Franciscan Father Thaddeus M. Sapio dies at age 71

Franciscan Father Thaddeus M. Sapio

Franciscan Father Thaddeus M. SapioANDERSON — Franciscan Father Thaddeus Michael Sapio, parochial vicar of St. Mary of the Angels Church, died Sept. 17 of cancer at Rainey Hospice House. He was 71.

The funeral was held Sept. 21 at St. Mary of the Angels. Burial was held in Patterson, N.J.

Father Sapio was born Raymond Nicholas Sapio in Haddonfield, N.J., on Aug. 7, 1938, the only child of the late Nicholas and Helen Hunt Sapio. He attended Christ the King School in Haddonfield and graduated from St. Joseph Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., in 1958. He was received in the Order of Friars Minor, Holy Name Province, on July 14, 1958, receiving the name Thaddeus Michael, at St. Raphael Friary in Lafayette, N.J.

On July 15, 1959, he professed first vows. He studied philosophy in Rye Beach, N.H., and theology at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C. He professed solemn vows on Aug. 22, 1962, at Christ the King Seminary in Allegany, N.Y. On March 13, 1965, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Philip Hannan at Mount St. Sepulchre Church in Washington, D.C.

During his many years of service to God’s people, Father Sapio’s assignments included serving the parishes in Beach Haven, N.J.; San Antonio, Texas; Rye Beach, N.H.; Camden, N.J.; Yulan, N.Y.; and Bronx, N.Y.

At St. Mary of the Angels, Father Sapio was involved with the church’s Evangelization, Justice, and Peace and Integrity of Creation committees, was coordinator for religious education for children, and was concerned with immigration reform and welfare of immigrants.

He also participated in Clean Start and the Anderson Emergency Soup Kitchen and coordinated the Senior Companion program at the church.

“He fell in love with St. Mary’s … and the people as soon as he got here,” Father Aubrey McNeil, pastor, said in an article in the Anderson Independent Mail. “He was compassionate, giving and didn’t know how to say no.

“He was a brother to everybody. Even though he was a priest, he saw no status in that.”

In the same article, Tony Soignoli, St. Mary parish council president,  said Father Sapio “had a great ability to laugh. Humor was an important part of who he was.

“He was absolutely generous to a fault,” Soignoli said. “There are stories upon stories about when he gave up his time for whatever call … to help. Even when he was going through his illness, he was always there for people.”

Father McNeil said medical staff at AnMed Health Medical Center “served him wonderfully.”

Because of the people and medical staff in Anderson, Father Sapio chose to receive his medical and hospice care there rather than move to a facility for Franciscan friars, Father McNeil said.

Father Sapio is survived by his 366 Franciscan brothers in the province.

Memorials may be given to the Building Fund of St. Mary of the Angels Church, 1821 White St., Anderson, SC 29621.

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