Rest in Peace, Fr. Thomas Provenzano, SDB

Rest in Peace, Fr. Tom Provenzano
Fr. Thomas M. Provenzao Salesian High 3
Fr. Tom's senior photo at Salesian High School
Photo courtesy of Salesian Provincial Center Archives

By Fr. Mike Mendl, SDB

(New Rochelle, NY – July 27) – Fr. Thomas M. Provenzano died unexpectedly on July 21 in his room at St. John Bosco Parish in Port Chester, NY. He was 56 years old and had been a professed Salesian for more than 29 years and a priest for over 21 years. He was parochial vicar in the parish and vice director in the Salesian community.

According to Fr. Pat Angelucci, director and pastor, Fr. Tom’s alarm went off at 6:00 a.m. and he got up to turn it off. When he didn’t show up for the 8:00 a.m. Mass, Fr. Pat went to his room and found him dead on the floor. It appeared that he’d had a heart attack, which hasn’t been confirmed. The evening before, he’d engaged in lively table conversation with his confreres, heard confessions, and taped an upcoming talk on the Eucharist.

Tom Provenzano was born on March 18, 1967, in Bronxville, NY, the youngest of Anthony and Edythe Provenzano’s four sons. He was baptized at Immaculate Conception Church in Tuckahoe, NY, the family’s parish, soon after and confirmed there in 1980. He graduated from Salesian High School in New Rochelle in 1985, then attended Xavier University in Cincinnati for three years. In 1988 he entered the New York Archdiocese’s candidacy program for the priesthood, and in 1991, he completed a B.A. in philosophy at Iona College in New Rochelle.

But Don Bosco had staked a claim on Tom; as a student, he’d admired the Salesians' "great sense of camaraderie." In January 1992 he entered the formation program at South Orange, NJ, and in August that year he began a year of novitiate in Rosemead, CA, under the guidance of Fr. Harry Rasmussen. He professed on August 15, 1993, in Rosemead. He made his perpetual profession in New Rochelle on August 21, 1999.

Two years of postnovitiate formation in South Orange followed his first profession. During that time, Br. Tom earned an M.A. in education from Seton Hall University (1995). He did practical training at his alma mater, Salesian High, between 1995 and 1997, teaching history and religion. He began theological studies at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio, in 1997. When the Salesians withdrew from the PCJ the following year, Br. Tom and two other students moved to the Salesian Theological Institute at Tlaquepaque, Mexico. He earned a bachelor’s degree in theology there as well as learning Spanish.

Fr. Tom was ordained in his home parish in Tuckahoe on August 25, 2001, by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. He began his priestly ministry at St. Anthony Church in Paterson, NJ, as parochial vicar for one year. In 2002, he was sent to St. John Bosco Parish in Chicago as parochial vicar, and from 2003 also vice director.

Fr. Tom returned to Salesian High in New Rochelle in 2007 as CYM and religion teacher. Three years later he was assigned to St. Anthony Parish in Elizabeth, NJ, as director and pastor. When the Salesians withdrew from the parish in 2013, he returned to Chicago as director and pastor of St. John Bosco. Completing six years with those responsibilities, he moved to College Park, Md., in 2019 to begin studies for a doctorate in theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington. He didn’t complete that project, but instead took up parish ministry once more in 2021 in Port Chester.

Fr. Tom blogged at The AX: 2021 (, trying "to give a Catholic-Christian perspective on pop culture, current events, and whatever else strikes me at the moment."

Adam Rudin, program director of the Salesian Lay Missioners, regretted Fr. Tom’s death: "I always found him to be very personable, jolly, and a great conversationalist. I would always look forward to seeing him and spending time with him when the SLMs would stay in Port Chester. He was always so welcoming and took a genuine interest in getting to know the SLMs."

Fr. Tom is survived by his brothers Joseph, Anthony, and Salvatore and their families.

Funeral arrangements included a wake and Mass of Christian Burial at St. John Bosco Church in Port Chester on Wednesday, July 26, and burial in the Salesian Cemetery in Goshen, N.Y., on Thursday, July 27.

July 27, 2023 - 9:00am
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