By Amy Marinaro
Marcello Rossi first entered the Oratory when he was 22 years old and began studying to become a coadjutor brother. Throughout his life, Marcello struggled with poor health, so when he became seriously ill he asked for permission to profess his perpetual vows early. By the morning after his profession, he had miraculously recovered.
Br. Rossi’s assignments in the Salesian Society included working first in the bookstore, then with the bookbinders, then with the typographical machines, and lastly as doorkeeper of the Oratory (a post he served for forty-eight years). Br. Rossi would begin each day with prayers at 4:30 AM before taking up his position as doorkeeper. He was often referred to as “il cane grigio dell’Oratorio (the gray dog of the Oratory)” in reference to the dog Grigio that protected Don Bosco several times throughout his life.
Br. Rossi was graced with certain spiritual gifts from God that allowed him to encourage and inspire others through conversation. Some boys who were about to be dismissed from the Oratory would be sent to Br. Rossi and through his conversations with them, these boys would completely alter their behavior. Many young people also sought his assistance because of his ability to find employment and financial assistance for the youth in need.
When Br. Rossi was 75 years old, he fell ill again and passed away on March 27, 1973, from progressive paralysis and pneumonia; however, his gifts lived on in those he assisted through his accompaniment, conversation, and guidance.
Based on the biography of Bro. Marcello Rossi included in Profiles of Thirty-Three Salesian Coadjutor Brothers by Fr. Eugene Ceria, SDB (New Rochelle: Salesiana, 2005), pp. 18-25.