on July 16, 1926, to Modestino and Michelina (Stanziale) D’Alonzo, in Orange, N.J. He graduated from Orange High School in 1944.
Fr. D’Alonzo entered the University of Notre Dame in 1944. He was a member of the Fighting Irish football team. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on July 1, 1944, and attended Naval Officers’ Training School. Fr. D’Alonzo was honorably discharged on July 1, 1946, and entered the Congregation of Holy Cross on Aug. 15, 1946. He made his first profession of vows on Aug. 16, 1947. Fr. D’Alonzo graduated from Notre Dame in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He professed final vows on Aug. 16, 1950. He studied theology at Holy Cross College, Washington, D.C., from 1949-1953, during which he also served as assistant chaplain at the National Training School for Boys, a federal correctional institution in Washington.
Fr. D’Alonzo was ordained on June 12, 1953. He served as prefect of discipline and a teacher at Fr. Baker High School in Lackawanna, N.Y., from 1953 to 1956. Fr. D’Alonzo earned a master’s degree in educational administration and sociology from Notre Dame in 1960. From 1956 to 1963, he served as vice principal and teacher at Notre Dame High School, Bridgeport, Conn., where he also was assistant superior. During that time, he also was a chaplain to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
From 1963 to 1965, Fr. D’Alonzo served as the Holy Cross brothers’ chaplain while he was pursing advanced studies in educational administration, supervision and psychology at Fordham University, Bronx, N.Y. Fr. D’Alonzo also was a part-time school counselor at Mt. Carmel School in the Bronx. He served as headmaster and religious superior at St. Peter’s High School, Gloucester, Mass., from 1965 to 1969.
From 1969 to 1971, Fr. D’Alonzo worked as a research assistant during his doctoral studies at the University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. From 1970 to 1971, he served as a counselor and chaplain at Ottawa Teachers’ College. He earned his Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Ottawa in 1978. From 1971 to 1981, Fr. D’Alonzo was dean of student affairs at King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. In 1982, he returned to Moreau Seminary to work with Old Collegians and from 1986-1989 was a member of the professed formation team. Fr. D’Alonzo served as chaplain in the Campus Ministry Program at Notre Dame and assisted in the Married Student’s Village. In 1986, he was appointed to serve as director of the Campus Bible Study. Fr. D’Alonzo also served on the parochial team helping in local parishes, particularly St. Peter’s Parish in LaPorte, Ind.
Fr. D’Alonzo also served as a counselor for student athletes. He was an assistant rector at Pangborn and Carroll Halls at Notre Dame from 1989 to 1994. He was a priest-in-residence at Carroll from 1994 to 1999 and moved back to Moreau Seminary in 1999. He moved to Holy Cross House in 2008. Fr. D’Alonzo celebrated his 60th anniversary of ordination in 2013. In 1995, Fr. D’Alonzo was awarded the Distinguished American Award by the National Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame.
Fr. D’Alonzo is survived by his brother, Frank; nieces Linda, Leonora and Kathy; nephews Frank Jr., Gary, Pete and Michael; and great-nieces and great-nephews, Nicole, Daniel, Christina, Michelle, Michelena, Felicia, Frank III, John, Matthew, Gabrielle and Michael.
The Visitation will be from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday (July 1, 2014) at Moreau Seminary, where there will be a Wake Service at 7:30 p.m. The Funeral Mass will be at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday (July 2, 2014) at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame. Burial will be in the community cemetery at Notre Dame. Kaniewski Funeral Home, South Bend, is in charge of the arrangements.
Memorial contributions in support of the mission and ministries of the Congregation of Holy Cross can be made to: United States Province of Priests and Brothers, Office of Development, P.O. Box 765, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0765 or online at donate.holycrossusa.org.
Wake Eulogy by Rev. Randy Rentner, C.S.C.
