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For decades Father Paschal LoBianco built churches and more in Ghana

 
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Father Paschal LoBianco, 1921-2016

Father Paschal LoBianco, a longtime missionary in Ghana, passed away the evening of Dec. 19 at age 95.

Father LoBianco, a pivotal figure in building up the Catholic Diocese of Accra, was assigned to Ghana (then known as the Gold Coast of West Africa) after ordination in 1950. He worked tirelessly in establishing churches, rectories, convents and 19 government-approved elementary schools.

At the behest of Bishop Joseph Bowers SVD, he then moved to Akyem district, whose southernmost border lies about 60 miles northwest of Accra, the capital. The district that he tended encompassed 2,100 square miles, was home to 60,000, and had a main church, as well as 30 outstations and mission parishes.

Father LoBianco built the region’s first hospital.  In less than five years, the hospital—with a 110-bed capacity, two physicians and nine Dominican sisters—recorded 64,000 patients treated and 600 major operations performed.

Recognizing the need for advanced education, Father LoBianco opened a school to educate lay catechists in addition to founding Akyem’s Nurses Training School and St. Rose Teacher’s College, the region’s first school of its kind.

In 1967, Bishop Bowers appointed Father LoBianco as diocesan bursar, and in 1970, the priest became vicar general and administrator of Holy Spirit Cathedral in Accra. The following year, Bishop Bowers was named bishop of St. John’s in the Caribbean. Father LoBianco remained vicar general for another 11 years, working directly with Archbishop Dominic Kodwo Andoh, Ghana’s first native-born prelate.

After 32 years in Ghana, Father LoBianco returned to the United States for assignment in the Diocese of Springfield, Ill. For 12 years, he served St. Mark parish in Venice, Ill., a town of about 2,000 on the Mississippi River, north of St. Louis.

In 1994, he received permission for a sabbatical in order to study at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., and live in the Divine Word community at Bordentown.

After the sabbatical, he returned to Springfield and served as parochial vicar of Immaculate Conception Cathedral. In 1997, he retired to Techny at the age of 76.

The future missionary priest was born in Chicago to Joseph and Anna (DiNovo) LoBianco in 1921 and grew up in Dubuque with three brothers and one sister. In 1935, he began his studies with the Society of the Divine Word in Epworth, Iowa. In 1943, he professed vows and was ordained to the priesthood in 1950.

Father LoBianco is survived by many nieces and nephews. His funeral Mass will be Friday, Dec. 23, at the Divine Word Residence, followed by burial at St. Mary Cemetery, both at Techny.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in the name of Father LoBianco can be made for the care of elderly and infirm missionaries and sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Road, P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.

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