Father Richard W. Grillo, MM
Born: October 14, 1946
Ordained: May 19, 1973
Died: April 29, 1986
Fr. Richard Grillo died on Tuesday, April 29, 1986 at the San Francisco Development House, where he was Director. Dick suffered for many months from cancer, spending short interim periods in and out of the hospital. The words of the Gospel of this day were fulfilled in the life of Dick. Jesus says: “Peace I leave you, My peace I give you…Come, let us go from this place.”
Dick was born on October 14, 1946 in S. Weymouth, Massachusetts. He was only eight years old when he first felt the desire to become a priest and a missioner. Nine years later he was to make application into Maryknoll. The Director of Guidance of Weymouth Public Schools wrote the following recommendation: “I have known Richard for the past four years. He is above average intelligence and ability. His personal qualities, as rated by his teachers, are superior. These include work habits, punctuality, personal grooming, reliability, self-control, concern for others and school citizenship. He has a congenial personality and is well liked by his classmates. He seems able to adapt himself to situations without difficulty. I believe he has had a long sustained interest, in fact a strong determination to become a priest. I would like to mention the way he goes about his responsibilities: – always a gentleman, always with a good smile and with a pressing logical determination. He has a certain quality of expressing humility that is difficult to describe — a quality, it seems to me, that is a mark of priesthood. He is direct in conversation, never complaining and always conveying without effort the feeling of quick and natural courage and genuine good will.”
As the years progressed, Dick seems to have developed many of these good qualities, for even when faced with the mystery of death, his attitude remained positive as he remarked to some saddened visitors, “I pray that I be a sign of hope for you until we are reunited.”
In his few years of active ministry he was able to accomplish a great deal. The variety of his interests and activities would bear this out. During his life he was a cook, a truck driver, a grave digger, a commercial pilot, a chaplain to Civil Air Patrol, a Counsellor, the Director of Development House and a good priest-missioner. In all that he did, it was with enthusiasm and joy.
After Ordination on May 19, 1973, he received the unusual assignment to work as an associate in Transfiguration Parish in Chinatown, N.Y. His love for the people led him to ask for studies in Hong Kong, where he learned Cantonese. He was later assigned to Hong Kong in 1975. Years before he had stated his preference of work to the Superior General: “I prefer to work in the Orient because I now feel the need to be more deeply challenged in my faith…by a thought-world different from my own. Japan or Hong Kong would offer this challenge.”
In 1982 he was assigned to work in the Development Department. He became the Director of the San Francisco House in 1984 and it is there that he requested to remain until death.
Dick attracted people and enjoyed them. He once said, “What I enjoy most is wasting time with people.” His pleasing and warm personality won for him a nomination and election to the “Who’s Who of College Students.”
In the first reading of the Liturgy on the day of his death, St. Paul reminds us that “we must pass through many sufferings to enter the Kingdom of God.” Dick has done this. He expressed his appreciation to those at his deathbed with the words: “God love you all. I love you all. Thanks for being with me.” May he rest in peace!
Fr. Dick was buried at Maryknoll, N.Y. on May 2nd. The Funeral Mass was celebrated by Fr. Sean Burke, who also gave the homily. The Vigil ceremony the night before was conducted by Fr. Arthur Brown and the biography read by Fr. John Remmele. Fr. Raymond Nobiletti presided at the grave.