Fr. Ronald Pecci, OFM, 71, a professed Franciscan friar with Holy Name Province for 42 years, 38 of them as an ordained priest, died on April 12 at Sharon Hospital. He had been living at St. Lawrence Friary in Beacon, New York, since spring 2021. His full and rich friar life encompassed a broad range of ministries that included parish pastor for 12 years at St. Patrick in Buffalo, NY, and six years at St. Anne in Fair Lawn, New Jersey; formation work with friars, and a position on the provincial council. He also co-founded a lay-volunteer ministry that provides college graduates with the opportunity to spend a community service year among poor and immigrant populations.
Of his pastoral and formation ministries, Ron once wrote in an essay published in The Anthonian magazine, “I loved parish work. What diversity! I had the opportunities to teach children and adults, and to learn from the sages of the parish community. Then I was asked to work in the vocation ministry of the province, an opportunity to tell other people of the happiness of Franciscan life.”
A viewing was held on April 18 at St. Bonaventure Church in Paterson, New Jersey, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial. He was interred at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa, New Jersey.
Ron was born on July 24, 1950 in Brooklyn, New York, to Gabriel and Josephine (née Alessi,) Pecci and was baptized at a local parish. The family moved to Bergen County, New Jersey, where he attended Cresskill High School and was a member of the Carmelite Parish of St. Thérése of Lisieux. He earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, New York. He also earned a master’s in biology at William Paterson College of New Jersey, and spent a few years in medical research in California before joining the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province.
After spending his postulant year at St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, New York, our brother was received into the Order of Friars Minor on June 25, 1978 at St. Francis Friary in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he made his first profession one year later. He professed his solemn vows in 1982 at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st St. in New York City, and was ordained to the priesthood on May 14, 1983 at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Ron’s pastoral ministry began after ordination when he was assigned to St. Joseph Parish in West Milford, New Jersey, in 1983. Two years later, he joined the vocation team at the Holy Cross formation house in the Bronx, New York. In 1987, he was assigned to St. Patrick Parish in Buffalo, New York, where he served as pastor and friary guardian until 1999. During that time, Ron also served in his first of two terms as a provincial councilor of the HNP Provincial Council. He then moved to St. Anne Parish in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, to serve as pastor from 1999 to 2005. There are parishioners today at the Buffalo parish who once were altar services, members of the youth group, and other ministerial participants when Ron was there decades ago.
After taking a sabbatical at St. Bonaventure University, where in 2008 he earned a master’s degree in Franciscan Studies at SBU’s Franciscan Institute, Ron returned to Holy Cross as director of the Province’s pre-novitiate formation program from 2006 to 2008. While there, he served one year as spiritual assistant to a Secular Franciscan fraternity. In 2008, Ron moved to St. Paul Parish in Wilmington, Delaware, where he served five years as novitiate director and friary guardian, spiritual director to a Secular Franciscan group, and director of postulants and liaison to the interprovincial novitiate – the latter two positions by appointment in 2011.
In 2013, he went to Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Maryland, to serve three years as director of postulants, during which time he continued as liaison to the interprovincial novitiate, and also filled the role of vicar from 2014 to 2016. Ron then moved to St. Anthony of Padua Friary in Camden, New Jersey, where as friar-in-residence, among other ministries, he served one year as site-supervisor to the lay-volunteers of the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry, a program he co-founded that provides college graduates with the opportunity to spend a service year among the poor and marginalized. He once said of this ministry: “I take great delight in encouraging young people. Working with the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry has been a great joy. It gives me an opportunity to directly promote the Franciscan spirit to people who are often hungry for it.”
In 2017, he relocated to the College of Mount St. Vincent in the Bronx, where he was a founding member of the Franciscan fraternity that lived among the students, and where he served two years as chaplain of campus ministry and mission. Failing health resulted in Ron moving to St. Lawrence Friary in 2021.
Ron is survived by his Franciscan confreres in Holy Name Province, and by his 100-year-old mother, Gloria Pecci, as well as siblings Raymond (Lucille), Gail (Glenn), James (Deborah), Terryanne (Phil), and Carol (Gene), along with many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
Rest in peace, Ron, our good and faithful brother.