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Photo by Joe Yekulis. Fr. Fortunato Turati, Bishop Mengeling and Fr. Joseph Rinaldo.

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Joe Yekulis for the information in this story.)

Celebrating 50 years in the priesthood is a huge milestone for anyone who has dedicated a lifetime of service to others through his faith.

But two priests celebrating 50 years together from the same ordination class in Chiavenna, Italy would be even more remarkable.

On Saturday Dec. 16, Fr. Joseph Rinaldo and Fr. Fortunato Turati from the Servants of Charity will come together to do exactly that at St. Mary Parish in Chelsea, at 4:30 p.m.

The Most Rev. Bishop Earl Boyea from the Diocese of Lansing will be present to preside at the Mass with Fr. Joseph and Fr. Fortunato, and a capacity crowd is expected to be at the church.

Fr. Joseph and Fr. Fortunato were both born in Italy, with Fr. Joseph coming from Sicily in the south, and Fr. Fortunato coming from the Milan area in the north.  Each decided to become Guanellian priests and devote their lives to serving persons with disabilities and the frail elderly; a specialty of the Servants of Charity Congregation.

 Fr. Joseph was surprised when he was sent to the United States in 1968, because he had learned the Spanish language, “and didn’t know a word of English.” Similarly, Fr. Fortunato was also surprised to come to America, and after spending time at the Don Guanella School in Springfield, PA, he came to St. Louis Center in Chelsea in 1968 and became the Administrator from 1977-1980. Fr. Joseph then arrived at St. Louis Center from Pennsylvania in 1980, and took over as Administrator until 1991.

Since that time, each has grown in their own way. Fr. Joseph became the Provincial of the Immaculate Conception Province (U.S., Philippines) in 1987, and then Provincial Treasurer in 1996. He also served a second term as the Administrator of St. Louis Center from 1997 until 2008. Fr. Fortunato was an early Administrator of St. Louis Center, and then served as Director of the Formation House in Springfield, PA for nine years, before returning to SLC in 1988 and focusing on community service. Examples include filling in for Masses at area parishes and serving in ministries at Huron Valley Catholic School, Gabriel Richard HS, Cassidy Lake Prison Camp, Ave Maria School of Law, Legatus International, the 4th Degree of the Knights of Columbus, and the Pious Union of St. Joseph in Grass Lake. Fr. Fortunato was assigned to Mt. St. Joseph in Lake Zurich, Ill. in April 2013 and became pastor for the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and their female residents with I/DD.

A dinner reception will follow the Mass at St. Louis Center, located at 16195 Old US-12, in Sylvan Township.

For more information about this event, contact Public Relations Director Joseph Yekulis at joey@stlouiscenter.org, or call 734-475-8430.

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