LEFT TO RIGHT (FRONT): FR. JIM HALSTEAD, O.S.A.; FR. JOHN MERKELIS, O.S.A.; FR. TONY PIZZO, O.S.A.; FR. BILL LEGO, O.S.A.; FR. RICH YOUNG, O.S.A.; FR. RAY FLORES, O.S.A.; (BACK) FR. BERNIE SCIANNA, O.S.A.; BR. NICK MULLARKEY, O.S.A.; FR. JACK TIERNEY, O.S.A.
On Wednesday, June 8th, Very Rev. Anthony B. Pizzo, O.S.A. was installed for his second four-year term as Prior Provincial during an Evening Prayer service at St. Rita Shrine Chapel. Presided by Vicar General Fr. Joseph Farrell, O.S.A., the installation served as the centerpiece of the 2022 Provincial Chapter begun on June 6th on the campus of St. Rita High School in Chicago’s southwest side.
The Midwest friars were joined by an audience of friends, family, and benefactors to witness Fr. Tony open his second term and present the members of his newly appointed Provincial Council. Tasked by the Augustinian Constitution with assisting and advising the Prior Provincial in his governance, the Provincial Council consists of Fr. Bill Lego, O.S.A.; Fr. John Merkelis, O.S.A.; Fr. Bernie Scianna, O.S.A.; Fr. Ray Flores, O.S.A.; Fr. Rich Young, O.S.A.; Fr. Jack Tierney, O.S.A.; Secretary Br. Nick Mullarkey, O.S.A., and Treasurer Fr. Jim Halstead, O.S.A. Provincial Chapter delegates - comprised of 30 friars - had appointed this team through a private vote held the day prior.
“I am extremely grateful to my professed brothers and sisters who are here and all of you who have taken time to be with us this evening,” said Fr. Tony in the opening address of his second term. “Grace has sustained me along with the fraternal support of so many of the brothers and sisters, including the Prior General and the Vicar General. This support includes the entire Augustinian family, the Sisters, the affiliates, the Provincial Staff, our numerous and generous donors and all those associated with us as a Province and beyond.”
The voting body of priests and solemnly professed brothers of the Midwest Augustinian Province, including their Vicariate in Northern Peru, re-appointed Fr. Tony through a mail-in election held in December 2021. According to the Canons of the Augustinian Order, Prior Provincials are chosen by a simple majority through a democratic election in which each solemnly professed friar has an equal vote, with the option to abstain.
As Prior Provincial, Fr. Pizzo will continue to oversee all the activities of the Augustinians in the Midwestern United States, Canada, and Northern Peru, while maintaining his primary offices at the Province headquarters in the Beverly neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest Side.
Prior to his first election, Fr. Tony served for over a decade as Pastor of St. Rita Parish in Chicago (and Dean of Vicariate V-A), a predominantly Spanish-speaking parish, where he gained recognition for his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform with organizations such as Priests for Justice for Immigrants and the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Pastoral Migratoria ministry. In collaboration with Southwest Organizing Project and its member institutions, he also participated in affordable housing efforts, neighborhood safety issues and health care for low income families.
A native of Chicago’s Southwest Side, Fr. Pizzo was educated at St. Rene Goupil Parish elementary school and continued to JFK High School, before discerning a vocation with the Augustinians and attaining his undergraduate degree at Villanova University. He professed his vows to the Order in 1979 and received his Master of Divinity from the Catholic Theological Union of Chicago. In 1984, he was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Joseph Bernadin, receiving his first assignment as Parochial Vicar for St. Clare of Montefalco Parish in Michigan. A grandson of Italian immigrants, Fr. Pizzo also serves as Chaplain for the Italian America Executives of Transportation.