Six years ago, Fr. Lydio Tomasi took over as Pastor of Holy Rosary Church, the National Italian American Church, and during those years he has made a significant imprint not only on the premises but more importantly on the parish. He has upgraded and revitalized the Casa Italiana Language School. He has led the transformation of the Church paper Voce Italiana to a well-respected communications vehicle. He has restored the beautiful church and refurbished our bell tower so that the bells can be heard loud and clear on Sunday mornings.
Action is not unusual for Fr. Lydio, who has had a long and distinguished career. Before coming to Washington, he served as Pastor of St. Joseph, in the heart of New York City’s Chinatown. There, he had an opportunity to test theories of immigrant incorporation, multicultural congregations, and the institutional role of churches in the adjustment process of immigrants.
Fr. Lydio was born in Vincenza, Italy and attended the Scalabrinian Seminary and the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome, where he earned his Philosophy and Theology degrees. He was ordained a priest on December 16, 1962.
Once in the United States, he received a Ph.D. in Sociology from New York University. From 1968 to 2001, he directed the Center for Migration Studies in New York, where he was the founding editor of Migration World Magazine and managing editor of the prestigious journal International Migration Review.
In 2005, during his nomination for the Distinguished Career Award of the American Sociological Association, Prof. Douglas Massey of Princeton University said of Fr. Lydio: “In addition to his humanitarian contributions, Fr. Tomasi has contributed significantly to scholarship on international migration…He has been an outstanding institution-builder, organizing and otherwise bringing into existence numerous conferences and seminars on international migration.”
Fr. Lydio has received many other honors: In 1985, the President of Italy awarded him the title of Cavaliere Ufficiale in the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy.
In 1993, the Order Sons of Italy in America granted him the Children of Columbus Award, and 1996, he received the prestigious International Prize “Guido Durso,” from the University of Naples.
Each year, as head of the Center for Migration Studies, Fr. Lydio came to Washington to hold his prestigious National Legal Conference on Immigration. It was the premiere conference of its type and perhaps the first, and it attracted the best and brightest in the immigration field.