Monsignor Calogero Russo from Partanna, Sicily, celebrates on March 8 the eightieth anniversary of his priestly ordination.
In October 1929, he entered the Mazara del Vallo seminary when he was 11 years old. With a dispensation from Pius XII, he was ordained a priest when he was 22:
"During the rite of my ordination I could hear the terrible roar of the planes flying over the Cathedral and, even more, I felt the absence of my brother who was a soldier," Russo told TP24.it (March 6). As a priest, Russo was exempt from army service during Second World War.
Russo was vice-rector of the seminary, secretary of two bishops, and even the regent of his diocese in 1949-1950. As a parish priest in Partanna he distributed hundreds of copies of the Gospel.
In recent years, many priests visited him, among them Father Andrea Santoro who, as a missionary, was slaughtered in Turkey in 2006.