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Rev. Joseph M. Gariolo, 95, Barnabite priest who taught at Canisius College

March 6, 1924 – April 7, 2019

Rev. Joseph M. Gariolo, a Barnabite priest who taught Spanish and Italian at Canisius College for 30 years and helped save SS. Columba and Brigid Parish in Buffalo from closing, died Sunday in Kenmore Mercy Hospital. He was 95.

Born Giuseppe Gariuolo in Stigliano in the Province of Matera in southern Italy, the only boy among eight children, he entered the Barnabite minor seminary at the age of 13.

He began his novitiate in 1942 at San Felice a Cancello, Italy, until wartime bombing forced his class to transfer to Monza, Italy. Upon completing his studies at the Barnabite Seminary in Rome, he was ordained on April 8, 1950.

Assigned to Argentina as a missionary, he studied to become a teacher. While teaching grade school, he completed a master’s degree in Spanish literature and began teaching high school.

The Barnabites sent him to Western New York in 1969. He ministered in parishes and at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Youngstown while studying at the University at Buffalo, where he earned a double doctorate in Spanish and Italian literature.

Valued for his fluency in Spanish and Italian, he taught courses at Wells College, Rosary Hill College, Erie Community College and Buffalo State College, then was hired in 1978 to teach at Canisius, where he encouraged his students in Spanish class to address him as "Josè." He became a professor emeritus of modern languages in 2001 and retired in 2008.

He published numerous books and articles on scholarly and religious topics.

When SS. Columba and Brigid Church in Buffalo, with a mixed English and Spanish-speaking congregation, was marked for closing in the 1990s, he preserved it by serving as pastor and administrator until a new pastor was assigned. He continued to offer Masses regularly in Spanish. He was in the rectory with his friend and successor as administrator, the Rev. Roy Herberger, when a three-alarm fire on Palm Sunday caused $500,000 damage to the church in 2004.

Although officially assigned to the Barnabite community at Fatima Shrine, he received permission to live in Buffalo to further his work with the Hispanic Apostolate.

Survivors include many nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday, April 12, in SS. Columba and Brigid Church, 75 Hickory St., followed by a Commendation Service at 2:30 p.m. Friday in Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, 1023 Swann Road, Youngstown.

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