Transitional Deacon Anthony Albanese will be ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia May 20. (Sarah Webb)

This is the first in a series of seven profiles of the men to be ordained new priests for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on May 20.


The year was 2011, and Anthony Albanese was a 25-year-old Spanish teacher at a middle school in Bensalem. One day in class, he found himself wondering, “What do these students in my classroom really need? Do they need me as a Spanish teacher, or do they need me as a priest?” He then wondered why God had put these thoughts on his heart, especially since he’d never previously considered the priesthood.

Albanese is now a transitional deacon who will be ordained to the priesthood later this month.

He was born at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood, which at the time was across the street from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, where Albanese became a seminarian in August 2016. To this fact, St. Charles faculty member Fr. John Collins, would say jokingly to Albanese, “I guess you haven’t made it far in life.”

Albanese along with his Italian American family first lived in Overbrook, West Philadelphia. He was baptized at St. Donato parish and attended St. Callistus School.

His father Thomas A. Albanese worked for 30 years as a foreman for Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW), and his mother Debra was a barber.

“She would always cut our hair,” he says. Albanese has one older brother Thomas C. Albanese, who is a Special Education teacher in Manayunk.

“Like any Italian family,” he says, “we fight, we cry, we make up, we laugh, the whole thing, like any family probably. Somehow, the Holy Spirit makes it all work.”

His family later moved to Ridley Township, Delaware County, where he was a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish and attended Ridley public schools from grades 4 through 12.

As a Ridley High School student, Albanese says he “participated in lots of after school clubs,” including 4 years on the Scott’s Hi-Q Team (including 2 years as the team’s Captain), the World Cultures Club, and the Spanish Club.  He was also a member of sports teams, including tennis, track and field, and lacrosse.

Graduating high school in 2003, Albanese says his life goals at the time were “to get married, have kids, and to have a Jersey Shore house with a white picket fence.”

Albanese continued his education, earning dual bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and Education at Villanova University in 2008. During his first 2 years working as a Spanish teacher, he started graduate studies, and earned a Master of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

“I always had a yearning for learning,” Albanese says of his love for education. “I’m always trying to learn something new, and expand upon what I know, knowing that I don’t know everything.  I think that’s the beauty of the Catholic faith.  We’re reminded that only God is perfect, and we’re called to be humble servants.”

After experiencing his initial calling in the Bensalem classroom, Albanese attended a “Come and See Weekend” at St. Charles in February 2011, though he says, “It just wasn’t the right time for me to enter, so I went back to teaching, but I knew I needed a change in life.”

Albanese then considered becoming a medical doctor and studied for 2 years at Thomas Jefferson University in Center City. “I did very well, but didn’t feel it was my calling,” so he again resumed teaching.

One day in 2014, Albanese was at his then home parish, St. Nicholas of Tolentine in South Philadelphia, when an Augustine priest asked him, “Have you thought about the seminary?” Albanese says he was surprised by this question, since the priest didn’t previously know that Albanese was discerning.

That same day, Albanese and his father attended the annual Christmas Concert and Open House at St. Charles.

“My Dad and I went, and I talked with Fr. DeLacy (then Vocation Director for St. Charles), and after 5 minutes, he said, ‘I think you have a vocation.'”

Of his seminary studies, Albanese says, “It was just so enriching some of the things we talked about, both on the philosophical level and the theological level. Anybody who’s on fire with their faith wants to hear more about Jesus, and how this translates ultimately into your preaching, your catechesis, the parish, and everything.”

During his seminary studies, Albanese has earned an additional 3 master’s degrees (in Philosophical Studies, Divinity, and Theology respectively) for a total of 4 master’s degrees. “My Dad always jokes, ‘Can we trade some of these in for a doctorate?’” says Albanese.  “I tell him, ‘I don’t think it works that way, Dad.'”

Looking ahead to his upcoming ordination, he says, “It’s been such a long road to get to this point. I’m just so grateful for all the help and support of the Holy Spirit first and foremost, and of course, my family, friends, and fellow seminarians.”

Albanese says he looks forward to his first Mass as a priest on May 21 at Saints Simon and Jude parish in West Chester, where Albanese has served as a transitional deacon.  Afterwards, Albanese will travel to visit extended family in Abruzzo, Italy.