We mourn the passing of our friend and colleague, Peter J. Scagnelli, 68, on July 12. A priest of the diocese of Providence, Rhode Island since 1976, he was 68. Peter was a skilled translator and wordsmith, and his love of language was surpassed only by his love for the church and his kindness and generosity to others. He made friends readily and delighted in telling stories about his experiences and the people he had come to know. Peter’s extensive knowledge of and deep appreciation for Catholic Church history was most evident in his writing, but his conversations were also peppered with references to various events in the life of the church. Even while contending with a brain tumor over the last sixteen months of his life, he retained his faith, his humor, and his joy in life.
Peter worked many years with ICEL, preparing prayers and texts for several translations of the Roman Missal, and he also created liturgy resources for Liturgy Training Publications. He was the author of a number of fine hymn texts and translations that have appeared in many English-language hymnals since the 1970s.
Peter Scagnelli began his association with World Library Publications and J. S. Paluch Company in 2003, writing reflections on the daily Mass scriptures for Preach magazine. In 2007 these were expanded to include Sundays and became the online series Day by Day, which he wrote continuously for ten years. In 2010 he created a series of over fifty brief articles on Roman Catholic saints for parishes to print in their Sunday bulletins. In 2011 Peter penned weekly Prayers of the Faithful, scriptural introductions, homily helps, and reflection questions for Pastoral Patterns, a worship resource used by many parishes throughout the United States. He continued writing the homily helps and reflection questions through 2016. In 2013 he authored monthly articles of reflections on the Year of Faith for parish Sunday bulletins, and in 2016 he wrote a series of weekly bulletin articles for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, published in the book Week by Week through the Year of Mercy. He also wrote eleven longer articles for the J. S. Paluch Thematic Sunday Bulletins in 2016. Several of Peter’s hymn texts have appeared for years in WLP’s Missalettes and hymn books, and in 2014 WLP assumed the administration of the rights to all of his hymn texts and translations. A collection of many of these hymn texts, This Day of God: Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, is being readied for publication this summer.
We will dearly miss Peter Scagnelli, and commend his soul to the care of our loving God.
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To Bethany the Master comes,
But not to mourn a friend.
He weeps, but weeps that humankind
Should see Death as its end.
Entombed in grief, the sisters haste
Their Teacher to receive.
“If only you had been here, Lord.”
“If only you believe.”
Christ calls his name, and Lazarus
Comes forth for all to see:
A dead man walks! Then Christ commands,
“Unbind him. Set him free.”
The call to rise to life restored
Is Christ’s alone to give;
Yet we must set each other free
If we would truly live.
Peter J. Scagnelli
Copyright © Peter J. Scagnelli, published by World Library Publications