Scarboros mourn loss of well-liked Fr. Veltri

  • September 20, 2011

TORONTO - Fr. Richard Veltri of the Scarboro Foreign Mission Society was a good friend who loved to laugh and a compassionate pastor who knew how to listen.

In recent years Fr. Veltri had struggled with a number of ailments. He died Sept. 12 at the age of 77.

As a man who spoke his mind freely and forcefully, Fr. Veltri was never unnoticed in the Scarboro Missions community, said Scarboro Mission priest Fr. Roger Brennan.

"He was a character, one of those people who adds a certain flavour to the community — a little something different," he said.

Born 1934 in Port Arthur, Ont., one half of the city that would become Thunder Bay in 1970, Fr. Veltri graduated from Lakehead University and became a teacher. Priesthood and missionary work came after he encountered the Scarboros during a stint of teaching in the Bahamas.

He was ordained at the age of 33 in 1967 and spent his first seven years of priesthood at parish work in Japan while he studied for a BA at Tokyo's Sophia University. Years later, he still had friends from Japan.

"There were a surprising number of people from Japan, given that his time there was not that long, who remained good friends and contacts," recalled Fr. Brennan.

While in Japan, Fr. Veltri learned to cook Japanese dishes.

"He was an excellent cook, and he loved to cook," said Fr. Brennan.

Fr. Veltri's bouts of cooking were just one part of a creative drive that was part of his character.

"When he was healthy, he was an avid gardener," recalled Fr. Brennan. "He loved gardening. It was the real Italian peasant in him and he had a terrific garden."

At various times Fr. Veltri took up baking, cake decorating and weaving.

Back from Japan in 1974, Fr. Veltri worked for the Scarboros in the information department and as secretary general to the Scarboros' council. He helped out at Scarborough, Ont.'s St. Maria Goretti Parish and others.

He went on to complete a licentiate degree in canon law from Saint Paul University in Ottawa and in 1994 was appointed a judge for the archdiocese of Toronto Marriage Tribunal. He occasionally acted as a marriage tribunal judge for the diocese of Thunder Bay as well.

"He was certainly compassionate," recalled Cathy McCarroll, who worked with Fr. Veltri in Toronto's marriage tribunal.

It was Fr. Veltri's ability to put himself in someone else's shoes that made him good at his job, McCarroll said.

"He understood where the people were coming from," she said.

Through the 1980s and '90s as the Scarboro Missions were challenged by a dearth of vocations, Fr. Veltri wondered what had gone wrong.

"That bothered Richard. It troubled him," said Brennan. "He certainly wondered whether it was because of something we're not doing that we should be doing."

Seeing him pass is difficult for the tight-knit Scarboro community.

"You sort of notice the hole where he was," said Fr. Brennan.

Fr. Veltri is buried at Our Lady Queen of the Clergy cemetery adjacent to the Scarboro Missions headquarters and St. Augustine's Seminary.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location
Type the text presented in the image below

Support The Catholic Register

Unlike many other news websites, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our site. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.