Richard D. Appicci, O.S.A.
Richard Dominic Appicci, O.S.A., was born on February 4, 1928, at North Bergen, NJ, the son of Domenico and Ida (Rimoldi) Appicci. He had one sister, Beatrice Mezzari, of Cheshire, CT.
He was baptized on March 25, 1928 at Saint Rocco Catholic Church, Fairview, NJ. He attended Jefferson Elementary School # 7 and Franklin Junior High School # 3 in North Bergen, NJ, and Emerson High School, Union City, NJ, (1933-1945). He then worked in several occupations as a radio repairer, mail clerk, sales clerk, psychiatric technician. He began night-school college studies at Fairleigh-Dickinson University in 1946, and served in the US Army from 1950-1952 in France.
In September 1953 he went to the Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, NY, as a postulant. He was received into the novitiate on January 16, 1954, at Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, NY, and professed simple vows on January 17, 1955. He then attended Villanova University (1955-1957), graduating with his BA in Philosophy. From 1957 to 1961 he completed his theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, DC. He professed solemn vows on January 17, 1958, and he was ordained a priest on June 4, 1960 by Bishop John McNamara in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC.
From 1961 to 1967, Fr. Dick’s first assignment was to Saint Thomas Monastery and Villanova University, where he served first as a religious education professor (1961-1966), dean of student activities (1962-1965) and as Vice President of Student Affairs (1965-1967). During his time at the university he brought many prominent speakers to the university, among them the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965.
In 1967, at the invitation of Bishop John McNabb, O.S.A., of the Midwest Province, friars from the Villanova Province went to serve in the Prelature of Chulucanas, Peru. Fr. Dick and Fr. Frank Kelly were among the first to respond to this invitation. Fr. Dick worked among the very poor and helped to establish the parish of San Jose Obrero (St. Joseph the Worker) in the barrios of Chulucanas. Fr. Dick served as Vicar General in Peru for 12 years.
Fr. (now Bishop) Dan Turley, O.S.A. wrote: “Dick’s true greatness as a person can be seen in times of difficulty or apparent defeat. Dick never gives up, never gets disheartened. I believe that he has begun to be like the people he is serving, that is, he hopes against hope. He finds hope when apparently there is nothing to hope for…. He has gained the respect and love of our Peruvian people. They know that he is for real and that they can count on him no matter what time of day or night that they might have to call on him…. Dick is a great example to all of us of a missionary who has cast his lot with his people.”
This can-do spirit, based on his firm belief in the power of the Gospel to change hearts and lives, helped him to empower others through faith to action. Feeling he could have a greater impact on Peru outside of Peru, Fr. Dick wrote: “I wish to share what I have learned in Peru with others, to get Americans to appreciate what they have and to understand what the rest of the world does not have, and to share what they have with the Third World.”
Fr. Dick spent the rest of his life doing just that.
In 1988, Fr. Dick came to serve in the parish of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, Bronx, NY, a large, urban, multi-cultural and multi-lingual parish.
In 1990 Fr. Dick came to Villanova, PA, to Saint Thomas Monastery, and to the Provincial Offices to work as first Assistant Director, then Director, of the Province’s Mission Office. In this capacity, he coordinated preaching opportunities for himself and for other friars all over the US. These mission appeals helped to make known and to support the province’s mission activities in Peru, Japan and South Africa. He raised funds through collecting and selling cancelled postage stamps, and at least once a year he gathered supplies to ship to the missions in Peru, including medical supplies, wheelchairs and even an ambulance!
Fr. Appicci served as the coordinator for the Peace and Justice Committee of the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova from 1994 to 1998 and as a United Nations Delegate for the Order from 1997 to 1998.
He also found time to serve as a chaplain in PA regional prisons, including Graterford and SCI-Chester, providing spiritual care to those in prison and clothing for those newly released. He was a zealous advocate for the causes of peace and justice. To help continue his work, the Province established in 2006 “The Richard D. Appicci, OSA, Endowment for the Augustinian Missions”, a fund to support the province’s mission efforts abroad.
Fr. Dick passed away on February 1, 2007, at Saint Thomas of Villanova Monastery. A Mass of Christian Burial was held on February 5 at Saint Thomas of Villanova Church on the Villanova University campus. Fr. Dick is buried at Calvary Cemetery in West Conshohocken, PA.