Bonadio, Father Joseph J., P.S.S.

January 20, 2021

June 10, 1937

Born June 10, 1937 and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Fr. Bonadio was one of three boys of Frank and Carmela (nee Doccolo) Bonadio. He is survived by his brother, Frank. 

Fr. Bonadio was educated in Baltimore public schools and entered the seminary in 1955 at St. Charles College in Catonsville and completed his A.B. at St. Mary’s Seminary on Paca Street (1960).  He completed his theological studies at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Roland Park where he earned the S.T.B. (1962) and S.T.L. (1964). He was ordained to the priesthood on May 16, 1964 for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. 

Inspired by his rector and mentor, Fr. James Laubaucher, Fr. Bonadio immediately joined the Society of St. Sulpice and was assigned to the faculty of St. Thomas Seminary, Louisville, KY (1964-1966).  He then did his year of Solitude in Baltimore (1966-1967).  After Solitude, he began his M.R.Ed. degree through a series of five summers at Loyola University in Chicago (1966-1970). He was admitted to the Society of St. Sulpice in 1970.  While studying for his master’s degree in the summer, he was on the faculty of St. Mary’s Seminary and University from 1966-1973 where he taught liturgy and preaching and was Master of Ceremonies for the seminary. During those years at Roland Park, he prepared seminarians on how to say Mass. And, along with his Sulpician confrere Robert Waznak, he made innovative strides in the teaching and practice of preaching. They introduced the use of audio-visual aides and taping of homilies to review with the seminarians to improve their preaching. 

In 1973, Fr. Bonadio went west to become the rector of St. Patrick’s Seminary. Seminaries at that time were going through a period in the post-conciliar church when there were different interpretations of how to implement the reforms of Vatican II.  Since Fr. Bonadio had been teaching in Baltimore during this time, he was free from the polarization that was occurring between the San Francisco seminary and the Archbishop. Fr. Bonadio’s conciliatory manner made him a good candidate as rector to begin, together with newly assigned confreres, the process of appropriate reform at the seminary.  Fr. Bonadio remained as rector until the end of the episcopacy of Archbishop McGucken. In 1978, he moved back east to Theological College to be the director of worship and homiletics (1978-1983). 

In 1983, he returned to his alma mater, St. Mary’s of Roland Park, for one more year. In 1984, he was made director of St. Mary’s Spiritual Center on Paca Street and, in the same year, also completed the D.Min. degree at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC. He remained director of the Spiritual Center until 1989 when he took a sabbatical (1989-1990). After his sabbatical, he immersed himself fulltime in various forms of pastoral ministry: he was assistant pastor at his home parish, St. Francis of Assisi Church, Baltimore, MD from 1990-2001 and then continued to serve there as their faithful weekend associate until the very end; he was chaplain to Notre Dame University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD (1990-1995); he was chaplain of the Oak Crest Retirement Community, Baltimore, MD (1995-2012); and he served as Superior of what was then named St. Charles Villa, now Villa Olier, the Sulpician Retirement community, Catonsville, MD from 2001-2007. He officially retired in 2012 and remained in residence at the Villa.

Fr. Bonadio is well remembered as a charitable, friendly priest with a gentle soul. Wherever he served, he was always faithfully present to the funeral of priests, to their anniversary celebrations, or to any public event of recognition. In the seminary, he mixed well with both students and faculty and was a strong community presence. There was an approachable warmth about him. He was always congenial, kind, gregarious, and happy to serve. He had the heart of a pastor in the way he related to the students as well as to everyone else.  It comes as no surprise that so much of his priesthood outside the seminary was given to pastoral ministry in the parish, as chaplain for Notre Dame University of Maryland, for the Oakcrest retirement community, and for religious communities. He was also devoted to his family, and proud of his Italian heritage. He liked to join his brother Frank’s family for their weekly Italian dinner. He entertained them, as he did other communities, with his trombone playing his signature song, “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Over the Christmas holiday, Fr. Bonadio contracted the COVID-19 virus. He was hospitalized on January 14 in Northwest Hospital in Randallstown, MD, owing to complications from the virus. After a short period on oxygen support, Fr. Bonadio died on January 20, 2021. His dying in the isolation of a quarantined hospital room without the comfort of family and friends at his bedside was so incongruous for a man who surrounded himself with loved ones his whole life.

At his request, the funeral Mass was held at his home parish, St. Francis of Assisi Church in Baltimore, where he assisted for many years. The funeral was on January 25, at 11:00 a.m., with the acting provincial, Fr. Daniel Moore, P.S.S. presiding, and the pastor, Msgr. William Burke, as the homilist.  Due to the restrictions on indoor gatherings due to the pandemic, the parish church could not be filled with the many parishioners who would have wanted to celebrate the life of this hometown boy in his home parish. The parish livestreamed the funeral Mass to accommodate the restrictions. Burial followed in the Sulpician cemetery in Catonsville, MD.

For his 56 years as a priest, Fr. Bonadio was a good and faithful servant of the Gospel who modeled pastoral care for nearly three generations of seminarians and for the faithful whom he served in a variety of settings. He was well-loved by so many who saw in him a living witness of God’s loving  kindness.

Richard M. Gula, PSS
Director of Personnel