To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
BY MARIA CAULFIELD
While representing the Holy See at
the United Nations, Msgr. Anthony Frontiero walked
the halls of government power and met with diplomats from around the world,
seeking to defend the dignity of the human person and the interests of the
poor. As exciting and important as this work was, he says, “being
a pastor has taught me the best of what it means to be a priest.”
In 2002, after three years with
the Holy See’s U.N. mission, he was appointed pastor
of St. Pius X Church in Manchester,
N.H., where he has shepherded a
parish of 1,600 families. “I love my parish,” he says. “The people have loved
and supported me as a family. I am richly blessed.”
So it was with mixed emotions that
Msgr. Frontiero received a new assignment at the Vatican. Late
in June he left his parish to begin work for the Pontifical Council for Justice
and Peace in Rome.
“As humbled and honored as I am to
be appointed to the pontifical council, I am very sorry to be leaving my
people,” he told the Register.
If the people of Manchester want to “blame” anyone for the
loss of their pastor, it could be Cardinal Renato
Martino, director of the Council for Justice and Peace. He was head of the Holy
See’s Mission to the
United Nations in New York City
when Msgr. Frontiero was an attaché for the mission.
“My former work with Cardinal
Martino at the Holy See’s mission was probably a
factor,” says Msgr. Frontiero. “The work I will be
doing is much the same: issues of war, poverty, human rights, human dignity and
various political situations throughout the world.”
Manchester parishioners will miss Msgr. Frontiero even as they wish him well in Rome.
“He has meant everything to the
parish,” says Donna Dukeshire, the parish secretary.
“He has ministered to everyone 150% of the time. The parish has grown by leaps
and bounds since he’s come here. The kids are devastated that he is leaving. He
has a great rapport with everyone from the toddlers to the schoolchildren,
right on up to the teenagers, adults and the elderly. I can’t think of anyone
who has not been touched by his ministry.”
He is popular even though he
doesn’t always give people the easy answer they may want to hear, Dukeshire added.
“He is highly intelligent and a
very good communicator,” she noted. “He doesn’t pull punches.”
Norman and Shirley Lepine have known Msgr. Frontiero
from the time he was in the local public high school with their two sons. “He
was in the high school band and so were our sons,” Norman recalls. “We’re almost like his second
parents. We’ve been close to him and he’s always been like part of the family.
We can’t say enough about him. The people of the parish are absolutely in
son, Stephen, was ordained in May at the age of 37 for the Diocese of
Manchester, largely through the influence of Msgr. Frontiero,
who was head of the diocesan vocations office. “They go back about 25 years
together, and they are both jubilant that our son has gone on for ordination,” Norman adds.
was ordained in 1991. He served in the cathedral in Manchester
for three years, and then was appointed secretary to the late Bishop Leo O’Neil
From 1997-99 he completed studies for a licentiate in sacred theology at The
Catholic University of America in Washington,
D.C. After that, he moved to New York City to work with the Vatican’s U.N. mission.
“I represented the Holy See in the
hammering-out sessions, working on the language of the many documents,” he
recalls. “This was so critical because, once these documents reached consensus,
they would become powerful instruments in the world community and could be
used, especially in developing countries, to shape internal policies and
There was a constant battle to
keep abortion, or a code word such as “reproductive rights,” from being
recognized as a human right.
“The Holy See at the United
Nations, I think, is a sentinel keeping watch, helping the U.N. keep things in
perspective,” Msgr. Frontiero says. “The Church is an
expert in humanity. It has no political interests per se, no economic
interests, no military interests. We can focus in the
human person, human rights, the family, trying to protect the integrity of the
family, which is the basic unit of society.”
The interests and future of
humanity are at stake in all these issues,” continues Msgr. Frontiero.
“It was very difficult work, a battle, and we had to be constantly vigilant,
because of the strong interests seeking to change our basic structures and understandings.
In fact, most of the developed countries at the U.N. want a radical agenda that
is not in keeping with the Judeo-Christian ethic.”
Christi procession through the streets of Manchester on June 18 served as an unofficial
farewell to Msgr. Frontiero. People from many
parishes thanked him and wished him well. He and Father Jason Jalbert, the new vocation director, had organized the
procession as part of the diocese’s “Seventh Trumpet” Eucharistic adoration
“We’re trying to change the
culture here in the local Church,” Msgr. Frontiero
says. “People have to start desiring priests again, and the best way is to come
before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and bow down and worship.”
The monthly Seventh Trumpet series
is named for a passage in the Book of Revelation, when the seventh trumpet
blasts and all the kings of the world bow down to worship the Lamb.
who was ordained in 2003, says that, just as his vocation was encouraged by
Msgr. Frontiero, he will seek to plant the seeds of
life is caught up in Christ,” says Father Jalbert.
“When young men see this, they want the same. His priesthood has one purpose:
to draw you into the heart of Christ.”
Maria Caulfield writes from
Editor’s note: Do you know a young priest who excels at evangelization, catechesis and
Christian discipleship? Nominate him to be the subject of a Register Priest
Profile. E-mail email@example.com.