Comboni Father Angelo Biancalana died in the early hours of Sunday, June 11, Feast of the Holy Trinity, at the Scalabrini Rehab Center in Northlake, Illinois where he had been staying. He would have turned 86 on August 5. Visitation is June 14, 4-8 p.m. at St. Louise de Marillac Parish, 1144 Harrison Ave. La Grange Park, Illinois 60526. Mass of the Resurrection is Thursday, June 15, at 11:00 a.m.
Fr. Angelo was born in the little town of Capannori, near Lucca, Italy on August 5, 1931. He joined the nearby Comboni Missionary seminary at a young age and transferred to the United States when his family migrated to the Chicago area in 1951. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 25, 1958.
His first mission assignment was to the San Antonio de Pala Mission, serving Native Americans in the diocese of San Diego, California. He spent two years there.
In 1960 he was called back to Cincinnati to run the vocation program of the province in the East and Midwest of the country. For the next five years he crisscrossed the country in search of future missionaries.
In 1965 Fr. Angelo finally fulfilled his desire to go to Africa. He was assigned to the province of Uganda where he taught in the major seminary of Gulu and later was engaged in pastoral work. By mid-1970 He was back in the USA doing vocation ministry out of Cincinnati, Ohio until he was called back to Uganda once again as a seminary professor in 1974.
In 1976, Fr. Angelo was elected provincial of Uganda, a post he held for the next six years, including the terrible years of the civil war under Idi Amin and during the violence that followed. Having survived the ordeal, Fr. Angelo returned to the United States in 1981 and served mostly in the field of mission promotion in the Chicago area for almost ten years. It was during that time that the La Grange Park Center was opened and entrusted to his care.
By the late 1980s in the province there was serious talk about starting a group of Comboni Lay Missionaries and Fr. Angelo was asked to investigate the matter. For this reason he was moved to Montclair, NJ in 1991 where the idea began to take flesh. In 1992 the roots of the future Comboni Lay Missionaries were moved back to La Grange Park, Illinois under his supervision.
In 1997, he handed the program over to a new director and took a sabbatical with preparation for a possible future Hispanic ministry.
Fr. Angelo’s remaining years were spent doing mission promotion work out of La Grange Park and the Comboni Mission Center of Covina, California. He left Covina for the last time in 2011 and became a retired member of the Comboni Center community of La Grange Park.
He is survived by a brother, Sergio, and a sister, Rina, both residents of the greater Chicago area.
Fr. Angelo will be remembered for his infectious missionary zeal, his easy going friendship, his love for the missions and for the poorest of God’s children. May he find in God’s embrace the feeling of perfect community he so fervently sought on earth.