July 1, 2014
Greetings to all the family of Fr. Al, to all his friends and former students and to Fr. Al’s brothers in Holy Cross. I first met Fr. Al D’Alonzo back in 1984, when I was 22 years old and he was even older than I am now when I first became a candidate right here at Moreau Seminary. Fr. Al was one of my chaplains during my years in seminary formation and I know that there are several generations of Holy Cross priests and brothers today who can tell many stories about Fr. Al, but I am particularly grateful that I am able to speak tonight because since I was 22, I have been a close friend of his and later an adopted cousin within the D’Alonzo family.
In fact, Al had a few important families throughout his life his natural family, a large and loving clan from New Jersey. His brother Frank, and his many nieces and nephews, and grand nieces and grand nephews, are the typical Italian New Jersey family: Strong Catholic faith, strong family ties, loud family gatherings where it’s almost impossible for even me to get a word in edgewise. And for some people who know me, that’s saying a lot!
Al’s family was always important to him. In fact, his niece Nora told me that, up until a couple years back when Al was no longer able to travel back to New Jersey for the holidays, she and her family had never gone to church for Christmas Day Mass, since Uncle Al had always offered Mass for the D’Alonzo clan in their home.
But as close as his family was to him, Al left home at a young age, the middle of his senior year, to join a new family that of Our Lady’s University. He was recruited while still in high school and came to Notre Dame halfway through the year. He actually got his high school diploma while already a freshman at ND and a lineman for the Irish! In fact, Al is the only Holy Cross priest I’ve ever heard about who played varsity for the Irish! Al was most proud of his alma mater and Notre Dame has always been a home to him. Getting a letterman’s jacket from Notre Dame and prestigious awards from the National Football Association and the College Football Hall of Fame were the culmination of his long-standing relationship as a Son of Notre Dame. And in fact, long before our provinces all joined together, Al had made sure that he would be buried here at Notre Dame, even though he had been a member of the former Eastern Province.
But along with his D’Alonzo family and the Notre Dame family, Al was also part of the Holy Cross family. After football and after his commissioning as an officer in the U.S. Navy, Al changed courses and joined Holy Cross. He worked at two different high schools and as the dean of students at King’s College. He was a man’s man and a priest’s priest. I’ve heard lots of stories of his imposing personality on the lives of his young charges. That was the way it was with Fr. Al. He always made an impression on people. Later, just before I got to Notre Dame, Al joined the seminary staff here at Moreau. A whole generation of priests in Holy Cross today remembers his strong personality and his eccentric presence, walking down the hall, knocking on random doors before prayer, calling out guys by their nicknames. You know you had really made an impression on Al if he gave you a nick name. There were some odd ones. Rob was Bobo. Charlie was Chucky-Babe. Tim was Beefy. There were many others. I was Wolfie! We had gone to see the movie “Amadeus” together and because I sang in the Chapel Choir and in the Notre Dame Chorale, he decided to name me after the character of Mozart in that movie. For years, he called for me down the hall, “Wolfie!” But even if he didn’t give you a nickname, Al might have just called you, affectionately or not, “The Boy!”
It was a great privilege in my life to have been part of all three of Al’s families Notre Dame, Holy Cross and as an adopted cousin within the D’Alonzo clan, even though I’m not Italian! Al used to encourage me to come visit with him back home on the Jersey Shore. Al’s love for the sun was well known, since he always got so leathery tanned each summer. And Al and I would often summer together in Cocoa Beach, sitting there baking in the summer sun of Florida. But I didn’t really want to fight the traffic to go to the Jersey Shore (after all, I had plenty of beaches to choose from my parents live at Virginia Beach and I was born on Nantucket and often spent summers there!) But, of course, I went to Jersey because it was great fun hanging out with Al and his brother Frank and his niece Nora and the rest of the family. After he had moved into Holy Cross House, Al’s love for the sun continued and I would take him to our property at LaPorte so that we could tan ourselves and enjoy the pool.
As for the Notre Dame family, I was never a football player, nor even much of a fan, but Al never held that against me because we shared a common love of Notre Dame. And as far as the family of Holy Cross is concerned, as crazy as it may have sounded to some, I often said to others during the seminary that I wanted to be Al D’Alonzo when I got older! Sometimes I think I still do. He was loud, bombastic, passionate, crazy-seeming at times always the center of attention when he was in the room. But he was a great priest, a compassionate man. And I’m convinced that my vocation was strengthened by his helpful advice, his great example, by his sincere devotion to Christ, his unending love of the Church and his deep reverence for Mary.
