Our Augustinian Community
The South Philadelphia area is served by a number of Augustinian Friars, four of whom have been assigned to be on site here at the Shrine for sacramental ministry to the faithful. They celebrate Mass, offer reconciliation, provide tours, bless articles purchased in the gift shop, and are a welcoming presence to the Shrine community and visitors.
FR. WILLIAM REcchiuti, OSA
Fr. Recchuti was born and raised in Philadelphia, graduated from St. Thomas More H.S., entered the Augustinian Novitiate in 1954 and was ordained at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. on June 5, 1961.
Upon completion of Theology studies in 1962, Fr. Bill's first assignment was to a teaching apostolate at Msgr. Bonner H.S. After twenty-six years at Bonner, he was assigned to parish ministry, first for ten years in Flourtown just outside Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia and then for six years in Upstate New York. In 2006 he returned to his hometown of Philadelphia and was assigned to St. Rita’s where he currently serves in pastoral ministry and as Prior of the Augustinian Friars community that ministers at St. Rita’s.
“In reference to the many virtues of St. Rita, I see a virtue which may not be as prominent as her charism of reconciliation or her devotion to the Lord’s passion but nevertheless is very applicatble to religious. I call it the virtue of St. Rita’s “humility of adaptablility.” St. Rita in her humility, adapted herself to serve God in all the circumstances of the lay state (single, married, widowed) and in the religious state. Accordingly St. Rita teaches all Augustinian religious, including myself, to minister the salvation of the Lord, Jesus to all kinds of people, of all ages, in all kind of circumstances.”
FR. DanIEL McLaughlin, OSA
Fr. Dan was born in Philadelphia, baptized at St. Edmond’s Parish and later moved to Delaware County. A member of the parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Darby, he attended the parish school and Monsignor Bonner High School, graduating in 1969. He then attended the College of Steubenville in Ohio, graduating with a B.S. in Business Administration in 1973. Fr. Dan entered the Augustinians because the friars who taught at Bonner gave a great example of brotherhood and shared community life.
Fr. Dan entered the Order in 1975 and professed vows in 1976, before attending the Washingon Theological Union and then being ordained in 1983. He served at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish High School in the Bronx for seven years as a teacher of theology, before transferring back to the Philadelphia area. He continued his teaching tenure at his Alma Mater, Monsignor Bonner High School, for 19 years as a teacher of theology and as a school administrator. He also created the Computer and Amateur Radio Club.
After Bonner H.S. Father served as associate pastor at the Shrine of Saint Rita in Philadelphia. He now continues to serve in the South Philadelphia Augustinian Community. Father Dan’s duties are to celebrate Mass, hear confessions, give guided tours to visitors, and visit the sick at home and at the nearby Methodist Hospital.
An avid photographer, Father says: “I enjoy photographing worshippers and the sacramental events they attend; their images express the depth of faith in action. The photographs portray the life of the Shrine and are a visual way of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ." His photographs appear regularly in the Peacemaker magazine, on the Shrine website and social media pages, and in Augustinian publications. hotography of Father Dan can be viewed at: www.fatherdan.net.
"I am happy to be a member of Augustinian community at the Shrine of St. Rita. Many of my relatives were baptized or married here, and have worshiped here. I admire the virtue of St. Rita's perseverance in prayer. Rita did not hesitate to prayerfully discuss all of her thoughts and questions with God and showed patience when she did not understand His will."
FR. JAmES Spenard, OSA
Though a ‘brothers’ boy’ at LaSalle Institute in Troy, NY during his high school years, Father Jim’s earliest experience of our Catholic Faith came from his mother’s devotion and from the Augustinians in his home parish of Saint Mary of the Assumption in Waterford, NY. In the home and serving at the altar a vocation to the priesthood and the Augustinian life was born. Thanks to the generosity of Bishop Edward Maginn, who himself had grown up under the care of Augustinians, his ordination to the priesthood and first Mass took place in 1972 at Saint Mary’s where he had been baptized, confirmed and made his first holy communion and served at the altar.
Father Jim’s assignments as an Augustinian priest brought him briefly to Saint Denis, Havertown, and then on to Carthage, NY where he worked as a young priest for five years, and later was pastor of St. James and its two mission parishes for 19 years; to Hoosick Falls, NY for both parochial and high school work, and ultimately to Troy, NY, for 18 years as pastor of Saint Augustine’s Church, the first Augustinian foundation of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova in the north country.
While a devotee of Saint Rita since his youth, thanks especially to Father Francis Diehl, OSA, who taught all his parish school kids about our patron, Father Jim’s appreciation for our saint has grown exponentially since his assignment to the Shrine.
"The virtue in Rita which resonates the loudest for me is this: that in every vocation in which she found herself – daughter, wife, mother, widow, religious sister, and even in suffering – Rita gave it her best shot in the hopes of being a force for good… of being a blessing to someone. She carried on her parents’ legacy of bringing peace and reconciliation, kicking it up to new levels in dealing with things seemingly impossible. Bearing the thorn-wound seems a sign of her commitment to being an instrument of God’s peace."
FR. Robert Guessetto, O.S.A.
Fr. Guessetto was baptized in Holy Rosary Parish in Lawrence Massachusetts, son of an Italian father and a French-Canadian mother. He attended the parish grammar school, which greatly shaped his faith and vocation. He entered the Augustinian Order in 1970 after attending Central Catholic High School, beginning his novitiate year in New Hamburg, New York. After first profession the following August, he began studies at Villanova and then moved on to Washington for theological studies. He professed Solemn Vows in 1977 and was ordained in Christ the Teacher Chapel at Merrimack College on August 25, 1979.
When traveling home during formation years and visiting his grandmother, Fr. Guessetto would see from her window the Hispanic community gathering for Mass at the former Immaculate Conception Church in Lawrence. That image and his experience working in a Vacation Bible School program with predominantly Hispanic children during his summers confirmed my desire to work in parochial ministry. His first assignment of 15 years at the then St. Mary/Immaculate Conception Parish in Lawrence, followed by three years of parochial ministry at Our Mother of Consolation Parish in Chestnut Hill (Philadelphia) Pennsylvania.
In 1997, Fr. Guessetto began his work in formation at Augustinian College in Washington, D.C. before moving to Rome, Italy for 13 years, serving as Director of Formation at Collegio Santa Monica, the Order’s international house of studies on the property of the General Curia and the Augustinian Patristic Institute. He then returned to the United States, stationed at St. Augustine Friary in Chicago and working with student friars in formation from all three USA Augustinian provinces. Beginning in summer of 2017, Fr. Guessetto was transferred here to Philadelphia to minister at the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia.