Msgr. John J. Busco, 97, pastor emeritus of Holy Saviour Parish in Norristown, died Nov. 8. He served his entire priestly career in Italian personal parishes and was also a former pastor at St. Mary of the Eternal Parish in Philadelphia and St. Donato Parish in Philadelphia.
Born in Newfield, N.J., the son of the late Vincenzo and Michelina (Manzionna) Busco he attended Asa Packer School, Shull Junior High School and Easton High School, all in Easton, which was then part of the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
Because he was not initially accepted at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, his first two years of seminary training was at St. Charles College in Maryland, explained Msgr. Charles L. Sangermano, who is the current pastor at Holy Saviour. At that time most Italian parishes in the Archdiocese were headed by Italian-born priests.
Msgr. Busco’s pastor obtained an appointment for himself and his father with Cardinal Dennis Dougherty, who requested he speak in Italian. After Msgr. Busco demonstrated his fluency, the Cardinal approved his admission to the Philadelphia Seminary. When Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII) visited St. Charles Seminary in 1936, John Busco was chosen to give the Italian address.
Ordained by Cardinal Dougherty at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul on May 18, 1940, his initial assignment was as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Pompeii Parish in Philadelphia.
Next he was sent to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Bridgeport.
“That was my parish; he was only about eight years older than I,” said retired Auxiliary Bishop Louis A. DeSimone. “He was certainly well liked, and people flocked to him. When I went into the Army, he drove me to the train station and calmed things in my family. He was very instrumental in my vocation and my brothers’ (Salvatore and Russell) vocations.”
Father Busco was sent to St. Mary of the Eternal Parish as a parochial vicar in 1945 and, the next year, at the relatively young age of 35, was named pastor. In 1967 he was made pastor of St. Donato and in 1981 pastor of Holy Saviour, retiring as pastor emeritus in 1990.
Msgr. Sangermano was a parochial vicar when Msgr. Busco arrived, and when he came back as pastor, Msgr. Busco was still in residence.
“He was very accomplished and an excellent administrator who loved the Church and his priesthood,” Msgr. Sangermano said.
“He was there when you needed him and went well beyond the call of duty,” said Holy Saviour parishioner Patricia Clement. “He really was the embodiment of what a pastor should be, and he was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He was beloved.”
In the absence of Archbishop Chaput, Msgr. Busco’s funeral Mass is scheduled to be celebrated by retired Auxiliary Bishop Robert P. Maginnis at Holy Saviour Church in Norristown on Monday, Nov. 14 at 11 a.m. Concelebrants will include Bishop DeSimone, who will also be the homilist; Msgr. Sangermano, Msgr. Daniel J. Sullivan; Fathers Ferdinand Buccafurni, Michael C. DiIorio, Augustus C. Puleo and Bernard J. Taglianetti.
Msgr. Busco is survived by nieces and nephews. Interment will be at St. Anthony Cemetery in Easton.