Vatican Gendarmerie’s New Chaplain Will Minister in Salesian Style

01 Aug 2019

(ANS – Vatican City – July 29) – After many years of work for young people within the Salesian Congregation, Fr. Francesco (Franco) Fontana goes to serve directly at the center of the universal Church. He has been chosen by Pope Francis as chaplain of the Directorate of Security Services and Civil Protection of the State of Vatican City, replacing Bishop Alberto Lorenzelli, who recently was promoted to auxiliary bishop of Santiago, Chile.

Fr. Fontana has been a Salesian for 51 of his 69 years, a priest for 39 years. He accepted his appointment in a spirit of service to the Church. “I accepted the will of God with hope and affection for the Pope. It will be something totally new for me…. And I must admit that I will miss my ‘pests’!” he confided.

In the last five years, in fact, Fr. Fontana was director of the Istituto Sant’Ambrogio in Milan, where he accompanied the human and spiritual growth of about 2,000 students. At the same time, he was also a councilor of the Italian Lombardy-Emiliana Province.

Previously, he served in various Salesian houses as director, catechist, or dean. He was also his province’s delegate for youth ministry, the Italian provinces’ national coordinator of missionary animation, and a delegate for the NGO International Volunteers for Development. He has also served as delegate for youth ministry of the archdiocese of Bologna and moderator of the diocesan curia of Terni-Narni-Amelia.

Fr. Fontana holds a baccalaureate in Theology from the Salesian Pontifical University of Turin and a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Parma.

Looking at his new position as chaplain of the Gendarmerie, Fr. Fontana told ANS: “It will be a nice challenge, also because I arrive after the appreciated ministry and work done by Bishop Lorenzelli. I will commit myself to accompanying the gendarmes, among whom there are many young people, with a discreet pastoral work, like a good parish priest, so that we can grow together.”

“I will do this job Salesian-style,” Fr. Fontana added.