Monsignor Richard S. Amico, pastor emeritus of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Niagara Falls, died unexpectedly Sunday in his home in the rectory of St. Augustine's Church, Depew. He was 72.
Monsignor Amico, the brother of former Erie County Sheriff Michael A. Amico, served as pastor of St. Joseph's Church from 1987 to 2005. Previously, he was pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Dunkirk for 13 years.
He served as a special correspondent for The Buffalo News in 1978, covering the election of Pope John Paul I. He had gone to Rome on his own after the death of Pope Paul VI to witness history in the making and was enlisted to report on the selection of the new pope. Fluent in six languages, he had an advantage over many other correspondents.
Born in Buffalo, the youngest of six children, he attended School 1, Diocesan Preparatory Seminary and Niagara University, where he earned a bachelor's degree and was inducted into the National Honor Society of Delta Epsilon Sigma. He earned his master's degree in theology from Catholic University in Louvain, Belgium, and was ordained a priest in 1960.
Monsignor Amico served as an associate pastor in St. Frances Cabrini Church, Collins Center; Coronation Church, Buffalo; St. Joseph's Church, Niagara Falls; Holy Cross Church, Buffalo; St. John's Church, Olean; and St. Joseph's New Cathedral, Buffalo, before he was named pastor in Dunkirk.
Know for his jovial temperament, he was active in numerous diocesan projects and civic organizations. He served three terms on the Diocesan Council of Priests and three terms as diocesan coordinator for 13 parishes in northern Chautauqua County. He also served on the Dunkirk Housing Authority.
As president of the National American Association of the 1,000 priest alumni of the Catholic University of Louvain, he organized its annual meeting in Buffalo in 1969.
In 1988, Pope John Paul II named him a monsignor with the title Prelate of Honor in recognition of his outstanding ministry. He was awarded the rare honor of Affiliate of the Barnabite Religious Congregation in 1992 and received the Jewel Award from the Pine Avenue Business Association in Niagara Falls in 1999.
Monsignor Amico was a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus and a member of the Cristoforo Columbo Society of Niagara Falls.
He also was a director of the Diocesan Italian Apostolate, president of the Italian Vocations Commission and a member of the Diocesan Finance Committee. He was a board member of Catholic Charities and the Buffalo Mussomelese Cultural Society, where he was active in planning the annual feast of Our Lady of Miracles of Mussomeli.
Surviving are two brothers, Michael and the Rev. Charles, and two sisters, Josephine Ervolina and Grayce Arena.