Father Ronald Pecci, OFM 1950-2022
Father Ronald Pecci, OFM, 71, a Franciscan friar with Holy Name Province for 42 years, 38 of them as an ordained priest, died on April 12, 2022, at Sharon Hospital in Sharon, Connecticut. His full rich friar life encompassed a broad range of ministries that included parish pastor for 12 years at St. Patrick in Buffalo and six years at St. Anne in Fair Lawn, New Jersey; formation work with friars, and a position on the provincial council. He also co-founded a lay-volunteer ministry that provides college graduates with the opportunity to spend a community service year among poor, marginalized and immigrant populations.
Of his pastoral and formation ministries, Father Pecci once wrote in an essay published in The Anthonian magazine, “I loved parish work. What diversity! I had the opportunities to teach children and adults, and to learn from the sages of the parish community. Then I was asked to work in the vocation ministry of the province, an opportunity to tell other people of the happiness of Franciscan life.”
Father Pecci was born on July 24, 1950, in Brooklyn, to Gabriel and Josephine (Alessi) Pecci and was baptized at a local parish. The family moved to Bergen County, New Jersey, where he attended Cresskill High School and was a member of the Carmelite Parish of St. Thérése of Lisieux. He earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from St. Bonaventure University. He also earned a master’s in biology at William Paterson College of New Jersey, and spent a few years in medical research in California before joining the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province.
Father Pecci was received into the Order of Friars Minor on June 25, 1978, at St. Francis Friary in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he made his first profession one year later. He professed his solemn vows in 1982, and was ordained to the priesthood on May 14, 1983, at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Father Pecci’s pastoral ministry began when he was assigned to St. Joseph Parish in West Milford, New Jersey, in 1983. Two years later, he joined the vocation team at the Holy Cross formation house in the Bronx, New York. In 1987, he was assigned to St. Patrick Parish in Buffalo, where he served as pastor and friary guardian until 1999. During that time, Father Pecci also served in his first of two terms as a provincial councilor of the HNP Provincial Council. He then moved to St. Anne Parish in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, to serve as pastor from 1999 to 2005.
After taking a sabbatical at St. Bonaventure University, where in 2008 he earned a master’s degree in Franciscan Studies at SBU’s Franciscan Institute, Father Pecci returned to Holy Cross as director of the province’s pre-novitiate formation program. He also served as spiritual assistant to a Secular Franciscan fraternity, novitiate director and friary guardian to a Secular Franciscan group, and director of postulants and liaison to the interprovincial novitiate.
He served as director of postulants at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Maryland, and as site-supervisor to the lay-volunteers of the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry at St. Anthony of Padua Friary in Camden, New Jersey.
He once said of this ministry: “I take great delight in encouraging young people. Working with the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry has been a great joy. It gives me an opportunity to directly promote the Franciscan spirit to people who are often hungry for it.”
Father Pecci is survived by his 100-year-old mother, Gloria Pecci, as well as siblings Raymond, Gail, James, Terryanne and Carol.
Father Pecci was interred at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa, New Jersey.