Deacon Digilio ministered through music and much more

Deacon John J. Digilio made Assumption-Guadalupe Parish sing.

For years he played the organ, sang and directed the choir at Assumption Church, all with zeal, according to pastors who worked with him. But his service to the Omaha parish went well beyond that, they said.

Deacon Digilio died Nov. 18 after contracting COVID-19. He was 78.

A private funeral Mass was offered Nov. 24 at Assumption Church. He was buried with full military honors at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Omaha.

“He was like Mr. Assumption,” doing everything that needed to be done at the church, including groundskeeping and more, said Father William Bond, pastor of Assumption-Guadalupe Parish. “He loved being a deacon and doing things for the Church.”

His vocation to the diaconate was so important to him that he wished to be buried in his vestments, Father Bond said.

Deacon Digilio, who was ordained in 2002, built up the music ministry at Assumption-Guadalupe, creating a camaraderie among musicians, Father Bond said. True to his Italian heritage, he brought people together around food, the pastor said, thanks in part to the Italian sausages he made.

Father James Keiter, a former pastor at the parish, gave the homily at the funeral, noting the deacon’s love of the Catholic faith and his family.

“The Catholic faith was very much his firm foundation,” Father Keiter said. In his homily he compared that faith to an old church building, with Deacon Digilio’s family as the supporting buttresses, he said.

“He was just a great guy, extremely talented,” Father Keiter said.

Deacon Digilio could be in the choir loft playing the entrance song for Mass, and be at his side in the sanctuary by the time opening prayers began, said Father Keiter, now pastor of All Saints and Holy Family Parishes in Cedar County and St. Rose of Lima Parish in Crofton.

“He was just a good, faithful servant,” the priest said. “We’re going to miss him.”

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