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Msgr. Dino Lorenzetti 1921-2023


Msgr. Dino Lorenzetti, eldest priest of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese, whose priesthood spanned 70 years at several parishes and who headed the Office of Family Life for 20 years, died July 12, 2023. He would have celebrated his 102nd birthday on July 23. He lived at O’Hara Residence for retired clergy in Tonawanda.

Msgr. Dino Lorenzetti

Born in Buffalo, the son of parents from Italy, he was a graduate of Hutchinson Central High School. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, fulfilling assignments in Africa and Italy, 1941- 45. When he returned, he began studies at Christ the King Seminary, then located at St. Bonaventure University, and was ordained on May 30, 1953.

While pastor of Holy Cross Church in Buffalo, he welcomed the fledgling Head Start federally-funded early childhood development program to open there in 1969. Holy Cross Head Start developed into one of the most successful, longest-running school readiness programs in the nation, having served many thousands of children. It has expanded into six current Buffalo locations, including the first site at Holy Cross, 150 Maryland St.

Msgr. Lorenzetti was a longtime pastor of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church in Orchard Park. He led efforts to purchase a former West Seneca school building to establish the parish school. It thrived to rank among the largest grade schools in the diocese. He also served at St. Mark’s in Rushford, Christ the King in Snyder, St. Martha’s in Depew, and Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Mary of Sorrows and St. Louis in Buffalo.

As Family Life director, he oversaw programs and educational resources for parents, children, young adults and the bereaved. In 1975, Pope Paul VI appointed him spiritual advisor to the National Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Guilds, which he served until 1983. He was invited to India to address the 1978 world conference of physicians, when Mother Teresa and he were award recipients. In the 1970s, he lectured on family life education for the U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy in the Alaskan Command.

There were nine popes and 10 bishops of Buffalo during his lifetime.

Known for his warmth, enthusiasm and upbeat personality, Msgr. Lorenzetti valued time with families. He was a respected colleague and mentor to fellow priests. “Dino loved being a priest,” said Father Richard A. Reina, a close friend. “His compassion and humanity drew others to Christ, who was at the heart of his life. The joy he expressed was an inspiration to many young men considering priesthood. I know it was for me.”

In 2015, he co-authored “The Agony of Betrayal,” about losing his life savings to a con man who had gained his trust. Book sales benefitted Catholic Charities.

With Naval Park Board Chariman Don Alessi by his side Msgr. Dino J. Lorenzetti, speaks during a ceremony where he was inducted into The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park Wall of Honor in 2017. (Photo by Dan Cappellazzo)

After retiring at age 75 in 1996, he continued ministry throughout Western New York, saying Mass and administering sacraments. Until shortly before his death, he offered weekly Masses at both St. John the Baptist Church in Kenmore and at St. Martha’s in Depew.

He especially treasured being invested in the Franciscan Friars habit and affiliation with their Holy Name Province. Among other honors are the Curé of Ars Award, the Bishop’s Medal, St. John Neumann Award, Judge John D. Hillery Foundation Award, and the Christopher Award from the Catholic Youth Organization. His name is on the Wall of Honor at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park.

He is survived by nieces and nephews.

Msgr. Lorenzetti will lie in repose at St. John the Baptist Church, 1085 Englewood Ave., Kenmore on Sunday, July 16, from 3-6 p.m. and then again on Monday, July 17, from noon-1:15 p.m. followed by a funeral Mass with Bishop Michael W. Fisher as the main celebrant.