St. Iranaeus is famous for having said, and I’ll say it in Latin, since I’m sure that’s how Al would have done it: “Gloria Dei est vivens homo.” It’s sometimes loosely translated as, “The Glory of God is man fully alive!” Well, Al was a man fully alive. At 87, nearly 88, he lived a full life. Not just long, but full. He found joy in so many things. Over the years, he brought life to so many people on a daily basis. He saw God’s presence in enjoying other people, enjoying the sun, enjoying football, enjoying scholarship, enjoying prayer and even enjoying New Jersey! His life was filled with awe: awe for life, awe for God’s presence in each moment. And he shared his faith fully! When he preached, as many from Moreau at the time will remember, it was with passion and a studied emphasis on each word and expression. He would often Pound the Pulpit in his Passionate Purpose of Preaching the Power of God. For some reason, alliteration worked so well with his preaching style, although I’ve never tried it myself until this evening!
Once when I had the privilege of being in Rome with Al, he rented a car to take me, I swear, to every single church in Rome. Later, we were able to sit up near the dais in St. Peter’s Square for Pope (now Saint) John Paul II’s Wednesday audience. Al was walking with a cane then, so we borrowed a wheel chair to make the day easier for him, never realizing that two priests, one pushing the other in a wheel chair, would get whisked through the Vatican Museum and seated very near the Pope along with other folks in wheelchairs. After the Pope’s audience, all of us sitting up front were allowed to pass by the Pope for his blessing. It’s one of my greatest treasures to have a photo on my wall of the Pope blessing Fr. Al, as Fr. Al, always the priest, is raising his arm in return to bless the Pope! And I, terribly nervous about the whole affair, am caught mid-genuflection with eyes as wide open as a child’s on Christmas, not knowing what I was supposed to do when meeting the Pope. Al, of course, wasn’t nervous at all, since he saw God’s presence every day, in every moment, not just in the Pope. So it was the most natural thing in the world for him as a priest to bless the Pope as for the Pope to bless him!
These are the lessons I take from Fr. Al: To live life fully; to see God everywhere; to bless those who bless you; and to bless all who need blessing. He had been part of the Charismatic Movement and he saw God as a real and personal presence in his daily life. He was never ashamed or embarrassed about his faith. Frankly, he was never ashamed or embarrassed about anything. I will always remember him singing “Santa Lucia” at socials or just at dinner or walking down the hall, knocking on doors in the seminary. I’m sure he did that at Pangborn Hall and at Carroll Hall, at King’s, or at St. Peter’s High School as well.
Al’s unabashed love of life was his charm for me. I remember visiting Philadelphia for the day with him, our first trip together back when I was still a seminarian. For some reason, he decided to play the crazy uncle and I played the ever-patient nephew, constantly apologizing for his confusing, but mostly hilarious comments about the Liberty Bell and other sites we saw. Folks were somewhat taken aback, but were always gracious and friendly to us. And he enjoyed the playfulness of it. That playfulness lasted until the end for him. After Al had moved into Holy Cross House, when I still lived nearby, I would regularly take Al to Martin’s grocery down the street to shop for Peligrinos, fennel and Dove chocolates his favorites. Then we’d get a coffee and a pastry and if the weather were nice, we’d sit just outside by the parking lot, near where all the trucks would gas up with diesel fuel, and we’d enjoy pretending that we were back at the Piazza Navona in Rome, his favorite place on earth.
Al enjoyed pretending. He enjoyed playfulness. He enjoyed the sun. He enjoyed people. He enjoyed life. And I believe, as Iranaeus believed, that now that Al has died, he is now truly vivens homo, a man fully alive, alive in Christ. I can only imagine that as Christ now welcomes him home with a warm abbraccio, Al is embracing Him back with the same passion and joy that he had blessed the Pope.
