(ANS – Boston) – The Covid-19 virus has claimed the life of Salesian Bishop Emilio Simeon Allué, emeritus auxiliary bishop of Boston and titular bishop of Croe (an ancient, inactive see in what is now Albania). Bishop Allué died at 9:30 a.m. on April 26 at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Boston, where he’d been hospitalized for over a week. He was 85 years old, a professed Salesian of Don Bosco almost 64 years, a priest more than 53 years, and a bishop almost 24 years. He was the first, and so far only, Salesian bishop in the U.S.
Emilio was born to Domingo and Juliana Carcasona Allué in Huesca, Spain, on February 18, 1935. He entered the Salesian formation program at Gerona in 1954 after completing his secondary schooling and was admitted to the novitiate in Tarragona in 1955. There were 63 novices at the start of the year! (There were two other large novitiates in Spain at that time.) Bro. Emilio made his first vows at the novitiate on August 16, 1956.
Immediately after his profession in 1956, Bro. Emilio was sent as a “missionary” to the U.S. to continue his Salesian training at Don Bosco College in Newton, N.J., where he formally enrolled on October 1. One of his novitiate companions, Bro. José Santa Bibiana, came with him to the U.S. and spent the rest of his life in the New Rochelle Province. They were part of a contingent of Spaniards sent to the U.S. in that era, including Bro. Javier Aracil and Bro. José Ros among others.
Bro. Emilio graduated from Don Bosco College in 1959 with a B.A. in philosophy and did his practical training at Don Bosco Tech in Paterson, N.J., from 1959 to 1962, teaching math. He returned to Europe to study theology at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome in 1962, where he was ordained a priest on December 22, 1966. He earned an STL the following year and returned to the U.S. He became an American citizen in 1974.
In 1981 Fr. Emilio also earned a PhD in theology at Fordham University in New York. His dissertation, “The Image of Virgo-Mater in the Liber Mozarabicus Sacramentorum,” was mentored by Fr. Gerard H. Ettlinger, S.J.
As a priest Fr. Emilio taught and filled administrative positions: director of campus ministry at Salesian Junior Seminary in Goshen, N.Y. (1967-1970), with the young professed Salesian brothers at Don Bosco College, where he taught theology (1970-1972), and at Don Bosco Tech in Paterson, where he also taught Spanish (1975-1977); director of Salesian Junior Seminary in Goshen (1972-1975); and treasurer at Don Bosco Tech, Paterson (1977-1978), and Don Bosco College (1980-1982).
Fr. Richard Crager tells a story from those two years in Newton that Fr./Bp. Allué always enjoyed rehearing. As young Salesians still in formation, then-Bro. Crager and then-Bro. Jim Marra were in charge of Camp Don Bosco in Newton during a couple of summers. They spent freely on what they saw that the camp needed, and the camp was financially quite successful as well as giving the boys a highly enjoyable experience that kept them coming back or extending their season. But Fr. Emilio came to them one day and said, in effect, “I would like to know what you wish to buy. Tell me, and I’ll see that you get it—anything within reason.” The two young confreres decided they’d see how far they could push that, and as often as they asked for something, the community’s treasurer would supply it. Finally, they thought, “Let’s ask him for a bocce court. He’ll never do that.” But the next day, the College’s construction contractor, Mr. Monteleone, showed up and began building the court. At that point Bro. Richard and Bro. Jim gave up trying to outsmart Fr. Emilio. And to their pleased amazement, the court was a tremendous hit with the older campers.
Fr. Emilio entered parish ministry in 1978 at Mary Help of Christians Parish in New York City (1978-1979) as assistant pastor and administrator of nearby St. Ann’s Parish (1979-1980). He also did a stint of a few months as chaplain of the Salesian Sisters in North Haledon in 1980. From 1982 to 1990 he was pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in New Brunswick, N.J., director of the Salesian community there, and also director of Hispanic ministry for the diocese of Metuchen.
Fr. Emilio became shrine director at the Marian Shrine in Haverstraw, N.Y. (1992-1995). Besides his strong Marian devotion, he actively promoted the devotion of Divine Mercy. In 1995 he returned to Mary Help of Christians Parish in New York City as parochial vicar, whence he was summoned in 1996 by Pope John Paul II to the episcopal ministry in Boston. Boston’s archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, said, “His appointment demonstrates the Holy Father’s concern for the large Hispanic community in the Boston area.”
Bishop Allué himself thanked “almighty God for this unmerited gift that comes now into my life from Jesus’ merciful love. I accept His Will to be of service and to work among the people of this archdiocese with deep faith and complete loyalty to the Holy Father” and the cardinal. “I am confident,” he continued, “that Mary, Mother of the Church and Help of Christians, will walk with me as I proclaim the values of the Gospel of Love and Life.”
He was ordained bishop on September 17, 1996, by Cardinal Law at Boston’s Holy Cross Cathedral and was given pastoral responsibilities for the West Region (1996-2000), the Merrimack Region (2002-2008), and Hispanic ministry (2008-2010). His episcopal motto reflected his Salesian character: Da mihi animas, indicating, according to Boston’s Pilot (7/2/10), his desire to work in priestly and episcopal service for the salvation of all.
On the Halloween Day following his episcopal ordination, according to both Fr. Dominic Tran and Fr. John Puntino—recounting what the bishop told the Salesian community—he drove from Boston to South Orange to give a day of recollection to the men in formation, wearing his episcopal cassock and pectoral cross. When he stopped to pay a toll somewhere en route, the collector inquired about his outfit: “Is that a a costume or are you really a priest? The new bishop’s response was, “I have news for you. I am a bishop!”
Testifying to Bishop Allué’s great sense of humor, Fr. Puntino also reports another story that the bishop enjoyed telling. On one feast of St. Francis of Assisi, probably when the bishop was episcopal vicar for the West Region, he was blessing animals outside a parish and noted the variety of pets. As he was walking along, he saw a young girl and asked her, “And what animal have you brought?” She turned, pointed to the little boy behind her, and said, “My brother.”
When Bishop Allué turned 75 in February 2010, he submitted his resignation as an active bishop to Pope Benedict XVI, as church law requires, and the Holy Father accepted it on June 30. He continued episcopal duties in the Boston Archdiocese as requested and resided at St. Theresa’s Parish in West Roxbury. He also carried out Salesian ordinations in 2002 and 2012 and consecrated the new chapel at the Marian Shrine in 2008. Eventually he moved into the Regina Cleri Residence for Boston’s retired priests.
One of the bishop’s former provincial superiors described him as “a man of pleasant character, friendly, a hard worker, persevering, cooperative, [with a] good sense of responsibility, a good community man [and] a good administrator.”
Fr. Mike Mendl, SDB
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- Emilio Allué