RINGWOOD, N.J. — Leon Ristuccia, OFM, 94, a professed Franciscan friar for 72 years and a priest for 68, died March 19 at Holy Name Friary.
A wake was held March 21 at St. Anthony Church, Butler, N.J. Claude Lenehan, OFM, delivered the eulogy at the wake service. Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, celebrated a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Anthony’s on March 22, with Bernard Creighton, OFM, delivering the homily.
Born on July 9, 1919 to Joseph and Helen Ristuccia, Leon was baptized Joseph at Holy Cross Church on West 42nd Street in New York City. He attended the following schools in Brooklyn, N.Y.: St. Patrick’s Grammar School, St. Francis Preparatory School, Brooklyn College, and St. Francis College, from which he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1940.
Later that year, he was received into the Order at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., professing temporary vows in 1941. He then went on for theology studies at Holy Name College, Washington, where he professed final vows in 1944. That year, he earned a master’s degree in Latin American history from St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y. Fr. Leon was ordained in 1945 at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington.
His first assignment was as assistant pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Winsted, Conn., where he served until 1951. Fr. Leon then became a member of the Province’s Mission Band, preaching parish missions and retreats while residing at Holy Cross Parish, Bronx, N.Y., from 1951 to 1963, and St. Francis Friary, Brookline, Mass. After three years at the retreat center in Sharon, Mass., Fr. Leon was assigned to St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, where he ministered as pastoral associate from 1965 to 1976.
He became a member of the Province’s house of prayer, first in Callicoon, N.Y., from 1976 to 1978, and then in Warwick, N.Y., from 1978 to 1987. Fr. Leon ministered at Anthony House, Jersey City, N.J., for two years while residing at Sacred Heart Friary, East Rutherford, N.J. In 1989, he returned to his first assignment, St. Joseph Parish, as parochial vicar, before retiring to St. Anthony Friary in 2002. He transferred to Holy Name Friary, Ringwood, in 2013.
Fr. Leon is predeceased by his brothers, John and Rev. Bernard Ristuccia, C.M., and his sister, Anna. He is survived by his cousin, Mrs. Marie Sidoti, to whom condolences may be addressed at: 450 Manatuck Blvd., Bright Waters, NY 11718. Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars-Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd St., New York NY 10001.
— Compiled by Maria Hayes and Theresa Bartha