The mood was subdued at the parish office at on Monday. There was an air of disbelief, following the previous day's news that the Rev. Monsignor John W. Lolio had died early Sunday after falling and hitting his head.
“He said the Mass Saturday night. Everybody’s stunned and shocked,” said parish secretary Jean Chappell, who had worked with Msgr. Lolio for his entire 20-year tenure at OLM. “He was a gentle, caring, understanding person.”
Fr. Charles Grondin, associate pastor at OLM for the past five years, echoed Chappell’s words.
“He was caring, gentle and peaceful,” said Grondin. “He was good with everybody. Everyone felt comfortable with him, at ease.”
At Our Lady of Mercy School, just across the street from the church, Principal Sr. Jeanne Barry, R.S.M., said they started the day off with morning prayer all together in the gym.
“They were quiet as mice,” she said. “He was always wonderful with the kids. During the First Friday Masses, he would go down the aisle with the microphone and ask questions. You never knew what the children might say!”
He had said the First Friday Mass just last Friday, she recalled, when the first graders were doing the readings. “He complimented them on their reading.”
With back-to-back First Holy Communion Masses this Saturday and graduation activities gearing up, Sr. Barry said, it’s a particularly busy time in the life of the parish. There will be a void.
"Msgr. Lolio was a fine pastor whose love of the Church was evident," said parishioner Genevieve Kineke. "His dedication to the parish was quiet but effective, transforming it over the years to a state of quiet dignity. Our family always appreciated the reverent liturgies, and we'll miss his gentle personality."
Usually Sr. Barry and the Monsignor would visit a bit after the First Friday Mass. This week, she had an appointment, so they only exchanged a brief greeting.
“He came over after the Mass on Friday for coffee an' with the first graders. We both said hello,” said Sr. Barry, pausing and realizing that was the last time she talked to him. “He was always very proud of the school and the children. He was very supportive.”
The solumn transferral of Msgr. Lolio’s body will be celebrated at Our Lady of Mercy Church on Thursday at 4 p.m., followed by calling hours until 8 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of his soul on Friday at 10 a.m. Burial will be private.