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    Monday, July 22, 2019-7:14:44P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Rota’s longest-serving spiritual leader laid to rest

ROTA residents on Wednesday paid their last respects to the island’s longest-serving priest, Msgr. Louis Antonelli, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 100.

A memorial Mass was held at the San Isidro Parish Church in Sinapalo at 1 p.m. prior to Msgr. Antonelli’s interment at Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine.

Louis Antonelli

Chalan Kanoa Bishop Ryan P. Jimenez said it was Msgr. Antonelli’s request to be buried within 24 hours after his death.

“To also honor his request, there will be a Tridentine Mass on the 9th day after his death at his place of burial,” Bishop Jimenez said, adding that the time will be announced at a later date.

“With my brother priests, deacons, religious sisters, the family of Msgr. Antonelli and parishioners of Rota, I humbly ask for your prayers for the eternal repose of his soul,” the bishop added.

On Rota, personnel of the mayor’s office were allowed to go on administrative leave so they could attend the memorial Mass and interment ceremony.

In a memorandum, Mayor Efraim Atalig said he granted administrative leave on Feb. 13 from 12 p.m. to 4:40 p.m. to employees who wanted to say goodbye to the island’s “longest serving spiritual leader.” 

In a statement, Bishop Jimenez noted that Msgr. Louis Antonelli was a retired member of the clergy of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa.

“Msgr. Antonelli, 100, lovingly served the people of God on Rota for 46 years in tenured assignments as pastor at the San Francisco de Borja and San Isidro parishes,” the bishop said.

Ordained a priest at the age of 30,  he added, “Msgr. Antonelli’s dedication and service of 70 years in the priesthood will be remembered by many. His commitment to remain in the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa, and to be with the people of Rota through his retirement, surpasses any known clergy service record in the Commonwealth We mourn his passing and celebrate his new life as he would have wished.”

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, on behalf of their families, expressed their condolences to the people of Rota and the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa for the loss of a “spiritual icon of our community.”

 “For almost half his life, Pale Antonelli served the people of Rota and provided spiritual guidance to everyone he had met. Everyone in the CNMI knew who Pale Antonelli was. We live on different islands, but we know how much he meant to the people of Rota and for the Marianas as a whole. He lived a simple life, but had a profound impact on the people of Rota,” the governor and lt. governor said.

“We join them and the rest of the Commonwealth in mourning the loss of a servant of God who has shaped the course of our Commonwealth from the very beginning. May he rest in peace.”

A 22-year-old Rota resident who is a student at the University of Guam said Msgr. Antonelli made a great impact on her life.

“He had been our priest ever since. I was baptized and my siblings were baptized by Msgr. Antonelli,” said the Rota resident who declined to be identified.

She said she stopping going to church but on one occasion she heard a message of inspiration from Msgr. Antonelli. “I was encouraged to again attend Mass.”

In an interview, Rota Sen. Teresita A. Santos said it was  sad news to hear about the passing of the beloved priest.

“The people of Rota will forever remember the many happy memories that we had spent with him. What he had done to us will continue to linger in our minds.”

Santos said Msgr. Antonelli dedicated his life and wholeheartedly serve the people of Rota.

“We are grateful for his decades of service,” she said, adding that Msgr. Antonelli was committed in guiding parishioners to God.

“He would come to you to read you the Gospel and share his homily because that was his calling,” she added.

Office on Aging Director Walter Manglona, a Rota resident, said Msgr. Antonelli was a “great icon, an amazing person with a good heart — he was caring and humble, and he will be missed.”