After several days of silent suffering in the hospital, Friar Luigi IANNITTO left us on January 3, 2021; only two days before his 100th birthday. He was born on January 5, 1921, in Montagano, Italy. A member of the Province of St. Bernardine and St. Angelo in Italy (Abruzzo), Friar Luigi served as a missionary in Turkey and later was transferred in perpetuity to the Provincial Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land.
After a five-year postulancy period in Penne, Italy, our confrere entered the novitiate in Assisi on October 3, 1938. He made his simple profession on October 4, 1939, and his solemn profession on December 12, 1942. After his studies in Assisi, he went on to study at the Seraphic College in Rome, which then was on Via S. Teodoro. During 1945-1949, he obtained a licentiate degree in theology. He was ordained a priest on July 19, 1947.
Friar Luigi held posts as Postulancy Director, Novice Master and Rector of Clerical Students. He was a theology professor, and served as a pastor in L’Aquila, Italy (1966-1973). He held the post of Provincial Secretary and Provincial Econom for three years, and participated as Custos Custodum in the 1969 General Chapter.
In 1973, he came to Istanbul, Turkey, and served as a pastor there for twenty-five years. He encouraged the creation of groups for serious Christian formation (the Focolarini and the Neocatechumenal Way, who volunteered for various activities) and he fostered dialogue with Islam.
He studied Turkish so that he could be more engaged with the Muslims. In order to provide pastoral ministry that was more grounded in the Turkish milieu, he worked wholeheartedly creating publications written in Turkish. He produced the first missal for feast days; catechism books for children and adults; a translation of the Deuterocanonical books to complement the Protestant Bible (the only one available); the monthly magazine Sent Antuan Dostu (Friend of St. Anthony); about forty catechetical, patristic and hagiographic publications; and the Breviary in Turkish (Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer, Compline and the Office of the Dead).
We thank the Lord for the great gift that He has given us in the person of our brother Friar Luigi. We are committed to furthering Friar Luigi’s generous and willing commitment to the Kingdom of the Lord. Let us pray for his eternal rest.
For more information, visit the Facebook page dedicated to him at:
Friar Lucian ABALINTOAIEI