BRADENTON — Msgr. Edward Moretti, the longtime pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul The Apostles Catholic Church in Bradenton and Vicar General of the Diocese of Venice, died Friday after a short illness.
Msgr. Moretti, who marked the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on July 10, was 76.
In June, then-Father Moretti was bestowed the rank of Monsignor, Protonotary Apostolic Supernumerary by Pope Benedict XVI, the highest honor that can be given a diocesan priest.
Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida, expressed his condolences to Msgr. Moretti’s family, and to all who knew him. “Please pray for the repose of his soul,” Dewane said. “May he rest in peace.”
Msgr. Moretti “was a trusted advisor and friend; indeed he was a priest who possessed unique gifts that made him a legend in his own time,” Dewane added. “He had a holiness of life that served as an example to us all.”
Msgr. Moretti was ordained July 10, 1960, at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome. From there he returned to the United States and served as a parochial vicar in East Boston, Mass.
He served as a chaplain with the 82nd Airborne Division of Fort Bragg, N.C., and then with the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam from 1968 to ’69. “I was there to serve the men; to be with them when they needed me and to celebrate Mass for them in the field,” Msgr. Moretti said.
For his service in Vietnam, he was awarded a Silver Star for Gallantry in Action, a Bronze Star for Heroism with an Oak Leaf Cluster, a Soldier’s Medal for Heroism and an Air Medal for Heroism, among other medals.
Msgr. Moretti was then approached to serve in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, where he was assigned to Holy Name Parish in Gulfport.
In 1975 he was named pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton. He remained there until 1987, when he was named founding pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul. Since that time, he helped the parish build 10 buildings on 44 acres. He was appointed Vicar General in 2003.
In 2008, he was selected to represent the priests of the Diocese of Venice at a Mass for Religious by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.
“I’ve met six popes — Pius the XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I (only as cardinal), John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI,” Msgr. Moretti said at the time. “Anytime you are going to meet a pope, it is still going to be exciting because of what he represents.”
Msgr. Moretti was born Jan. 6, 1934, in Providence, R.I., to Francesco and Rose Papa Moretti. He was the youngest of six children. He is survived by his brother Wilfred and numerous other family members.
Funeral arrangements are pending.