BROOKLINE, Mass. — Raphael Bonanno, OFM, 81, a professed Franciscan friar for 61 years and a priest for 55, died Dec. 15 at Care One.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, at St. Anthony Shrine on Dec. 19. Burial will follow at St. Joseph Cemetery in West Roxbury, Mass. A wake was scheduled for Dec. 18 at the church on Arch Street.
Raphael was born April 8, 1936, in Belmont, Mass., to Anthony and Carmela (née Cordima) and baptized on May 24, 1936, at St. Luke’s Parish in Belmont. He attended the parochial grammar school before St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., where he completed high school and two years of college in 1955.
He was received into the Franciscan Order that year on July 14 at St. Raphael Novitiate in Lafayette, N.J., and professed first vows one year later. He studied philosophy at St. Francis College in Rye Beach, N.H., and theology at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C. Raphael made his solemn profession on Aug. 18, 1959, at Christ the King Seminary in Allegany, N.Y., and was ordained on March 17, 1962, at Mount St. Sepulchre in Washington, D.C. That year, he received a master’s degree in English from St. Bonaventure University in Allegany.
Following a year of pastoral education at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, Raphael was assigned in 1963 to Our Lady Queen of the Friars Minor Seminary in Anápolis, Goiás, Brazil, to learn Portuguese – the first of 16 years in Brazil. His next assignment was to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Jatai, Goiás, where he served as an assistant and the director of the diocese’s Legion of Mary. He continued his work with the Legion of Mary when he moved to Our Lady d’Abadia Church in Quirinopolis, Goiás, in 1965, where he served as assistant and supply priest from 1965 to 1968 and pastor from 1968 to 1969.
Raphael taught philosophy for one year in Ceres, Goiás, before he was appointed pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish there in 1970. He served for four years before moving to Sacred Heart Parish in Pires do Rio, where he was an assistant as well as vocation director from 1974 to 1978. He continued his work as vocation director for one year while based at St. Anthony Parish in Brasília before he felt called to serve in the Holy Land.
In 1980, Raphael moved to Jerusalem, where he volunteered for the Custody of the Holy Land and edited Holy Land Magazine. He returned to the United States in 1981 to serve as guardian of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C. Two years later, he returned to the Holy Land to serve in Emmaus, where he established a House of Prayer. He served briefly as guardian of the friar community in Beit Hanan, Israel, in 1986 before he returned to Jerusalem, continuing his editing duties at Terra Sancta College. He also served as a guide and translator for English-speaking pilgrims and translated various publications from Italian to English. He returned to Emmaus for one year in 1992 before he was called again to Rome in 1993, this time to serve for two years in the Curia’s Communications Office as editor of Fraternitas.
After returning to the United States in 1996, Raphael began his 20-year stint with the Ministry of the Word, based first in Natick, Mass., and then at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston. He traveled around the United States giving retreats and parish missions. He also continued to return to the Holy Land as a guide for English-speaking pilgrims and worked as a cruise ship chaplain as part of the Apostleship of the Sea of the United States of America. In 2006, he received his master’s degree in Franciscan Spirituality from the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University.
Raphael knew 10 languages and translated various publications and booklets, including “Emmaus-Qubeibeh” (1994) and “Nazareth” (Vol. 2). He also edited “Jews, Moslems, and Christians: Children of God” (Franciscan Printing Press, 1988) and “In the Name of St. Francis” (Franciscan Printing Press, 2009).
He is survived by several nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews. Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars – Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001-3202.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
- Order of Friars Minor website
- “Ministry of the Word Friar Preaches Among Navajo Indians” – June 5, 2013, HNP Today
- “Boston Friar Translates OFM History Book” – July 1, 2009, HNP Today
- “Raphael Bonanno Receives Second M.A.” – June 7, 2006, HNP Today