Benedictine Father Luigi Bertocchi, 82, died April 30 in the retirement center at St. John’s Abbey. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. May 5 in St. John’s Abbey and University Church, with interment in the abbey cemetery following the service.
Luigi Bertocchi was born to Mario Gino and Lorenzina Antonietta (Gobbi) Bertocchi June 21, 1939, in Venice, Italy. After attending elementary school, Luigi was sent to a boarding school run by the Congregation of the Schools of Charity, commonly known as the “Cavanis Institute.”
Following graduation, he attended both technical and commercial schools. In 1962, he began compulsory military training in a cadet military school in southern Italy. He became a second lieutenant and moved to Padua to continue his training.
Later he entered a Venetian seminary but longed to be a missionary and so he sought out the Xaverian Missionaries and entered the novitiate in 1964. He was ordained to the priesthood on Sept. 27, 1970. He first taught at a minor seminary in Bergamo Province in the region of Lombary and later worked in Sardinia. In 1979, Father Bertocchi spent a year in London to further his studies in English.
In 1980, he became a missionary in Japan where he studied the Japanese language in the Provincial House in Kobe. Later he was attracted to a community with whom he could pray and developed a vocation for the Benedictines. He spoke with Benedictine Abbot Jerome Theisen, who was in Japan for an ordination ceremony.
Father Bertocchi arrived at St. John’s Abbey in 1989 and entered the novitiate. He professed vows as a Benedictine monk July 11, 1990, and returned to Japan as a Benedictine monk. He returned to Collegeville in 1991 to work in the St. John’s University Registrar’s Office and was an associate chaplain for Campus Ministry until 1996.
In 1996, he was appointed guestmaster and cashier at the Collegio Sant’Anselmo in Rome.
From the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’Anselmo, Father Bertocchi earned a licentiate in sacred theology in 2001, and began a doctoral thesis on “The Spiritual Journey of the Lay Benedictine Oblate in the Contemporary World.”
During his stay in Rome, in 2005 he organized the first World Congress of Oblates, bringing together 330 participants from 40 nations. After the congress, because of his facility in Italian, English, and Japanese, Father Bertocchi moved to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to assist hearing the confessions of the many pilgrims who visit the basilica, and to serve as guestmaster.
In 2008, Father Luigi returned to St. John’s Abbey and worked with the North American Commission for Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, and the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research to develop relations with local Somali Muslims. In addition, he served as a spiritual director for guests at the Abbey Guesthouse.