Home Our Diocese City of Wilmington honors late Oblate Father Roberto Balducelli for his impact...

City of Wilmington honors late Oblate Father Roberto Balducelli for his impact in community, St. Anthony of Padua parish

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Fr. Roberto Balducelli celebrates mass celebrating the 70th anniversary of his ordination into the priesthood, Sunday, July 9, 2006. Dialog photo/Don Blake

WILMINGTON — The Italian Festival ends Sunday, June 16, with the city of Wilmington honoring the man who brought the festival to St. Anthony of Padua Parish 50 years ago. Mayor Mike Purzycki will join other city officials and religious leaders as a portion of the 1700 block of West Ninth Street will be dedicated as “Rev. Roberto Balducelli Way” in honor of the late longtime former pastor of St. Anthony’s.

The ceremony will take place at 1:30 p.m. and will include a proclamation from Purzycki declaring the day as “Rev. Roberto Balducelli Day” in Wilmington.

“A true Renaissance man and pillar of the community, Wilmington would be much worse off if it were not for Father Roberto’s vision and dedication — not only to the Italian immigrant population that settled on the city’s west side, but to the larger community and city as a whole,” Purzycki said in a statement.

Father Balducelli was born Aug. 10, 1913, in Italy and entered the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales after sixth grade. He was ordained in Fribourg, Switzerland, in 1936 and arrived in Wilmington a decade later, where he served as associate pastor at St. Anthony’s until 1959, when he became pastor.

Fr. Roberto Balducelli cuts his congratulations cake during a reception celebrating his 70th anniversary in the priesthood, Sunday, July 9, 2006. Dialog photo/Don Blake

In addition to his pastoral duties, Father Balducelli was a teacher, established a community center, built two schools, constructed an apartment building for seniors, opened a children’s camp, designed and implemented an urban renewal program in west Wilmington, began the Italian Festival and oversaw the Via Crucis. He semi-retired in 1988 but stayed busy until his death in 2013, just 100 minutes shy of his 100th birthday.

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