Delaware mourns beloved Wilmington church leader

Local and state leaders are joining the community in mourning the death of Father Roberto Balducelli.

Father Balducelli migrated to Delaware from Italy and served as the pastor and pastor emeritus of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington’s Westside neighborhood.

The beloved Wilmington church leader passed away Friday, just one day shy of his 100th birthday.

“He created a culture here,” said Father Nicholas Waseline, current pastor of the church. “A religious culture and a social culture in the sense that he built a parish where people could not only come for their religious and spiritual needs, but he was here to create for them a way for which many of their other needs could be met because they weren’t being met elsewhere.”

Attorney General Beau Biden remembered the pastor’s dedication to bettering the community.

“Father Robert made people’s lives better—whether it be in his church, in his city, or around the world. I especially admired his rare combination of humility, strength and faith—all of which will be missed,” Biden said.

Gov. Jack Markell said Father Balducelli left a lasting impression on those he met and worked with.

“In reflecting on Father Roberto’s life, many have told stories of his knack for requesting assistance for the many projects he undertook to help others,” Markell said. “What’s also clear from those stories is that those who were touched by Father Roberto gained more from their experiences with him than they could ever give through their work on new buildings or at his summer camp. My thoughts and prayers are with the Balducelli family and the many Delawareans who became part of his extended and lasting family established over the years.”

In addition to being a great leader, Father Balducelli was also a great architect.

“Father Roberto was deeply involved in the construction of Padua Academy and St. Anthony in the Hills, in addition to serving as a driving force in the development of the St. Anthony’s Italian Festival,” Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams said. “We join with many others, who have been touched by his words and deeds, in remembering all he has done for so many in our community and throughout Delaware. He has stood as a remarkable example of selflessness, charity and humility and he will be greatly missed by all.”

A viewing will be held Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Wilmington. A Mass of the Christian Burial will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the church.

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