Father Julio M. Ciavaglia, CRSP 1937-2023
Father Julio M. Ciavaglia, CRSP, rector emeritus of the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, died April 13, 2023, in Niagara Hospice House.
Born Nov. 5, 1937, in Niagara Falls to Pasquale and Lucia (Fabi) Ciavaglia, Father Ciavaglia graduated from Niagara Falls High School in 1957. He entered the Barnabite Novitiate in Lewiston in 1960. The next year, he traveled to Rome to complete his seminary studies at the Pontifical Urban University.
Father Ciavaglia was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on December 17, 1966. His assignments included teaching at Bishop Gibbons High School, serving as associate pastor at St. James Parish in Oakville, Ontario, and Assumption Parish in Elfrida, Ontario.
Father Ciavaglia began his Barnabite life in Lewiston at the very beginning of the Barnabites’ presence. He dedicated most of his priesthood to honor Our Lord and His Blessed Mother at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine. As a newly ordained priest, in addition to his spiritual duties, he revamped the shrine cafeteria. Later, he was named artist-in-residence, and was appointed director of the shrine in 1990. He held this position until January of 2020.
During his priesthood he studied sculpture, figure drawing, and stained glass, channeling his art skills into his priesthood to glorify God and raise people’s hearts toward God. He was known in Canada for his beautiful nativities. At the shrine, he instituted its Festival of Lights, where he designed its displays which were constructed by the shrine’s maintenance team. During his tenure, the shrine expanded its annual pilgrimages to include Vietnamese Day and Filipino Day and began its tradition of Healing Masses during the summer months.
Father Ciavaglia is survived by his brothers, John and Anthony.
Visitation will be on Wednesday, April 19 from 3-8 p.m. and Thursday, April 20 from 10-11:15 a.m. at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 1023 Swann Road, Lewiston.
The funeral Mass will be celebrated April 20, at Our Lady of Fatima at 11:30 a.m. Burial will follow in Barnabite Cemetery at Fatima Shrine.