Father Charles J. Liberatore, MM
Born: May 2, 1928
Ordained: June 11, 1955
Died: June 22, 1981
Father Charles J. Liberatore (Kenya) died on June 22nd at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. The weekend was to be a joyful time for family and friends with the celebration of two marriages. Having completed the Saturday wedding, Charlie fell suddenly ill and died shortly after in the presence of both his natural and his Maryknoll families, with Frs. Elias Tederous, a classmate, and Ted Flanigan accompanying the family.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 2, 1928, Charlie was one of seventeen children born to Maria Asunta Leva and Antonio Liberatore. From St. Thomas High School Charlie entered the Venard for fourth year high in 1945. With his family, and in his formation years with Maryknoll, he displayed confidence and responsibility tempered by humility and a sense of humor. He was forthright on entering: the appeal of Maryknoll was not only “foreign missionary life and dedication to Mary”, but also that “candidates like me are needed”. In the seminary he was often ‘the clown’, but always “the one who gets the job done.”
Ordained June 11, 1955, Charlie was assigned to Africa where he served all his mission career. He was the complete pastor: hardworking, zealous, and affable. He related well with everyone and was judged by his fellow Maryknollers there as the “easiest Maryknoller to live with”.
His mission work was interrupted only by occasional studies to improve his language ability and ministerial skills. Earlier this year he had made plans for a spiritual and ministerial renewal course in 1984. He was once recommended by his superior for society service as Spiritual Director: the complete missioner, able to guide others in the life of the Spirit.
On June 24th a funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Callistus in Philadelphia, Charlie’s home parish. Fr. Elias Tederous was the Celebrant and Fr. Ted Flanigan the Homilist. On the 25th Mass was concelebrated at Maryknoll, N.Y. with classmate Fr. James Weckesser as principal Celebrant and Fr. Al Smidlein, as Homilist. Both were his classmates. Burial followed in the Maryknoll Cemetery.
Last year at this time Charlie was celebrating his 25th anniversary in the priesthood. He chose as the Scripture for his Jubilee card “more abundant life” (John 10:10). He was indeed the Good Shepherd of that Scripture. He embraced life fully; everyone felt at home in his presence. Most of all, his family, and Maryknoll, meant life to him. We are, individually and as family, more alive because he was one with us. Now he has passed to the final ‘fullness of life’. We give thanks to the Lord of Life for this man, our brother.