Retired Auxiliary Bishop Louis A. DeSimone, 96, a longtime pastor in South Philadelphia and World War II veteran, died Friday, Oct. 5, at St. Thomas Monastery in Villanova after a brief illness.
From 1976 to 2001, Bishop DeSimone served as pastor of St. Monica Parish in South Philadelphia. Two years later, then-Monsignor DeSimone was named auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia by then-Pope, now-St. John Paul II. The pope also named him Titular Bishop of Cillium, a former diocese in North Africa.
While at Villanova University, he left the school to enlist in the U.S. Army during World War II. He served as an Italian-language translator during the North African and Italian campaigns. While in Italy, he met Pope Pius XII at the Vatican.
The pontiff had an audience with soldiers one day and went down a line shaking hands and asking each one what he did in civilian life, CatholicPhilly.com reported.
"I want to become a priest," the Montgomery County native told the pope, who replied: "I'll pray for you."
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said in a statement that Bishop DeSimone "was a man of great energy, charity, and joy who deeply touched all those he met in tremendously positive ways."
On a daily basis, Bishop DeSimone "lived out his episcopal motto Servus Tuus (Your Servant) in his words and actions," Chaput said.
"I ask the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to offer prayers for Bishop DeSimone, and I invite our priests to offer Mass for the happy repose of his soul. We are all grateful for the gift of his life and his selfless service. May God grant him eternal life and give peace and consolation to all those who mourn his passing."
Louis Anthony DeSimone was born in Philadelphia and raised in Bridgeport, Montgomery County. He graduated from Bridgeport High School and then attended Villanova University, then called a college, before enlisting. After the war, he enrolled at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and was ordained for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on May 10, 1952.
Bishop DeSimone then taught at St. Thomas More High School and served as an assistant pastor at Annunciation B.V.M. and St. Donato Parishes, all in Philadelphia.
He then served as assistant pastor and pastor at SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish in Conshohocken.
In 1971, he became the director of Catholic Relief Services in the archdiocese and held that position for 11 years.