A Knight to Remember

A Passyunk Square native received two Catholic Man of the Year commendations from the Knights of Columbus.

Set to turn 75 in April, Rev. Richard J. Antonucci, O. Praem., has long felt an obligation to help people overcome various struggles and grow as children of God. Through nearly five decades, he has honored that commitment while a member of the priesthood. His allegiance to perseverance and sacrifice inspired the Malvern and Philadelphia chapters of the Knights of Columbus to name him their Catholic Man of the Year honoree.

“No matter the geographic location or the title that has come along with being somewhere, I have always wanted to educate and become educated,” the Norbertine man-of-the-cloth said of a religious vocation that began in earnest upon his 1972 ordination. “Therefore, I’m pretty fortunate to have connected with the Knights and to contribute to their mission. I’m grateful, then, that they found my affiliation with them to be worthy of these honors.”

With 1.9 million members around the world, the Knights of Columbus are entering their 138th year of providing financial aid and assistance to the disabled, needy, and sick, doing so with charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism as their principles. Through his ties to Saint Norbert Parish in Paoli, Fr. Antonucci initially came into contact with the group almost two decades ago and quickly found himself in the overseers’ good graces because of his life as a priest and time as an educator.

“They’re appreciative of efforts to bring people more closely to God, and that’s something I’ve been blessed to try to do,” the double victor said.

The Knights of Columbus conferred the commendations on him last fall, citing, among other notables, his employment with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia; dedication to the vitality of Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School, at which he taught and served as principal and whom he promotes as the Chairman of the Board; and his well-received stints as the Prior and Abbot at Daylesford Abbey. Through an October ceremony in Trevose, he made evident that he, like all members of the faith community should also do, works daily to strengthen his comprehension of God’s rich plan for his life. Now the Abbot Emeritus of the abbey, Antonucci enjoys remaining active through his stationing at the Chester County site and through assisting at parishes when a need arises, including a recent return to South Philadelphia to uphold operations at Saint Gabriel’s Catholic Church in Grays Ferry.

“I’m open to invitations to share what I’ve picked up over the years and what I’ve come to know as a follower of Christ,” Antonucci said. “Whatever the Knights will look for me to do, I’ll approach it with the trust that it’s going to provide me with more chances to make each day a cause for hoping and rejoicing.”