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Meet Monsignor Turro, turning 100 and known for his brief and powerful homilies

JAMES TURRO

Tom Johnson | Twitter | Fair Use

Cerith Gardiner - published on 01/17/22

The learned and much-respected priest has left an impact on the parishioners and seminarians he's met.

At the end of the month, Monsignor Turro will be reaching the milestone birthday of a century. And most of his very long life has been devoted to serving God.

In an interesting article at New Jersey.com, Rev. Alexander Santora gives us a little insight into the very full life of the priest who he said was known for his very brief homilies of four or six sentences. The reason is equally brief, as the 99-year-old shared, “I fought against making the pulpit a classroom. I wanted it to be more of a conversation, though one-sided.”

It’s interesting to see that despite developing a wealth of knowledge in many languages accumulated over the years, including a doctorate in Germanics from New York University, Monsignor Turro has always opted to use his words sparingly. However, the brevity of his famous homilies, like this one for Easter shared in Santora’s article, have made an impact on all those who’ve listened:

Santorra also shared that Turro “was one of the best seminary lecturers I ever had, using an economy of words and never repeating himself.”

And thanks to his long active priesthood, Monsignor Turro was able to inspire the many seminarians to whom he taught New Testament courses at the Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University for over 60 years.

A fulfilling career

This work was still only a fraction of what he’s achieved in his busy life. He was also a director of the seminary’s library, which is not only now named after him, but also houses four books he authored: Prayer and Reflections: Path to Prayer (Paulist Press, 1962 and 1972), Ezekiel (Liturgical Press, 1967) and Conversion: Reflections on Life and Faith (Tabor Press, 1993).

Monsignor Turro also served on a few boards, including the Presbyteral (Priests) Council, the Priest Personnel Board, and the “Advocate” editorial board. Given his many years of life, his experience in the priesthood, and his impressive education (explained in greater detail in the original article), Turro has had some interesting reflections on how the Catholic Church has changed over the years:

I did not resent the Second Vatican Council. I did not foresee the end result. There was a loss of reverence which was palpable in the Catholic church before this happened.”

Now, as Turro approaches his 100th birthday, he is living at Our Lady of Mercy Rectory in Park Ridge, along with three other priests. It’s a parish he knows well as he spent over 50 years helping out there on weekends. The parishioners are all eagerly awaiting his birthday on January 26 to help celebrate the priest who has given so much.

A former student, Rev. Stanley Gomes, who is now the archdiocesan minister to retired priests, sums up most eloquently the life of Monsignor Turro as he becomes a centenarian:

He may have some physical limitations now, but his mind is traveling around the world as a scholar, thinker and an adventure seeker. I feel proud of my professor of scripture and wish him ‘cent’anni’ and more.”

Tags:
ElderlyInspiring storiesPriesthood
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