“A Magnificent Priestly Dynasty”

“A Magnificent Priestly Dynasty” January 17, 2009

During National Vocations Awareness Week, I’ve referred quite a bit to families with multiple vocations. As noted earlier, every diocese and religious community can fill in their own examples. (Over the years, it’s been estimated that nearly 350 Brooklyn priests had a relative previously ordained.) This photograph shows four brothers who all became Monsignors, the Arceses. Born in Arpino, Italy, five of the twelve Arcese children entered the service of the Church (four brothers and a nun). Gaetano, Vincenzo, Leopold and Alfonso came to America through the help of their uncle, a Franciscan working at New York City’s first Italian parish, St. Anthony of Padua. There was a real need for Italian priests to minister to the city’s growing Italian population. As confessor to Michael Corrigan, the Archbishop of New York, Father Julius Arcese had some clout. Two of the brothers, Gaetano and Vincenzo, became priests in the New York Archdiocese, while Alfonso and Leopold went to Brooklyn. All four became prominent leaders in the city’s Italian community. And I’m pretty sure four Monsignors in one family is still an unsurpassed record. When the last brother, Leopold, died in January 1970, he was hailed as the “last of what night well be called a magnificent priestly dynasty.”

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