Born in Povegliano Veronese, hilly agricultural land south of the river Adige and west of Verona—the Gateway to the wine land of Valpodicella—Father Luigi Zanotto bubbled to life November 21, 1940. He began working in the vineyard of the Lord after his priestly ordination in Povegliano June 30,1968. His first assignment was as an instructor-educator in the minor seminary of the Comboni Missionaries in Sulmona (Abruzzo, Italy).
In 1973, Fr. Luigi was assigned to Mexico and would spend the next 20 years of ministry in Latin America, with the exception of three years, when he studied for his doctorate in pastoral theology at the University of Salamanca (Spain). His doctoral dissertation was on the encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI: Evangelii Nuntiandi: On Evangelization in the Modern World. The director of his thesis, Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera is currently the Archbishop of Valencia (Spain).
After Salamanca, Fr. Luigi became the National Director of Catechesis and the Executive Secretary of the Biblical Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico. And, then in 1992, after a sabbatical, Fr. Luigi was assigned to the North American Province of the Comboni Missionaries.
Before coming to St. Lucy’s Church in 2009 as pastor, Fr. Luigi trained more than 20,000 catechists in California, using his textbook: Profundizando y Madurando Nuestra Fe.
Here at St. Lucy, like a father—a good shepherd—Fr. Luigi brought us to understand ourselves as a family of believers. We come from many peoples: Europeans, Africans, and Hispanics, yet we are to love and assist one another as Jesus did. Our love and assistance is to be carried out within society, not in isolation. Fr. Luigi renewed the church sound system and lighting; he replaced more than 7,000 bricks on the church façade and bell tower; He introduced Our Lady of Guadalupe and Madonna de la Nube; he renovated the church basement, putting on permanent display the church’s historical presepio, installed restrooms, the church gift shop, and St. Gerard chapel in the lower church. In the rectory, he added new windows, new flooring, and new kitchen, and central air-conditioning. Finally, he renovated the first floor of St. Lucy’s Community Center.
His father, Angelo, and his mother, Imelde Baciga, his older brothers Giuseppe, and Comboni Father Giovanni and his younger brother Paolo preceded Fr. Luigi in death. Rosina (in her cloister known as Suor Agnese), Comboni Sister Maria (known as Suor Anastasia) and Lina survive him. Two brothers, Gaetano and Comboni Father Agostino, also survive Fr. Luigi.
Fr. Luigi wrote about his parents, brothers and sisters in the book—Dal Campanile al Mondo: Imelde e Angelo Campanar, Genitori Missionari.
Since Fr. Luigi arrived in Newark, he served as Chaplain and honorary member of the society, Ieri, Oggi, e Domani.
His body will be received at St. Lucy’s Church, 118 7th Avenue, Newark, NJ 07104, 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, 2018. He will lay in state until the funeral Mass at 11 a.m., April 4, 2018. Burial will take place immediately following the funeral Mass in the Firemen’s Memorial plot, Mount Pleasant Cemetery, 375 Broadway, Newark, NJ 07104, since he was a member of the Newark Department of Public Safety’s Fire Chaplains.