Funeral Homily by Rev. Francis Cafarelli, C.S.C.
July 2, 2014
We extend again our sympathy and prayers to Fr. D’Alonzo’s brother and all the family and others who mourn the death of our brother and friend, Fr. Al. The Holy Cross Community here at Notre Dame and in the East remembers him as a lively and energetic companion and colleague in a variety of settings, mostly connected with the education and growth of young folks on high school and college campuses. Al was also, and most importantly, someone who was serious about his faith, its development and strengthening, and concerned to share that faith in many and various ways with others, on campuses and in parish and other settings.
In the passage which precedes today’s Gospel reading from John, Jesus, strangely it seems, does not hurry to the place where his friend is ill, but delays and then goes to Bethany arriving indeed after the burial of Lazarus. But, this is not strange at all, as Jesus wants to use this event as a moment to make clear, or clearer, who He is and why He has come into the world and into the lives of those who are on the scene.
Lazarus’ sister Martha goes out to meet Jesus and makes what was probably not a shocking observation that her brother would not have died if Jesus had been on the scene earlier; and, she observes that even with his death, Jesus can obtain new life for him. In this conversation, Jesus makes declarations about who He is and what it means to be in His company when He replies to Martha’s worry and request with His declaration: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” Jesus asks Martha if she believes this and she replies: “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” (John 11: 21-27)
In this event and exchange, Jesus gives us much of what is necessary for us to hold in faith our faith and the faith of Fr. Al: All of us who believe will not die finally but will have eternal life. We will have this because He has come from God precisely to accomplish the resurrection of the dead and the salvation of those who have lived, have believed, have not always lived according to the rules of the game, so to speak, and yet who persevere because they know, deep down, that the reply of Martha is also true. Jesus in the Son of God, the Messiah; He is the one anointed by the Father and sent on the mission to take on our human nature, to call us to His way of life and to His suffering and death, and finally to His resurrection our resurrection when the Kingdom comes into full being and we are fully body and spirit with our God.
St. Paul has given us a cosmic view of this matter when he tells us in the first reading today that those who believe, who are lead by the Spirit, are the children of God and the children must be with their Father. And, because we are children and because we believe in the Son of God, we are His brothers and sisters, we are heirs to the Kingdom which is His in His now-glorified humanity in the glory of His divinity. St. Paul makes it very practical and this gives us hope in our trouble and in our sorrow. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God.” (Romans 8:14-19) The fall into sin is effective and has effect not just for we who inherit that fall, but for the whole creation. We and the creation are from God. We and the creation have been changed by the entrance of the slavery of sin into our lives and the life of the world; but we and the world live in the hope of the promise. The Spirit lives in us the spirit of the Father and the Son, and in this living with us gives us the hope and the final reality that we will be made whole, that the creation will be made whole and because of our faith we too will be called forth from the tomb, leave aside the sufferings and the darkness of our previous lives, and will find in the presence of God a new and perfected life in and with the Father, Son and Spirit.
Fr. Al, it seems to me carried, on in his life his personal life and his life of mission to others in a way that opened himself to that Spirit and led him times without number to cry out “Praise the Lord.” How many people he must have brought along by his own deep faith and his assurance shared with others that the promise of God, made in Christ, would be fulfilled in those who believe. A new life, a peaceful life, one that had been prepared for in this life by our willingness to suffer along with Christ (as Al has done these last few years) to suffer along because that is the way of the Savior, the Son; the way shown to Al and to us by the Spirit who leads us faithfully in the path of resurrection and eternal life.
The promised new life in which Al believed would be one where we will be free from the “slavery to sin” of which Paul speaks, and, free from the sufferings of our bodies. There will be no need for a speeding three-wheeled scooter for use indoors, nor for a cane that can be used for support and to clear the way to salvation, one always presumed.
We join together today to pray for our brother and friend, Fr. Al D’Alonzo, C.S.C., that he has achieved now the freedom of the children of God; and, we pray that he will pray for us that we might do the same.